Spying is not new, and neither are many of the conventional methods employed, but the recent spotlight on a Chinese spy balloon shot down only after traversing the United States has at least one expert suggesting Americans have reached a “watershed” on grasping the full extent of China’s intelligence gathering.
Stories of espionage are often readily dismissed by the public as isolated or the concern of officials in the government. After all, it may be difficult for the average citizen to relate to having their chauffeur or love interest turn out to be an agent for a foreign government as appeared to happen with California Democrats Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Eric Swalwell, respectively.
Days after a spy balloon was shot down after spending the better part of a week potentially gathering all kinds of sensitive information, Matt McInnis, a senior fellow for the Institute for the Study of War’s China program spoke with Fox News Digital to highlight the opportunity presented to illuminate the threat posed by the Asian nation.
“What was interesting about this whole incident over the past week has been it is a wakeup call for your average American about how aggressive and extensive China’s espionage activities are in this country,” he said. “There is no more aggressive espionage activity going on probably in the world than what China has been conducting in the last few decades.”
As previously reported, many public officials have endeavored to curb the access of China in the United States through the prevention of land grabs, or as occurred in North Dakota, a unanimous vote to prohibit development from a Chinese-owned company on property near a sensitive U.S. Air Force Base.
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McInnis hopes the lesson from the still-developing story of the spy balloon will be a “watershed” in triggering more actions like this, “especially for folks that are in a position to really do something significant.”
In addition to the near and present concerns over Chinese-owned TikTok that even liberal comedian Bill Maher has acknowledged, the fellow reminded how integrated into society intelligence gatherers are through the use of bribes and blackmail as well as the funding of people and institutions
“My recollection of these cases is that [money] seems to be a big motivator. And then others, who have family and family ties within China, can serve as sources of potential nationalism or pressure on their families. That has been the more common thing,” McInnis said.
In July for instance, men linked to the Department of Homeland Security were indicted as part of a “transnational repression scheme” meant to silence Chinese dissidents living in the United States.
Funding of educational institutions through the Confucius Institute “provides entrée into a lot of institutions, organizations, education business, civic organization that allows China to theoretically better understand how America works.”
“[They learn] how our business community, the scientific community, political organizations and public opinion works so they can develop and refine more influence and disinformation and other operations in the future,” he told the outlet. “I think they understand us better than we understand them.”
“There are tons of classic stories over the decades about how Chinese security services set up surveillance operations in hotels of casinos that Americans or others frequent and try to hold them and pressure them for blackmail, for recording drug use, sexual activity and other things that may be going on in these places.”
Using her experience as a former intelligence officer, the president of Doctrine & Strategy Consulting, Rebekah Koffler, added to these assertions and told Fox News Digital, “China seeks to obtain data on technologies at the initial stages of the R&D cycle before all the relevant data becomes classified at the higher level and is more difficult to obtain, certainly before an actual weapon system is designed.”
“This approach allows China to save money by not making the same financial outlays on R&D and speed up the development and implementation phases. Some Chinese military hardware looks similar to U.S. systems because it’s built based on stolen technology and sometimes design,” she continued.
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) out of 160 known instances of Chinese espionage toward the United States between 2000 and 2020, 26 percent were labeled “non-Chinese actors” described as “usually U.S. persons recruited by Chinese officials.”
Koffler concluded, “China is the biggest counter-intelligence threat to the United States, followed by Russia.”
Even President Joe Biden, who has long been considered compromised regarding the reason due to alleged connections to his son’s foreign business deals abroad, seemed to address the threat in his State of the Union address.
Mind you, he did so by taking an America-first posture like his predecessor, former President Donald Trump while simultaneously trying to shift blame. “Before I came to office, the story was about how the People’s Republic of China was increasing its power and America was falling in the world.”
Biden went on to state during the passing moment, “But make no mistake: as we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did.”
“And let’s be clear: winning the competition with China should unite all of us,” he added in a truly bipartisan statement. “We face serious challenges across the world.”
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