Protest Letter to CBS, Standard Package D (general)
1. Cover Letter
2. The CBS Incident Committee's official letter to CBS Vice President
3. Transcript of the CBS Evening News May 19, 1994 broadcast
4. Protest letter by IFCSS Vice President Shi Heping to CBS
5. CBS Vice President response to Mr. Shi Heping
1. Cover Letter to the public
Ladies and Gentleman:
May 19, 1994, CBS Evening News, "Eye on America". A group of Chinese
faces, men, women and children, flooded out from an airport terminal. "Only
U.S. citizens continue straight ahead", an airport official said, directing
these Chinese faces turn to the immigration gate.
Now the reporter Connie's face, showing grave concern for America,
"Everyday, planeloads of Chinese citizens arrive legally in the United States,
ordinary people", she started to explain that among these ordinary Chinese
faces, men, women and children, "some of them may be future spies, who, a few
years down the road, will be activated to steal American's military and
That is one plane. There are "planeloads", "everyday", spies!
This program enraged the entire Chinese community. No matter what their
background is, one thing is clear, this subjective, distorted and
unprofessionally produced program has threatened everybody who looks like a
Chinese. They could be spies! They don't have to be caught or convicted to
be spies! They are "future" spies!
Thousands of protest letters have been received by the CBS, but CBS vice
president, a Mr. Lane Venardos, shows no regret or sympathy. In his identical
replies to many protesters, particularly a letter to Mr. Shi Heping, the Vice
President of IFCSS, a Chinese student and scholars association, Mr. Venardos
lectured: "Our job is to bring all stories to the attention of the public,
even those that may make some viewers uncomfortable, That is the very
definition of a free press"!
Some story! Obviously, to Mr. Venardos, the flat faced Chinese as shown
in the program do not understand what freedom of press is! He contends that he
can make any slanderous remarks, and that is the "very definition of a free
Attached please find a reply from the national coordinator of the CBS
Incident Committee, which contains more detailed information about this racist
and slanderous CBS report. Also attached are the transcript of the original
CBS Evening News program, Mr. Shi's original protest letter and Mr. Venardos'
letter. We need your signatures to co-sign our letter. We need your support
for fight CBS!
Mr. Huang Lin
CBS Incident Committee
The Letter From the National Coordinator of the CBS Incident Committee
Mr. Lin Huang
CBS Incident Committee
3044 Albany Crescent 1G
Bronx, NY 10463
Hard News and Special Events
524 West 57 Street
New York, NY 10019
Dear Vice President Lane Venardos:
Your recent letter to the Vice President of the Independent Federation
of Chinese Students and Scholars, Mr. Shi, has been brought to my
attention, in my capacity as the National Coordinator of the CBS
Incident Committee, a nationwide assembly of Chinese students and
scholars who have joined to protest the CBS Evening News' May 19th
broadcast regarding a presumed threat of ordinary Chinese nationals
spying for China in the United States. Our committee consists of 60 core
members, regional and local coordinators, and a pool of over a thousand
volunteers nationwide, coordinating activities provoked by this
We appreciate your thoughtful and immediate response to Mr. Shi and
other complainants. Yet, we find that the reply is far from
satisfactory, fallacies were abound, questions were unanswered. We would
like to take this opportunity to express our grave concerns in more
detail. We expect your kind response point by point.
A. In the CBS broadcast and in the subsequent transcript which we
received, it was mentioned that the major interviewee in the report, Mr.
Nicholas Eftimiades, was an employee of the Defense Information Agency.
Your reply to Mr. Shi also states that your information came from "the
United States Defense Information Agency in Washington".
There is no "Defense Information Agency" anywhere in the United States.
Mr. Nicholas Eftimiades is employed by the Defense Intelligence Agency.
While this is a very small and subtle error, if CBS "special
investigators" had read Mr. Nicholas Eftimiades' book, or had
communicated with the Defense Intelligence Agency, they would have
realized the mistake. This oversight not only characterizes the
unprofessional nature of this program, but also highlights the fact that
mistakes were definitely made in this broadcast. Now, the real questions
are, how many more mistakes were made, and to what extent harm has been
done to innocent people in this country!
B. The May 19th broadcasting opened with the statement that, "Every
day, planeloads of Chinese citizens arrive legally in the United States,
ordinary people. But to the Chinese government, some of them may be
future spies, who, a few years down the road, will be activated to steal
America's military and technological secrets... ". Three aspects of this
statement need to be addressed:
1) In reference to the "planeloads of Chinese citizens" who are
allegedly recruited as agents, your report stated the following: "A
Chinese student or scientist or businessperson applies for a visa to go
to the US. Then the Ministry of State Security (MSS) starts asking
questions: What can you learn in the States? Will you be working with
computers? Will you be loyal to China? And most importantly, can you be
patient?" This is apparently meant to illustrate the standard and
routine process for recruiting an agent. In reality, according to your
interviewee himself, Mr. Eftimiades, MSS is very picky and cautious in
recruiting. On page 64 of Mr. Eftimiades' book, he details how a certain
individual was recruited:
"MSS made use of its resources in identifying this individual and
assessing his ability to conduct espionage. The recruitment process
took place over six months. The time invested, as well as the
ministry's foreknowledge of the source's personality and apparent
prospects for academic achievement, indicates a well-planned and
carefully regulated process of development and recruitment."
In your broadcast, all those procedures and precautions disappeared.
Each and every ordinary Chinese is simply approached with a blatant
request to be recruited as agent, according to your reporter. I can
summon thousands, if not tens of thousands, of "ordinary" Chinese to
testify before any grand jury that your spy recruiting story is simply
It is not too hard to find the discrepancies between your report and the
book. Your report generalized and distorted the facts obtained from the
U.S. intelligence, putting words into the interviewee's mouth and
pointing fingers at us, the "ordinary people", as we are referred to in
2) The report also alleged that those "ordinary" Chinese are sent by
the Chinese intelligence as "sleeper spies", "fish in the bottom of the
ocean" waiting to be surfaced in the "future".
However, as the report stated, the development of "sleeper" agents
usually require a long preparation period, yet that is not possible with
most Chinese nationals entering the United States. According to American
Government documents, the majority of students and scholars who have
arrived in the U.S. since 1978 (when diplomatic relations between the
U.S. and China were normalized) have been exchange visitors on J-1
visas. A J-1 visa holder must return to his or her home country after
completing research and study programs. This is generally three or four
years for a scholar and the reasonable length for a student to complete
an advanced degree. It was not until after the Tiananmen pro-democracy
movement that President Bush waived this requirement for some of the
Chinese exchange visitors who were in the U.S. at the time. Thus, there
was no way for these alleged "fish", as they are ridiculed in your
report, even to think about surfacing 20-30 years in the future as your
There is no evidence at all to support the "future" spy allegations in
your report, which are the most disturbing and outrageous part. Those
claims establish that even if a Chinese does not get caught spying, he
or she is still a spy suspect! He or she is a spy suspect for life! CBS,
as a news organization, cannot blame the US intelligence agencies for
this irresponsible claim. The US intelligence agencies can suspect and
investigate any Chinese or non-Chinese in the US, however "ordinary", if
there is sufficient evidence to do so, but they do not make a public
announcement that any "ordinary" Chinese is suspected of being a
"future" spy. What CBS has done is clearly slanderous!
3) In reference to your "concrete example" of an "ordinary" Chinese
who was chosen to become a "sleeper" agent, Mr. Kao is hardly ordinary.
Mr. Kao arrived in the United States in 1971, seven years before formal
Sino-U.S. diplomatic relations were established. In 1971, there was no
way for any ordinary Chinese to get visa to the U.S., no transportation
from China to the U.S. and certainly there were no "planeloads" of
"ordinary" Chinese as shown in the opening of the report. Mr. Kao is not
one of the alleged "ordinary" "Chinese student, scientist or
businessman" whose dramatic spying journey "all starts here in
C. In the May 19 broadcast, an interview was staged to dramatize the
issue. The interview went as follows:
"Unidentified Man #1: Never forget, you belong to our organization.
"CHUNG: Never forget,' they told him, 'you belong to our rganization.
"Man #1: You were sent by our organization.
"CHUNG: You were sent by our organization, and this organization
belongs to the Communist Party.
"Man #1: ...Communist Party.
If we were actually to believe that this was a conversation between a
"sleeper" spy and an MSS case officer, we would like to pose the
1) Wouldn't this conversation be in Chinese, rather than in English?
2) Who is this unidentified man, what is this unidentified man and
what Chinese or American agency does he work for?
3) Doesn't this sound like a Hollywood interpretation of how a spy
ring would be enforced? We regret to inform you, but China is not
Hollywood, and business (be it espionage or car manufacturing) is
not conducted in the same terse and straight-forward manner as it
D. At the end of the report, the reporter announced that "The FBI is
trying to help American corporations protect themselves from espionage.
The Bureau has a program now to brief executives about how their
companies could become targets." By stating "The Bureau has a program
now ..", it implies that the FBI has recently created a new program
against Chinese nationals to deal with the presumed threat of Chinese
espionage. This is another fabrication alleging the U.S. government
launching racist programs against the Chinese community! The fact is
that the FBI has had programs in place for many years to protect
America's interests from espionage originating from all countries,
friendly or hostile. The implications arising from this misleading
statement is overwhelming, possibly leading to a national "witch hunt"
for Chinese in high-power jobs.
E. In your reply to Mr. Shi's letter, you mentioned (as further proof
that this broadcast was legitimate) that between 1986 and 1993 "one in
eight of all illegal export enforcement cases closed by U.S. Commerce
Department involved the People's Republic of China...". First of all,
trade violations and espionage are different concepts. Second, we would
like to know, what percentage of these "illegal export" crimes are
committed by businesses that tried to get around trade regulations to
make money, and which were genuine "spy network" cases? According to our
investigation, there is only one in thirty of all illegal export cases
that could be related to espionage involving China. And this percentage
is comparable to that of cases involving the U.S. allies such as the
United Kingdom, West Germany and Japan.
Besides, you cannot use illegal export cases to China to support this
particular news report, which was targeting "planeloads" of "ordinary"
Chinese, and which made no mention whatsoever about Americans of
non Chinese origin. You must know that most of these illegal export
cases to China involve Americans of non-Chinese origin and you would not
like to suggest that the Chinese Americans who were involved in these
cases are Chinese spies and those non-Chinese Americans who were
involved are patriotic citizens who just made unfortunate mistakes,
F. Your reply also states that CBS "in no way intended to suggest
that the recruits represented anything other than a minority of the
Chinese population in this country and we do not believe that we in any
way suggested otherwise", although there is no mention or implication of
such statement in the original broadcast. In fact, CBS' choice of words
in the report portrayed exactly the opposite intention, as shown in the
following four examples:
1) CBS implicated the entire Chinese community by using the word
"ordinary" and by providing no distinction between being an intelligence
recruit and being an ordinary member of the Chinese population.
2) Onch again, the CBS broadcast opened by a crowd of Chinese
visitors coming out of a plane, saying "planeloads of Chinese citizens
arrive [daily]... some of them may be future spies." The statement makes
it seem as if spies arrive in every plane, and leading to the
inescapable conclusion that, since there are numerous planes arrive each
day, America must be inundated with Chinese spies!
3) The broadcast stated that ordinary Chinese "will be activated to
steal America's military and technological secrets, whether they want to
or not." This statement further implicates the entire Chinese community
by virtually demanding that the least spy-like person must also be
watched, because they can be forced to spy against their will. It is
outrageous to suggest that a freedom-loving, law-abiding Chinese, whose
very presence here shows an appreciation and understanding of the
American dream, could be forced to commit crimes against his or her own
will and against this great nation, the United States of America!
4) In the broadcast, the reporter announced that China has a
"biggest spy network" in America, without any concrete evidence or
statistical data. She simply asked the interviewee: "Are there any other
countries that you know of that have this kind of spy network operating
here in the United States?" To which the eye-rolling interviewee
mumbled, "No, not-certainly not to this -- to this degree." This broad
generalization and paranoid imagination creates an overwhelming image
that there is a China spy network that has infiltrated every home and
office in America, putting these "ordinary" Chinese under its control!
It is impossible to prove a negative. Mr. Vice President Venardos, if
you have a neighbor who happens to be an ethnic Chinese, what could he
or she possibly do to prove to you, or CBS Evening News for that matter,
that he or she is not a spy for China, since you have expressed so
firmly a belief in your reply that portraying ordinary Chinese as spies
is "important" and that the Chinese spy "problem may be even greater"?!
A primary mission of U.S. intelligence agencies is to investigate spy
threats in the U.S., whether posed by "ordinary" citizens or by
government agents, and we wholeheartedly support their efforts to ferret
out the multinational spies infiltrating American business. The job of a
news organization, such as CBS, is to report and to investigate real
life events, not to fabricate, distort, and manipulate facts to create a
fairy tale in an attempt to boost ratings.
It is understandable that there are paranoia about the presumed Chinese
"spy" threat among some individuals. But as a major network, CBS should
report it professionally, that is, while reporting the paranoia, you
should also report those innumerable facts and views that prove the
On the contrary, the open generalizations and implications of your
report invite American public to "keep an eye on" and be suspicious of
their Chinese employees, job applicants, business partners, and even
neighbors! The eye-catching proclamations in the report were unsupported
by facts, but a collection of irrelevant stories patched together with
some vivid imaginations, outright fabrications and unsubstantiated
allegations. Just because a person is from a certain country of origin,
it does not make him or her believe in the politics of that nation and
would sell his or her soul and American secrets for fame or for money!
Your May 19th, 1994 report by Ms. Connie Chung, produced by Mr. Thomas
Anderson and Mr. Eric Sorensen, is an unprofessional, irresponsible,
subjective, bigoted, and tabloid style show piece. It defamed all the
law-abiding ordinary Chinese in this country. Rarely have we seen such
blatant discrimination against an ethnic group on national television.
We have fought so hard for the principles of freedom and democracy. We
will not tolerate being accused of subverting democracy in this country!
We demand that CBS issue a formal public apology on "Eye on America" and
devote equal air-time to an objective discussion of this issue. We also
ask that you respond in writing to the specific points we have addressed
in this letter. You cannot defame an entire ethnic community by using
anonymity, getting away with "sources say", "unidentified man", "CBS
special investigators find" and the rest of those elusory clauses.
CBS Incident Committee
CBS President Howard Stringer
CBS Vice President Eric Ober
Producer Thomas Anderson
Producer Eric Sorensen
News Anchor Connie Chung
News Anchor Dan Rather
Attachment 2: Excerpt from Transcript of CBS Evening News (May 19, 1994, 6:30pm)
Connie Chung: And later, Eye on America, Tonight, how a foreign
power may be planting the seeds in your backyard.
Chung: Comming up next, Eye on America. Tonight, the biggest spy network in
America. We'll tell you who's running it and how.
Connie Chung, co-anchor:
The recent Ames spy case served as a reminder that the espionage bussiness in
this country is still thriving; that you don't always find spies in trench
coats and that you could find them in the house next door. In a special
investigation, CBS News found out how China is grooming agents to keep an Eye
Unidentified Woman: Only US citizens continue straight ahead.
Chung: Every day, planeloads of Chinese citizens arrive legally in the United
States, ordinary people. But to the Chinese government, some of them may be
future spies, who a few year down the road, will be activated to steal
America's military and technological secrets, whether they want to or not.
Are there any other contries that you know of that have this kind of spy
network operating here in the United States?
Mr. Nicholas Eftimiades (Defence Information Agency): No. Not-certainly not to
this--to this degree.
Chung: Nicholas Eftimiades, who works for an American spy agency, the Defence
Information Agency. His new book on Chinese intelligence raise questions for
American government and business.
Mr. Nicholas Eftimiades: I don't think we can say at this point any Western
government is prepared to deal with this type of espionage threat, because it's
different from anything that we've known to date.
Chung: It all start here in Beijin. A Chinese student or scientist or
businessperson applies for a visa to go to the US. Then the Ministry of State
Security asking questions: What cab you learn in the State> Will you be working
with computer? Will you be loyal to China? And most importantly, can you be
patient? Eftimiades says the prospective spiues are trained, paid and warned to
stay in touch, 'Remember.' they are told. 'we'll be watching your family
members in China.' 'Lay low until you're contacted.' they are told. It could be
Mr. Nicholas Eftimiades: Let me put it to you in the terms that the Chinese
Intelligence Service describes it: Chen di yu, which is a Ministry of State
Security slang term for fish on the bottom of the ocean. This has been defined
in Western espionage as sleeper agents.
Chung: So they just sit there like fish at the bottom of the ocean and do
Mr. Nicholas Eftimiades: They wait.
Chung: Until they have to surface.
Mr. Nicholas Eftimiades: Exactly.
Chung: This man is one of those Chinese fish at the bottom of the American
ocean. Call him a reluctunt spy. he's afraid he'll be contacted soon to hand
over state-of-the-art computer programs.
Unidentified Man#1: Never forget, you belong to our organization.
Chung: ' Never forget," they told him, ' you belong to our organization.'
Man#1: You were sent by our organization.
Chung: ' You were sent by our organization, and this organization belongs to
the Communist Party.'
Chung; Twenty-three years ago this man, Kao Yen Men, came to the US. In recent
years, he lived a quiet life in this house in Cherlotte, North Carolina, and he
even bought a restaurrant in downtown Cherlotte. His neighbors never knew what
he was up to.
Unidentified Man #2: I really didn't know what to think. I mean, you know, we
came down to this nice little Southern city, and the next thing you know I'm
down the street from a spy. I thought this was, like, a little friction movie
or something, but...
Chung: Some movie. After a six-year FBI investigation, Kao was arrested and
charged with trying to steal the advanced Mar 48 torpedo, engine for the FA-18
Homet jet fighter and radar for the F-16 Falcon jet. Kao was caught, but
security expert 'Pat pattakos says most American companies are too naive about
the Chinese spy thret.
Mr. Arion "Pat" Pattakos (Beta Analysis): Right now a lot of people don't
really think of the protecting themselves.
Chung: Especially when the target is information and computer data...
Mr. Pattakos: They'll look at all this information here that they can access.
Unidentified man #3: Yes.
Chung: ...all part of the more and more accesible information superhighway.
Mr. Pattakos: I mean, it's very easy to know when a truck is missing in front
of your place. I mean, it's gone. It's physical object. But think about
information. Information is more intangible, and people may not know--realize
that it's lost.
Chung: pattakos says a new national strategy between business and government
can trap the spies. Eftimiades is much less optimistic.
Mr. Eftimiades: Once these spies get into American society, once they're deeply
rooted into our structure, our society's structure, we're not going to be able
to detect them. There is no way to stop them at this point.
Chung: The FBI is trying to help American corporation protect themselves from
espionage. The bureau has a program now to brief executives about how their
companies could become targets. Dan.
Attachment2: Mr. Shi's Original Protest Letter ..............................
Mr. Eric Ober
President, CBS News
524 West 57th St.
New York, NY 10019
Dear Mr. Ober:
As president of the Independent Federation of Chinese Students
and Scholars(IFCSS), I am writing you to express my deep concern
over the CBS Evening News report on Chinese espionage, which was
aired on May 19, 1994.
The report, with Connie Chung as the anchorwoman, apparently
aimed at warning American businesses of Chinese information
espionage. However, it was structured in such a manner as might
very well introduce a bias into American people's perception of
ordinary Chinese citizens.
The report began with these words:
"Every day, planeloads of Chinese citizens arrive legally in
the United States, ordinary people. But to the Chinese
government, some of them may be future spies, who a few
years down the road, will be activated to steal America's
military and technological secrets, whether they want to or
There are several inappropriate points in this paragraph alone.
First, the number of people who might work as spies was greatly
exaggerated. China may or may not has the biggest spy network in
the United States in comparison with other countries, but the
absolute number of spies vis-a-vis the whole Chinese population
in the U.S. is very limited. By using words like "planeloads",
the report greatly exaggerated the proportion of spies. Secondly,
spies are not "ordinary people." The Chinese agency in charge of
espionage would not choose ordinary people as spies; on the
contrary, it relies on those who are most loyal to the Communist
Party. Ordinary Chinese coming to the United States, just like
ordinary Americans going to China, have impeccable business or
personal purposes and are very friendly with the country they
visit. Thirdly, Chinese people are not cowards, as was well
demonstrated in the 1989 Democracy Movement, therefore they could
not be forced to work as spies. Chung's statement "whether they
want or not" is at best a distortion of the integrity of the
Chinese people. It is well-known that despite repeated
intimidation from the Chinese government, Chinese students in the
U.S. are still carrying on the fight for democracy and freedom.
On the same day of this report on Chinese espionage, five Chinese
nationals embarked on a 360-hour hunger strike in front of the
White House demanding improvement in China's human rights
situation, which once again demonstrated the kind of courage
witnessed by people all over the world in 1989.
For ordinary Chinese students, America represents the land of
freedom. It was the American dream of liberty and democracy which
inspired thousands of young Chinese to lay down their lives on
Beijing's streets five years ago. Because of China's human rights
situation, many Chinese students are choosing to live in the
United States for the time being. Instead of spying for the
Chinese government, they are making great contributions to the
American society with their knowledge of advanced science and
technology and fostering a profound friendship between the two
In the past three days, my organization has received hundreds of
messages and phone calls from Chinese student nation-wide
expressing their concern over the report. They are worried that
the unrealistic picture painted by the CBS Evening News report
could negatively affect their life in the U.S.. It is my sincere
hope that CBS will take appropriate measures to mend the damages
done and present a balanced, realistic view of Chinese nationals
to the American public.
Thank you for your attention.
Vice President, Independent Federation of Chinese Students &
Attachment3: The response from CBS Vice President .........................
A Division of CBS Inc.
524 West 57 Street
New York, NY 10019
Hard News and Special Events
June 1, 1994
Dear Mr. Shi:
Your letter to Eric Ober, regarding Connie Chung's report
about the threat of Chinese government spying on U.S.
concerns, has come to my desk for a response since I am Vice
President of Hard News and Special Events.
On May 19th, we reported the Chinese Ministry of State
Security has recruited hundreds of ordinary Chinese citizens
to steal U.S. military, technological, trade and computer
secrets. This, according to the United States Defense
Information Agency in Washington. Within our report, we also
presented concrete examples of this having occurred
(including the arrest of a Chinese restaurant owner in North
Carolina, charged with trying to buy parts for two jet
Between 1986 and 1993, one in eight of all illegal export
enforcement cases closed by U.S. Commerce Department
involved the People's Republic of China. Security experts
have told CBS News that many of the spy cases uncovered are
then hushed up and the suspects deported, so the problem may
be even greater than we reported.
Our report was responsible and important. We stand by it. In
doing this story, we in no way intended to suggest that the
recruits represent anything other than a minority of the
Chinese population in this country and we do not believe
that we, in any way suggested otherwise.
Furthermore, we have led network coverage of those brave,
freedom-loving Chinese who have fought government
repression. We have risked censorship, and worse, to bring
those stories to the American public. However, our job is to
bring ALL stories to the attention of the public, even
those that may make some viewers uncomfortable, That is the
very definition of a free press.
If damage IS done because of our reporting on the Chinese
government's effort to spy on American institutions and
American business, it is the fault of bigoted viewers who
draw subjective conclusion from objective reporting. We wish
we could control that, but we can't.