A report by the Wall Street Journal has revealed that roughly 100 incidents have occurred in recent years where Chinese nationals have tried to access U.S. military and sensitive sites.
The report, which cites U.S. officials, says that the incidents have taken place at a variety of locations, including military bases, government facilities, and research labs. In some cases, the Chinese nationals have posed as tourists or students, while in others they have used fraudulent documents.
Many of the incidents occur in rural areas where tourists are not typically found, and the nationals address the security guards with what appears to be scripted language, not normal discourse. When they are stopped, they insist they have simply gotten lost.
“The advantage the Chinese have is they are willing to throw people at collection in large numbers,” Emily Harding, a former deputy staff director at the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told the Journal. “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.”
Some of the Chinese nationals gained unauthorized access to military bases “by speeding through security checkpoints,” Sue Gough, a Pentagon spokeswoman, admitted, adding, “These individuals are often cited criminally, barred from future installation access and escorted off-base.”
“The relevant claims are purely ill-intentioned fabrications,” Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, declared, snapping, “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 early June, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH) told ABC News’ “This Week,” “What we’re seeing is an unbelievable aggression by China. If you look at the balloon that flew over the United States, the Chinese police stations, the aggressiveness against our both planes and ships in international water, it goes right to the heart of what President Xi said when he stood next to Putin in Russia, where he said, they’re trying to make change that had not happened in 100 years.”
“When you have, for example, a balloon that transits all across the United States, and the administration doesn’t respond until the game’s over, until it’s over the Atlantic, you start — and when you have police stations that have been operating within the United States, that took forever in order for them to take action, you get this sort of sense of permissiveness, that I think the administration needs to step up and make clear that China has identified itself as an adversary, and we’re going to treat it as such,” he added.
Chinese nationals, sometimes posing as tourists, have accessed military bases and other sensitive U.S. sites as many as 100 times in recent years, incidents that American officials describe as a potential espionage threat https://t.co/HBeQzws1io
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) September 4, 2023