4 Ways China has been spying on the United States for decades

Team Mighty
Apr 11, 2023 5:20 AM PDT
3 minute read
china spying

SUMMARY

For anyone who thinks China’s biggest threat to Americans’ personal information is TikTok, just because it’s owned by Chinese firm…

For anyone who thinks China’s biggest threat to Americans’ personal information is TikTok, just because it’s owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, remember: It can always get worse. China has actually ramped up its intelligence operations inside the United States for decades, since at least 2005, according to the China experts at Foreign Policy.

In their words, the Chinese government has been waging a clandestine war against the United States ever since, and the U.S. hardly noticed. We were too busy ramping up our own war, the Global War on Terror. So while we were trying to keep the world safe from international terrorism, our enemies were using it as a chance to infiltrate while we were focused elsewhere. 

The Chinese government has taken advantage of our time spent disrupting and destroying terror networks that might have otherwise attacked us, our allies, and even the enemies of the US who exploited our efforts.

Take a look at the 4 ways China has been spying on the United States for decades

1. The MSS dismantled a U.S. spy network in Beijing

China’s Ministry of State Security, or MSS, its civilian intelligence service, discovered and destroyed a major CIA intelligence network in the Chinese capital in 2010. It’s not really provocative that an intelligence service would run a counterintelligence op in their own capital, but no one is sure how the MSS caught on to the network.

However it was compromised, it led to the killing of dozens of CIA agents (which, to be clear, are Chinese citizens working for American handlers. The CIA calls it clandestine operatives “officers”). Some think it could have been the result of a hacking operation or due to a mole inside the CIA. 

The headquarters of the Ministry of Public Security near Tiananmen Square are reported to also function as MSS headquarters.

2. Chinese Industry

The China we know today was vastly different from the China of 2005. When China’s economy, military, and political power began getting noticeably stronger, Chinese President Hu Jintao called it a “peaceful rise.” His successor, Xi Jinping tossed that right out almost immediately. China forces its corporate bodies to cooperate with its government, military, and intelligence services. That means TikTok is just one in a sea of Chinese companies collecting data.

Chinese companies are also known to conduct corporate espionage in new and innovative ways. Aside from simply hacking into Western computer systems, Chinese operatives pose as businessmen looking for high-level jobs just to steal information, tech, and trade secrets. The FBI opens a new China-related case every 12 hours. 

3. Hacking

Chinese hackers are working nonstop to access the most sensitive information they can, and they don’t really care about the risk involved. Way back in 2012, the NSA said the result of cybercrimes was the largest transfer of wealth in history. In 2014, it was reported that China stole information from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), where they keep all the top secret security clearance information for all official U.S. government personnel. 

If that wasn’t bad enough, in 2017, China hacked the credit rating agency Equifax. In that hack, it stole critical economic data from roughly half of American adults. Between these two hacks, it’s very likely that just being American means China has dirt on you. 

4. Agents of their own

It might come as a surprise that there are those in the U.S. government who would actually sell secrets to China, but this is why the Feds check on your references when you apply for a security clearance. It’s all listed in your SF-36 (which, just to remind you, the Chinese have definitely seen). Spies are motivated by a lot of things, and the Chinese will appeal to any and all of them.

Larry Wu-tai Chin spied on the US for China for 35 years. The MSS basically pushed Glenn Duffie Shriver into an ad hoc spy recruitment and training program. An alarming number of Physicists, Engineers, Defense Contractors and State Department officials for being seduced into providing information to the Chinese.

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Sign up for We Are The Mighty's newsletter and receive the mighty updates!

By signing up you agree to our We Are The Mighty's Terms of Use and We Are The Mighty's Privacy Policy.

SHARE