Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseBorn in Beijing, Qing Dynasty China in 1910, Li Li became a successful entertainer starting in the late 1920s. In the 1930s, she became a favorite among several influential men, including warlord Zhang Xueliang and several Japanese generals. In the mid-1930s, she became a film actress based out of Shanghai, China. She first came in contact with Chinese Nationalist Party intelligence chief Dai Li around this time, who wished to use her connections with the Japanese. After the Japanese invasion of China in 1937, she became despised by many for being a collaborator. In 1938, she secretly joined Dai's Military Bureau of Investigations and Statistics, an intelligence agency equivalent to the combination of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Secret Service in modern American parlance. In one of her most successful exploits, she was invited by a General Matsuda of the Japanese Southern China Area Army to entertain the troops in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China. That evening, at the general's home, she proceeded to intoxicate Matsuda and then read through some of the documents on the desk in his study. She memorized the route of a 10-ship Japanese Army troop convoy and reported this intelligence to the bureau, which ultimately led to a successful raid that caused about 1,000 Japanese killed or wounded. She was rumored to have had an affair with the bureau's chief Dai Li; Dai was rumored to be the father of her son, who bore her surname. In 1944, she married entertainer Zhang Yingming; the two had a son in 1945, but they would be separated by 1950. In 1955, she moved from Hong Kong to Taiwan, Republic of China. She passed away in Taiwan in 1983. It was not until her private memoirs were published in 2010 that people first learned of her spy career, thus clearing her name.
Last Major Revision: Jun 2015
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