Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Chen Wenqing Named China’s Spy Boss; has a Shot at Politburo Membership

Spy boss

(Photo : Xinhua) Chen Wenqing.

Chen Wenqing, a fast-rising star in the Communist Party of China (CPC), has been confirmed as Minister of the Ministry of State Security (MSS), China's spy agency, a promotion that makes him a likely candidate for a seat in the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), China's highest ruling body.

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Five of the Politburo's seven members will retire at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China to be held in Beijing in the autumn of 2017.

Chen, who is only 56, was formerly Deputy Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the CPC's top anti-graft body and a member of the CCDI Standing Committee.

His boss was Wang Qishan, Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and the public face of CPC General Secretary and Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign since 2013.

Wang, 68, is a member of the PSC and is one of the five men who will retire in 2017.

Chen replaces Geng Huichang, 65, who will retire after heading MSS since 2007. Chen's appointment was revealed in September and approved Nov. 7 by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's national legislature.

Chen began his career as a policeman in Sichuan province and rose rapidly through the ranks of the CPC. He was Wang's deputy at CCDI when it investigated Zhou Yongkang, former Secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission from 2007 to 2012. Zhou oversaw China's security apparatus (including the MSS) and law enforcement institutions.

Zhou is serving a life sentence for corruption and abuse of power.

Chen was CCDI's Deputy Secretary from 2011 to 2015 when the party watchdog purged some 100 senior officials as part of a sweeping crackdown on corruption. MSS was one of the agencies badly hit by the anti-corruption crackdown.

MSS, roughly China's equivalent of the CIA and FBI combined, is China's intelligence agency and security agency for non-military affairs and is responsible for counter-intelligence, foreign intelligence and political security.

The mission of the MSS is to ensure "the security of the state through effective measures against enemy agents, spies, and counter-revolutionary activities designed to sabotage or overthrow China's socialist system."

One of the primary missions of the MSS is gathering foreign intelligence from targets in various countries.

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