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China Sets Honey Traps to Spy on UK

Sticky Situations: Chinese Spies Setting Honey Traps in Britain

The UK's secret intelligence service, MI5, is warning British banks, businesses, and financial institutions to beware of Chinese honey traps, the espionage practice of tricking a person with seduction. It's hard enough to believe espionage exists, but the idea that spies actually seduce people and have actual romances sounds like fiction.

Yet it definitely still happens, whether it's as simple as a flirtation or as drawn out as a relationship. Just two years ago a Gordon Brown aide had his BlackBerry stolen by a Chinese woman who hit on him in a Shanghai hotel disco. The UK is now warning, though, that Chinese agents are pursuing "long-term relationships."

Past honey traps have not only been used to wine and dine information out of people, but also to blackmail with the threat of revealing the relationship, particularly with same-sex affairs. But one of the most organized and widespread honey-trap operations used straight-up seduction.


The head of East Germany's security service staffed an entire department with smart, attractive officers he called "Romeo spies." They were used to target successful single women in West Germany — the type who would obviously fall for it — and beguile secrets out of them. It didn't go quite as planned, though. West Germany's government quickly learned to identify Romeo spies by their unfashionable haircuts.

Who knew haircuts had such a prominent place in history!

Join The Conversation
MsChoo MsChoo 7 years
Oh no wonder! Thanks for posting this! My chinese cousin from England came to Canada for a visit in December of 2009. On the way to Canada, she was stopped at the airport and was asked to step aside to provide more ID. She was comepletly confounded. They told her that they were targeting single chinese women, but they wouldn't tell her why.
a-million-suns a-million-suns 7 years
Weird, I just read M. Butterfly today
GregS GregS 7 years
Honey traps have been around for millenia. There's a good chance that Alexander the Great was done in by one. It also wouldn't surprise me at all that they're being used on business leaders here in the US. You'll never hear about it, either unless for some reason it gets out in a divorce proceeding. Spying is a nasty business - one that we do a terrible job at. At the time of the Afgan invasion, we had, count 'em, zero Pashto speakers. Almost all our intel is electronically derived (spy satelites and communications intercepts). There were very few "boots on the ground".
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 7 years
Very interesting, Tres! Thanks for posting!
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
Anon 2 there's a link in the first paragraph if you'd like to read more... it's actually a great article. Part 4 is so sad...
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
That is so hilarious and interesting, Tres! My mom went to East Germany in the 70's and said it was like going back in time to the 40's or 50's, but I had never thought of that affecting everything down to people's haircuts.
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