Speaking at the Nixon Library last week, Secretary Pompeo sounded a clarion call for the U.S. and its allies to harness “more creative and assertive ways” of countering, defending and deterring China’s multifarious aggression because “if the free world doesn’t change Communist China, Communist China will surely change us.”
Pompeo called for a coalition of democratic nations to join in the “mission of our time” because “Beijing’s actions threaten our people and our prosperity.”
Emphasizing the “free world must triumph over this new tyranny,” Pompeo recognized the U.S. and China are on a path towards a 21st century Cold War, which like the 20th century U.S.-Soviet conflict, would be based on two competing ideologies. Democratic principles of liberty, pluralism, and freedom are antithetical to China’s autocratic, communist state and Xi’s cult of personality.
Through its ubiquitous state surveillance and “Great Firewall,” China seeks to deny its citizens freedom of expression and access to the outside world while exploiting open western societies to conduct espionage and propaganda influence operations.
Having served as CIA director, Pompeo understands well how the exposure of increasingly brazen Chinese cloak and dagger espionage on U.S. soil could be a bellwether for a 21st century Cold War.
Last week the U.S. closed China’s Houston consulate after accusing Chinese intelligence officers of trying to steal intellectual property and protected research data from Texas’ oil and natural gas industries as well as its medical community including MD Anderson Cancer Center and Texas A&M medical system.
NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, which conducts human spaceflight training, is located in Houston. And so is GH America, a wholly-owned Chinese subsidiary, which purchased over 100,000 acres in Val Verde County, Texas, as cover for collecting intelligence on U.S. border operations and nearby Laughlin Air Force Base as well as plugging into Texas’ electrical grid.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., assessed China’s Houston consulate served as a “central node in the massive spying operation China uses to undermine the U.S.” Rubio alleged Chinese consulate officials had used CCP community groups to target influential Texans.
The Chinese Houston consulate was also responsible for Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In response, China ordered the closure of the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, which was responsible for tracking China’s southwest region including Tibet, inhabited by non-ethnic Chinese minorities.
China is flooding the zone with an expansive array of espionage operations inside the U.S. homeland. In December 2019, the U.S. expelled two Chinese officials suspected of being intelligence officers, after they were caught attempting to access a sensitive U.S. military base in Norfolk, Va.
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Last week U.S. authorities arrested Chinese researcher Tang Juan, who was charged with visa fraud after lying about her affiliation with the Chinese military. She was reportedly seeking to steal research data and intellectual property from University of California Davis oncology department.
Juan was one of four Chinese nationals recently charged with purposely concealing their military background to conduct espionage in the U.S. Prosecutors highlighted China’s effort to deploy its army scientists to the U.S. to “take advantage of our open society and exploit academic institutions.”
U.S. prosecutors also announced criminal charges against two Chinese computer hackers accused of stealing data on behalf of China’s Ministry of State Security, from biotechnology firms in Massachusetts and California, working on a coronavirus vaccine.
These recent revelations about Chinese spying follow a litany of ruthless targeting of U.S. academics and national security officials and a notorious Chinese 2015 hacking operation into the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Espionage has been a critically important tool, on which General Secretary Xi has relied to project power abroad and exercise Orwellian big brother control over China’s population at home. China engages in cyber spying, Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Human Intelligence (HUMINT), all of which complement a strategy to steal intellectual property, high technology and state secrets.
China portrays any effort to counter their pernicious aggression as “global anti-China sentiment” when in fact the U.S. and like-minded allies are simply defending their national interests.
Countering Chinese espionage is of the highest priority for U.S. national security as it should be for so many other nations also under siege from Chinese spying.
Pompeo’s speech was therefore a call for our intelligence community to keep up the pressure on China by uncloaking and disrupting Chinese spying operations both unilaterally and in close partnership with our allies.
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