Friday, September 30, 2011

WAKE UP DC - THE ASIAN CENTURY IS HERE, Part 3 (PRC ESPIONAGE)

RECENT PRC ESPIONAGE

JUST THIS WEEK it was revealed that the Head of the Republic of China "command’s communications and electronic information department", Maj. Gen. Lo Hsien-che, has been sentenced to life for spying for the PRC. In an interesting side note AFP reports the honey trap operative who lured the general to give up Po Sheng was carrying an Australian passport.
Lo’s betrayal has stirred particularly acute alarm. His job gave him access to some of Taiwan’s most closely guarded secrets — involving a new command, control and communications system known as Po Sheng, or “Broad Victory,” long a target of Chinese espionage here and in the United States. [Po Sheng is ] built around sophisticated and highly secret American technology. Reported Andrew Higgins in the Post.
In commenting on the recent US arms sales to Taiwan, J. Michael Cole, a Taiwan-based journalist and security analyst wrote in the WSJ
 ‘Anyone who has followed developments in Taiwan over the years knows how deeply Chinese forces have infiltrated Taiwan’s military, especially its senior officers,’
"He noted that, because Taiwan is so infested with Chinese spies, any US weapons sales to the nation could result in sensitive military secrets ending up in Beijing" concluded The Diplomat which ran a detailed story, featured below.  The Chinese have not hidden the significant expansion of intelligence related programs in their University system.

This is not an isolated case. Since 2008 there has been "57 defendants in federal prosecutions" charged with Chinese espionage in the US. The former head of US Counterintelligence (NCIX) Michele Van Cleave was remarkably vocal about the Chinese threat to the US:
The Chinese stole the design secrets to all -- repeat, all -- U.S. nuclear weapons, enabling them to leapfrog generations of technology development and put our nuclear arsenal, the country's last line of defense, at risk.
‘The Chinese are the biggest problem we have with respect to the level of effort that they’re devoting against us versus the level of attention we are giving to them,’ Michelle Van Cleave told CBS during an interview. Longer CSPAN interview here. See here detailed assessment on NCIX under her leadership here.
The United States is a spy's paradise. Today, most of the world's governments (even friendly ones) and roughly 35 suspected terrorist organizations run intelligence operations against the United States. [They do so] with unprecedented independence from the safe havens of their diplomatic establishments, leaving our counterintelligence efforts in the dust. Seven years after we created [NCIX], there is no central clearing-house to support operations against the spies who are working against us around the globe or to formulate policy options for President Obama and his top aides. And we still know surprisingly little about hostile intelligence services relative to the amount of harm they can do. Van Cleave Post Op Ed Feb 2009.
From The Diplomat
That’s not all. ‘China has managed to gather a great deal of information on US stealth technology, naval propulsion systems, electronic warfare systems, and nuclear weapons through espionage,’ says Larry Wortzel, a commissioner and former chairman on the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, and the ex-director of the US Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute. ‘That is documented in convictions in US courts.’ Reported in The Diplomat Sept 2011.
Some of the most recent cases include Dongfan Chung, Glen Shriver, and Gregg Bergersen. Dongfan "Greg" Chung, a Boeing engineer who collected 200,000 pages of classified material, has been convicted for his activities (see an earlier Time story). Glenn Shriver was an American student who "took $70,000 from individuals he knew to be Chinese intelligence officers to try to land a job with a U.S. government agency -- first the State Department and later the CIA." Gregg W. Bergersen was a DoD official who brazenly and knowingly broke the law. You can watch this convicted traitor sell America out in this 60 Minutes video. Yet another example of the excellent work the FBI continues to do in CI. Tai Shen Kuo, his handler faces prison in the US.

Of the 57 defendants in federal prosecutions since 2008 noted above, the following are a handful of examples including from a comprehensive report by AP carried by the Boston.com site:
--In Honolulu, a former B-2 bomber engineer and one-time professor at Purdue [Noshir Gowadia an India-born, naturalized U.S. citizen] gets 32 years in prison for working with the Chinese to develop a vital part for a cruise missile in a case that a high-ranking Justice Department official said resulted in the leak of "some of our country's most sensitive weapons-related designs." Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson wrote in a court filing "China aggressively seeks U.S. defense technologies, and the People's Liberation Army are now shown to have been actively working on stealth aircraft designs, most certainly during Gowadia's visits there," noting Gowadia worked in and with China for two years developing a stealth engine nozzle design.
--In Boston, a Harvard-educated businessman is sent to prison, along with his ex-wife, for conspiring for a decade to illegally export parts used in military radar and electronic warfare systems to research institutes that manufacture items for the Chinese military. The Department of Defense concluded the illegal exports "represented a serious threat to U.S. national and regional defense security interests."
--In Los Angeles, a man goes to jail for selling Raytheon-manufactured thermal imaging cameras to a buyer in Shanghai whose company develops infrared technology. The cameras are supposed to be restricted for export to China because of "their potential use in a wide variety of military and civilian applications," according to court documents.
Michele Van Cleave emphasized the use of commercial espionage activities to suggest how far behind the US has become. There are many examples of this kind of activity working effectively for the Chinese. For example, the use of front companies like Chitron, run by Zhen Zhou "Alex" Wu, sentenced in Jan 2011 for "conspiring to illegally export restricted technologies".
According to the Department of Defense, [Wu's] exported items are "vital for Chinese military electronic warfare, military radar, fire control, military guidance and control equipment, and satellite communications."
Chinese commercial espionage is taking place all over the world, for two recent stories see cases in Europe and Australia. (See also an additional interesting story about political espionage in Australia that resembled similar stories of Chinese hacking of US Defense Secretary Gates and others).
  
Commercial espionage against US and other foreign visitors inside China is rife according to a recent report in the Post which quoted  said Kenneth Lieberthal, a former senior White House official for Asia who is at the Brookings Institution as saying
I’ve been told that if you use an iPhone or BlackBerry, everything on it — contacts, calendar, e-mails — can be downloaded in a second. All it takes is someone sitting near you on a subway waiting for you to turn it on, and they’ve got it.
US Ambassador to Beijing Gary Locke
It would appear from reports that the same techniques were used against then Australian Prime Minister (now Foreign Minister) Kevin Rudd.


Use of the Chinese diaspora based on sense of kinship even in third generation overseas born Chinese is well known. "Chinese people used to think that people that have ancestral roots in China would behave in a way that would always please China," Xiong Zhiyong, a U.S. relations expert at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing said. The Chinese reaction to the US Ambassador to China, Gary Locke, for not not being sympathetic to the Chinese cause makes for interesting reading and a useful cultural insight along these lines.

SUMMARY

There has been a long history of Chinese efforts to penetrate the US - this is hardly news. One of the most famous cases - which is dated now but had a significant impact - was the case of CIA officer Larry Chin "a naturalized U.S. citizen who in 1986 admitted to spying for China during his almost three decades with the CIA" (see here for a bibliography on Chin case). Nor is it the case that it has always run in China's favor. The Chinese have their own espionage problems.. "a sea change has occurred in Chinese vulnerability to foreign intelligence efforts".

As part of the Wake Up Series, MIL INT thought it was a worth while exercise to bring together recent reporting on Chinese spying to reemphasize the significance of the ongoing threat and to put that in the context of the geostrategic machinations featured in Parts 1 & 2. If Michele Van Cleave's criticisms of NCIX remain valid, then as part of the overall re-focusing on Asia, the US has to adopt her recommendations for improving NCIX as a matter of national priority.

Part 1 (Why Asia Should be #1 US Concern)

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