In order to grow this web, the MSS helps agents apply for immigration to the USA (16). The MSS has a plentiful group of potential candidates to choose from.
As far back as 20 years ago, over 30% of Harvard grads sought permanent residency in the U.S., and that number has grown exponentially. (17)
In his book “Chinese Intelligence Operations”, author Nicholas Eftimiades details how a typical Chinese student turned into an agent for the state.
Before coming to the USA, Chinese students are met by Communist party representatives. These Chinese government officials take the Chinese applicants under their wings.
Keeping An Eye Out for Spy Candidates
Those Chinese citizens are told to, “Remember your family, the Communist party, and our country” while overseas…
“Encouraged to do well in his academic program and to make all the high-level contacts that he could. Foreign knowledge was very beneficial to China. (18)”Beyond this, constant contact is maintained by the Communist party abroad and handlers overseas. These handlers are looking for two things: 1-Chinese who seem like good spy candidates and 2-potential threats ie, students who are pro-democracy.
Thus, the indoctrination and coercion of students begins at a very early stage (19).
Just to put this into perspective, what China is doing would be like having all US students being met by the CIA before they go abroad. Those students would be told to remember God and country, and would also be advised to keep an eye out for any bit of information that the student may be able to ‘obtain’ and help the USA.
Of course, the Chinese deny any such thing occurs, but this author believes differently.
During my first year in China, I witnessed a “special meeting” for all US-bound college students. Due to my presence, the meeting was light on party propaganda, but the students were told that in order to maintain their student visas, they had to maintain contact with a certain governmental body (20).
Monitoring Chinese Citizens Overseas
The process does not stop there. All incoming letters from overseas Chinese citizens are opened or confiscated by public security officials.
If anything is discovered that runs contrary to Communist party leanings, the letters are confiscated and family members are called in to explain the letters (21). The families and students can then be threatened with economic sanctions, or having their right to travel taken away should they not assist the party in its efforts at espionage.
For the student, this means that they may have to leave their University. For the family, such economic threats could mean a loss of job or worse.
In the days of email, this has only gotten easier. With companies such as Huawei and ZTE, which are recognized as arms of the Chinese military, monitoring all email access (22)(23), it is now quite easy to identify those students who do not faithfully uphold the Communist principles and who potentially can be turned.
The Communists look for students whose families are suffering, and then offer them financial rewards for helping the government. They also look for those who may pose a problem and threaten them as well.
Should the students disobey Beijing, their student status can be canceled.
Examples of Communist Threats
In one case, a Japanese man named Yosshizaki was accused of being an anti-China activist and was threatened with imprisonment in China (24).
The Communist party stated that because Yosshizaki was of “Chinese ancestry” and also had a child living in China, Yosshizaki was a Chinese citizen. He was threatened with jail or execution if he did not assist the Communists, and was also not allowed to take his son from China.
What makes this absurd is the fact that Yosshizaki had a Japanese passport.
Aside from threatening students, the Communists have set up overseas branches of the Communist party as well. The Chinese embassy abroad also plays an active role in recruiting future Chinese spies.
In order to help their recruitment effort, the Chinese communists have a ranking system for all foreign bound students (25).
“The Chinese are masters at hiding their true intentions, and they have been practicing it since Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War 2,000 years ago…What we saw was a masquerade, a smokescreen to make us believe these companies are not linked to the Chinese government. (26)” -In reference to Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE entering the US marketSuccessfully recruiting a spy is thus equal parts reward and coercion, as the following will show.
A Union Carbide official who was of Chinese descent was approached by Communist members. They suggested that he help out the “government” and steal secrets. While he declined, another Chinese man named Larry Chin did not (27). Mr Chin was not told that he would be helping the Communist party, but the people of China.
It was by appealing to his sense of heritage that Mr Chin decided to turn against the US.
Recent and Notable Incidences of Chinese Espionage
Xiang Dong Yu worked for Ford and then downloaded over 4,000 documents, which she took to her new employee Beijing Automotive Company.
The stolen documents represented tens of millions of dollars of know-how and years of work. The documents included sensitive design specs and other sensitive materials (28).
In January, Yuan Li pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets from Sanofi Aventis. Li was a research chemist who had access to a wide variety of research and data. Li had sold those trade secrets to a division of a Chinese chemical company.
Wen Chyu Liou was also convicted of stealing trade secrets and offering to sell them in China. Liou worked for Dow Chemicals for over 27 years and upon his retirement attempted to set up a spy ring within Dow with the goal of stealing and selling sensitive information.
In 2009, Dongfan Chung was found guilty of pilfering Boeing’s trade secrets. Chung had taken a veritable treasure trove of trade secrets which related to everything from the space shuttle, military rockets, bombers and helicopters. It was later admitted that thanks to Chung’s passing on that level of information, that the Chinese were able to advance their space and military goals.
Xian Hongwei was arrested in 2010 for attempting to purchase microchips to be used in the aerospace industry. The chips were produced by BAE systems, which helped develop systems for a fighter jet. It is assumed that it was espionage like this which allowed the Chinese to produce their new stealth fighter.
Other cases included LED’s from Dupont, engine tech from GM, insecticide from Dow and various secrets from Ford, all of these occurred in 2010 alone.
Other Cases of Espionage
In March, Tze Chao pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit economic espionage by selling secrets to Dupont’s titanium dioxide pigment to China’s Pangang Group. This case is notable as the Pangang Group is controlled by the Chinese government.
For the first time, the role of the Chinese government in stealing US secrets came to light.
In another egregious example, a Chinese employee of an American firm was caught as she attempted to board a plane bound for China with the booty. Hanjuan Jin, a software engineer, carried over 1,000 files from Motorola, the goal was to sell those files and secrets to the Chinese military and a Beijing-based company (29).
What is more disturbing is that while working for Motorola, Hanjuan Jin was not only stealing Motorola’s secrets, but working for another firm as well. The other firm – Lemko – has been accused of running a spy ring made of Chinese nationals whose goal it is to put Motorola out of business.
“Lemko, its CTO and its employees of Chinese descent are a part of a spy ring tied to the Chinese government and Chinese companies and their continuous serving of subpoenas on Lemko’s customers, suppliers, competitors and investors. (30)”Such an accusation may sound bold, but it appears much less so when one considers all of the facts.
Lemko’s CTO is Chinese and a former Motorola employee, as are many of the Lemko staff. It is not beyond reason to think that this band of Chinese nationals would not like to put Motorola out of business for many reasons. One reason is that Motorola’s demise may benefit Lemko, but more importantly Huawei, one of their main clients.
By knocking off Motorola, the Chinese would open the door for Huawei’s entry into the US market. In addition, the Chinese nationals could later work directly for Huawei. Even if this did not come to pass, they would know that they had done their part to help the people of China.
Remember that Huawei is generally accepted as working for the spy arm of the Chinese government and manufactures Internet routers and such (31). Interestingly enough, China’s Huawei allegedly got its start by illegally copying Cisco routers and US network equipment.
It should not come as a surprise that Cisco also competes with Huawei in many product groups as well.
Next Week: Other Methods China Uses to Steal U.S. Secrets
References & Image Credits:
19. The Australian
20. It was by a fluke that I heard the meeting and when my presence was noted the meeting came to a screeching halt. Although my Chinese skills were limited, a translator had given me the gist of what had happened.
21. Chinese Intelligence Operations, Nicholas Eftimiades
22. Washington Times
24. id. supra
29. 30. Net Security
WC is an American citizen living and working in China. He brings TSW readers a wealth of knowledge and experience in international affairs, culture and business. WC has 78 post(s) at Top Secret Writers
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Turning Chinese Citizens Around the World Into Spies