The regime has conducted illegal data gathering on U.S. defense strategies and sowed discord among American citizens through cyberattacks and disinformation efforts, which is just one of China’s several spy campaigns against America.
Concerns about the scope of China’s espionage operations against America and its citizens have been raised by news that the Pentagon is monitoring a Chinese communist surveillance balloon that has been floating over the country this week.
How far, though, will the dictatorship go in order to spy on and destabilize the US?
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which governs China as a one-party state, engages in considerably more extensive and sophisticated espionage than is evident from simple sensor balloons. These activities range from human intelligence gathering to international repression plans, cybercrime and hacking, the theft of intellectual property, and even the collection of genetic samples from Americans.
According to a former Air Force general, “If [the CCP has] any access to American society, then they’ll use that access to undermine American society.”
Subscribe to GreatGameIndia
HUMINT and Transnational Repression
The CCP’s traditional human intelligence (HUMINT) efforts, which rely on person-to-person exchanges of information, both knowingly and unknowingly, are crucial to its efforts to spy on the United States.
The Ministry of State Security (MSS), the regime’s premier intelligence agency, is directly in charge of many of these initiatives, which show how deeply ingrained the CCP’s HUMINT network is in American culture.
One of the most notorious of these cases involves Christine Fang, also known as “Fang Fang,” an alleged Chinese spy who pretended to be a student while developing relationships with a number of politicians in California and elsewhere, including Rep. Eric Swalwell when he served on the city council. She used this access to gather information on aspiring politicians. At least two Midwestern mayors with whom Fang allegedly had romantic or sexual encounters were the targets of her attacks.
However, not just politicians are the targets of this espionage. The CCP frequently chooses to target ordinary Americans, especially those of Chinese origin, in its spying and harassment operations.
To silence and intimidate those who hold opposing views of the CCP, MSS agents and their U.S. proxies have allegedly stalked an American Olympic figure skater and her family, worked with New York police officers to gather information on the Asian American community and even planned an attack on a U.S. Army veteran running for Congress.
In testimony, FBI Director Christopher Wray claimed that Chinese spies and their go-betweens deliberately tracked Americans and invaded their homes and cars with bugs.
Cyber Theft and Hacking
Similar to this, the regime has conducted illegal data gathering on U.S. defense strategies and sowed discord among American citizens through cyberattacks and disinformation efforts.
The CCP is the most malicious cyber actor in the world, according to U.S. intelligence officials, and its affiliates have stolen more data from Americans than from all other countries combined.
As shown by numerous significant cyberattacks by Chinese hackers over the years, including the breaches at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, credit-reporting agency Equifax, Mariott hotels, and insurer Anthem, Americans’ sensitive personal information is likewise a prized target. The personal information of hundreds of millions of Americans was stolen as a result of these hacks.
According to officials and academics, the regime is using this enormous cache of personal information about Americans to support its espionage and foreign influence activities as well as feed its artificial intelligence technologies.
Social Media and Telecommunications
The CCP also uses the social media and telecoms behemoths that are owned by China against unwary American people by using its control over the data of Chinese firms.
The most eloquent illustration of this is probably TikTok, a well-known app for short videos that are owned by the Chinese internet firm ByteDance.
Social media behemoth TikTok has censored stories Americans see at the request of the CCP and has given access to its Chinese engineers to user data from the United States. It has been dubbed by intelligence leaders a “national security threat” and described as a “weaponized military application” by security experts. Because Chinese enterprises are required by CCP legislation to submit data to the regime upon request, officials have frequently raised concerns about the app.
Relatedly, ByteDance personnel secretly followed American journalists they thought were writing about the company using geolocation information from TikTok.
Other Internet companies, such as telecommunications, are also subject to the hazards that Chinese social media apps represent to national security. Because of this, Washington has cracked down in recent years on Chinese telecom companies like Huawei and ZTE.
Deep connections between Huawei and the Chinese military and intelligence have been discovered. While the Canadian government said the corporation actively employed CCP spies, federal prosecutors have accused the company of conspiring to steal trade secrets. Additionally, the company apparently actively participated in covert attacks on American and Australian networks as early as 2012.
The CCP’s efforts to collect every scrap of information from the United States go beyond spying and intellectual property. In fact, the attack extends to Americans’ genetic makeup, which is much further down.
A senior U.S. counterintelligence agency warned in 2021 that the clinical and genetic information of American people gathered by Chinese biotechnology corporations through their collaborations with U.S. institutions posed hazards to national security.
According to congressional sources, corporations like genome-sequencing firm BGI collect large amounts of DNA that might be used in a variety of ways against the United States.
Importantly, while being a privately held business, BGI has ties to the CCP. Du Yutao, the Party secretary of BGI’s research institute, was quoted in January 2018 by China’s state-run media Xinhua as stressing the value of understanding and putting into practice “the spirit behind the 19th National Congress,” a twice-decade CCP gathering.
Experts speculate that BGI’s efforts to collect the genetic material of Americans may be connected to a more sinister desire to create weapons to be used against Americans because the company maintains direct ties to the CCP and its scientists have expressed interest in the regime’s efforts to develop biochemical weapons.
Nuclear and Hypersonic Research
The CCP employs state-sponsored talent initiatives in addition to aggressive spying operations against the United States to give itself a long-term advantage in academic analysis.
Such talent programs seek to create a new generation of researchers in fields essential for China’s technical and military advancement by bringing in professionals and academics from other countries to study and work in China.
The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the most cutting-edge nuclear research facility in the United States, is the most illuminating example of this trend.
A source claims that at least 162 former LANL researchers are currently employed by China, where many of them help the government build its most advanced weaponry, such as hypersonic missiles. At least one of these researchers previously held a top-secret security clearance in the United States.
The CCP’s talent programs attracted many of the researchers who worked at LANL to the country for training and employment in fields crucial to national security. For instance, at least 59 of those who worked at the LANL and afterward traveled back to China to do research were associated with the “Thousand Talents Program” or its youth wing.
To that purpose, one study on the subject discovered that “[Chinese] talent programs are ever-expanding recruitment networks,” with which the regime continuously usurps knowledge from the United States.
Strategic Purchases of Farmland
A fear that the government could conduct espionage or otherwise harm U.S. national security interests has been raised by the fact that Chinese corporations with ties to the CCP are also buying strategically important pieces of land in the United States.
Chinese land purchases in recent years in Texas and North Dakota, both of which were close to American military bases, alarmed people and decision-makers in state and federal administrations.
A Chinese billionaire once bought 140,000 acres of Texas land. The billionaire in question is one Sun Guangxin, who apparently employs numerous military and government personnel and retains close ties to the CCP.
According to the National Association of Realtors, Chinese investors invested more than $6 billion in U.S. real estate between March 2021 and March 2022, making them the greatest foreign buyer in terms of money spent.
Following warnings from the U.S. Air Force that the project posed a “significant threat to national security,” a contentious Chinese corn mill project in Grand Forks, North Dakota, on land located within 15 miles of a U.S. Air Force Base housing sensitive drone, satellite, and surveillance technology, is now expected to be abandoned.
An article released last year on a report has brought forth shocking news about China’s espionage plot at US weapons and nuclear labs, as they kept swaying key senior experts from the United States.
Concerns over Chinese ownership of American agriculture have been raised by numerous state leaders as well. As a result, some states are developing legislation to ban or limit Chinese corporations from purchasing American businesses and agricultural land. South Dakota, Florida, Texas, Virginia, Missouri, and Iowa are some of these states.