Larry Wu-Tai Chin
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|Larry Wu-tai Chin|
|Allegiance||People's Republic of China|
|Birth name||金无怠, Jin Wudai|
|Born||August 17, 1922
|Died||February 21, 1986, aged 63
Virginia, United States
|Buried||Alta Mesa Cemetery, Palo Alto, California|
|Alma mater||Yenching University|
Larry Wu-tai Chin (simplified Chinese: 金无怠; traditional Chinese: 金無怠; pinyin: Jīn Wúdài; 1922 – February 22, 1986) was a Chinese language translator working for the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service. He sold classified documents to the People's Republic of China from 1952 to 1985.
Chin served as a Chinese translator in the US Army during the Korean War, at which time he is believed to have first come into contact with Chinese intelligence. He may have supplied the Chinese with information about prisoners of war captured by American, South Korean, and allied forces. He misrepresented the intelligence that he was translating from captured Chinese soldiers resulting in the loss of US forces and missed tactical opportunities. Many of these Chinese soldiers intended to defect to South Korea. He also provided the Chinese with the names of captured Chinese soldiers who were revealing information or intended to defect. The Chinese then specifically requested these soldiers by name to be released back to China before the armistice negotiations could take place. This delayed the negotiations process for over a year, resulting in countless lost lives.
Following his military enlistment, Chin applied to and was accepted by the CIA, where he continued his espionage for China. According to No Kum-Sok, the North Korean pilot who defected with a MiG-15, as part of General Mark Clark's Operation Moolah, Larry Chin was one of his CIA handlers after his defection. During his long term as a spy, Chin is now regarded as having been lavishly compensated for his services. His skill at laundering those espionage profits is reputed to be without peer. Chin purchased apartments and tenements in the low-income section of Baltimore, Maryland and made huge gains as a slumlord. Chin also cultivated the persona of a womanizer with a gambling addiction. It was later believed that while Chin did indeed show signs of compulsive gambling, that he did not so much apply his espionage profits towards financing gambling junkets; rather he used the cultivated persona of a high roller to help cover up his unexplained affluence from espionage as gambling winnings. Some CIA coworkers noted suspicious behavior concerns Chin's lifestyle did not match up with what a CIA salary could afford, but this was dismissed largely by friends and coworkers who gambled with Chin and would occasionally see him indeed win at gambling. Not once during Chin's tenure in the Army or CIA was he suspected of espionage or placed under investigation. In fact, in 1980 Chin was awarded a medal from the CIA for his long and distinguished service. Only five years later did any allegation of espionage arise. In 1985, Larry Chin had charges prepared against him for espionage on behalf of China.
In 1986, Chin was sentenced to a lengthy prison term for espionage and tax evasion. Chin admitted to the espionage, but he also claimed his deeds were intended to pursue reconciliation between China and the United States. Chin stated he would fully cooperate with debriefings in an effort to avoid further charges, but on the day of his sentencing, when guards arrived at Chin's cell in the Prince William-Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center to transport him to court, they found him lifeless with a garbage bag over his head. An autopsy concluded that Chin had committed suicide in his cell. His body was buried in Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto, California.
Given Chin's money laundering skills, it is unknown how much money the Chinese paid him for his spying. Chin had rolled over most of his espionage income into real estate, as evidenced by his purchases of low-income housing. It is believed that Chin's proceeds exceeded $1 million, making him one of only five known American spies to have made such a large amount by espionage. Aldrich Ames, Clyde Conrad, Robert Hanssen and John Walker are the other four.
- Kum-Sok, No (2007). A MiG-15 to freedom: memoir of the wartime North Korean defector who first delivered the secret fighter jet to the Americans in 1953. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co.,. p. 156.
- United Press International (1986-02-21). "Ex-CIA Man Who Spied for China Kills Self in Jail Cell : Officials Say He Suffocated Using a Plastic Bag". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2015-10-14.
- Engelberg, Stephen (1986-02-22). "SPY FOR CHINA FOUND SUFFOCATED IN PRISON, APPARENTLY A SUICIDE". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-10-15.