In the most recent escalation of China’s espionage conflict with the United States, Chinese nationals, often posing as tourists, acquired access to top-secret military installations on more than 100 occasions over the past few years, according to a startling new report.
Wall Street Journal reports that in 2022, officials, including FBI agents and Defense Department officials, convened summits to combat the expanding problem. Authorities told the newspaper that the issue posed a “espionage threat.”
In recent years, Communist nation operatives have gone to bizarre extremes, including scuba diving near Cape Canaveral, wandering onto a missile launch site in New Mexico, and professing to be residing on an Army base in Alaska.
Officials who are investigating the surveillance say that those who are discovered are usually cited under local trespassing laws, given meagre penalties and told not to return. Federal law does not cover trespassing offenses, which prevents a more thorough investigation, Democratic Representative Jason Crow told WSJ.
This latest bombshell comes just a few short months after the Chinese surveillance balloon, which US officials say had rudimentary flight controls, flew over a number of US nuclear missile facilities in late January and early February before being brought down by an F-22 Raptor fighter off the coast of South Carolina.
When apprehended, the Chinese nationals deliver what appears to be a rehearsed script to security guards, claiming to be lost travelers, according to unnamed officials.
The Chinese nationals are ‘pressed’ into national service, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Chinese Embassy Rejects Espionage Allegations, Calls for Improved U.S.-China Relations
When queried about the allegation, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. was confident, telling the newspaper that the claims were “purely malicious fabrications.”
Liu Pengyu said, “We urge the relevant U.S. officials to abandon the Cold War mentality, stop groundless accusations, and do more things that are conducive to enhancing mutual trust between the two countries and friendship between the two peoples.”
In a ‘recent case,’ as described by the Journal, a group of Chinese nationals claimed to be lodging at a Holiday Inn in Fort Wainright, Alaska.
Security at the base became immediately dubious as tourism in the area is extremely unusual. The base is home to the 11th Airborne Division of the United States Army.
Former Senate Select Committee on Intelligence official Emily Harding told WSJ that the Chinese espionage operation is more of a numbers game.
The Chinese advantage is that they are willing to send vast numbers of people at collection. “The advantage the Chinese have is they are willing to throw people at collection in large numbers. If a few of them get caught, it will be very difficult for the U.S. government to prove anything beyond trespassing, and those who don’t get caught are likely to collect something useful,” Harding said.