there’s beena dramatic escalation of Chinese espionage on US soil over the past decade,” sources in the US counterintelligence community have told CNN this weekend.
But some dramatic new examples have been revealed. For example, in 2017 China’s government offered to build a $100 million pavilion in Washington DC with an ornate 70-foot pagoda. US counterintelligence officials realized its location — two miles from the US Capitol — appeared “strategically placed on one of the highest points in Washington DC…a perfect spot for signals intelligence collection.”
Also alarming was that Chinese officials wanted to build the pagoda with materials shipped to the US in diplomatic pouches, which US Customs officials are barred from examining, the sources said. Federal officials quietly killed the project before construction was underway…
Since at least 2017, federal officials have investigated Chinese land purchases near critical infrastructure, shut down a high-profile regional consulate believed by the US government to be a hotbed of Chinese spies and stonewalled what they saw as clear efforts to plant listening devices near sensitive military and government facilities.
Among the most alarming things the FBI uncovered pertains to Chinese-made Huawei equipment atop cell towers near US military bases in the rural Midwest. According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, the FBI determined the equipment was capable of capturing and disrupting highly restricted Defense Department communications, including those used by US Strategic Command, which oversees the country’s nuclear weapons…. It’s unclear if the intelligence community determined whether any data was actually intercepted and sent back to Beijing from these towers. Sources familiar with the issue say that from a technical standpoint, it’s incredibly difficult to prove a given package of data was stolen and sent overseas.
The Chinese government strongly denies any efforts to spy on the US…. But multiple sources familiar with the investigation tell CNN that there’s no question the Huawei equipment has the ability to intercept not only commercial cell traffic but also the highly restricted airwaves used by the military and disrupt critical US Strategic Command communications, giving the Chinese government a potential window into America’s nuclear arsenal…. As Huawei equipment began to proliferate near US military bases, federal investigators began taking notice, sources familiar with the matter told CNN. Of particular concern was that Huawei was routinely selling cheap equipment to rural providers in cases that appeared to be unprofitable for Huawei — but which placed its equipment near military assets.