Recent Incidents Intensify Worries of Chinese Espionage in the United States

Recent Incidents Intensify Worries of Chinese Espionage in the United States

Recent revelations that China-based hackers may have penetrated U.S. computer networks -- including those operated by the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security as well as by major U.S. defense firms -- has heightened concerns about Chinese spying in the United States. Computer experts believe that the extensive scale of the information operations means they probably involved, to some degree, the Chinese military or intelligence services.

Although U.S. authorities remain concerned by the espionage operations conducted in the United States by Russia, Iran, and Cuba, they consider Chinese spying the most serious in terms of size. The sheer number of people of Chinese origin in the United States -- including immigrants, tourists, and students -- gives Chinese intelligence collectors tremendous opportunities to gather information within the United States.

When testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in July 2007, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III called Chinese intelligence activities a "substantial concern" because "China is stealing our secrets in an effort to leap ahead in terms of its military technology, but also the economic capability of China." The following month, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell warned that Chinese and Russian espionage activities on U.S. territory had returned to Cold War levels. Joel Brenner, national counterintelligence executive, has characterized the Chinese espionage effort in the United States as "a full-court press."

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