Science, espionage and paranoia in US-China relations
A smartly dressed Chinese man was spotted in a field in rural Iowa, in the United States, in autumn 2011. This was enough to raise suspicion in a community that was 97% white and the local police went to check it out. Thus began perhaps one of the stranger cases of industrial espionage in recent years, one that highlights the threat of industrial theft and the overblown atmosphere of fear and mistrust that exists between the United States and China over intellectual property and trade. The field in question was planted with genetically modified seed lines developed by agricultural giant Monsanto, a company that guards its intellectual property – like hybrid seeds and fertilizer – with great
Chinese military personnel charged for massive Equifax hack
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged four members of the Chinese military over a 2017 hacking into one of America’s largest credit reporting agencies and stealing the personal data of around half of all US citizens. The alleged hack of Atlanta-headquartered Equifax also allowed the hackers, determined by the DOJ to be members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), to obtain trade secrets related to the company’s database designs. “This was an organized and remarkably brazen criminal heist of sensitive information of nearly half of all Americans,” US General Attorney William Barr, unveiling the nine-count indictment, said on Monday. The four individuals alleged to have committed th
Top Chinese spying agency embroiled in German probe
China's top intelligence agency has been embroiled in a German probe into a former ambassador of the European Union who was accused of spying for China. Police raided nine addresses in Berlin and Brussels, as well as the German states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, on Wednesday. The authorities were targeting the ex-ambassador, who was not named, and two other people. The news was first reported by Der Spiegel magazine, which says that two of the addresses in question were linked to people who provided private and business information to the Chinese Ministry of State Security, the country’s top counter-intelligence and foreign intelligence unit. The case is the first in recent years invol
Explosive claims of ‘Chinese spy’ seem more fiction than fact
At a time when China is being systematically portrayed as a bogeyman trying to take over Australia’s political system, the emergence in October of a self-proclaimed Chinese spy claiming to have a trove of insider secrets to spill about China’s intelligence operations should have been a dream come true for Canberra’s top spooks. But instead of putting Wang Liqiang in a secure location for a thorough debriefing which could take months, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation apparently took a back seat and allowed some enthusiastic journalists to lead the investigation on what has been billed as the most significant spy defection since 1954, when a Russian KGB officer sought politica
The FBI director taking aim at China
“Vulgar,” “arrogant,” a “low-life.” Ask Chinese state media for an assessment of FBI director Christopher Wray, and the response will be less than flattering. Wray’s scathing critique last week of what he called China’s attempts to “steal its way up the economic ladder” at the United States’ expense quickly drew fire from nationalist voices across the Pacific. An editorial by the reliably provocative Global Times, which is published by China’s Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, led the charge. Wray’s accusation, made at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington on April 26, displayed an “undisguised contempt for the whole of Chinese society” and threatened to lead US understandi
Ex-CIA officer says he spied for China
A former US intelligence officer pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges of conspiring to deliver top-secret national defense information to China and unlawful retention of classified information. Jerry Chun Shing Lee was expected to go to trial in federal court this week in Alexandria, Virginia, but a hearing to change his plea was held before US District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who could sentence Lee to a maximum penalty of life in prison. “I conspired to gather and send secret-level information to the government of the PRC,” Lee told Ellis at the end of Wednesday’s hearing, using the initials for the People’s Republic of China. Lee acknowledged lying to officials of the Central Intelligence
The Chinese woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago had a hidden-camera detector
A woman arrested at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort had a hidden-camera detector and a thumb drive capable of planting malware on a target computer, prosecutors said. The finding, revealed at a bail hearing at West Palm Beach, Florida on Monday, has deepened the mystery surrounding Chinese national Yujing Zhang, who has been accused of lying her way into the Florida resort, where Trump has hosted multiple foreign leaders. US lawmakers have raised questions over whether Trump and his private resort have become a target for Chinese intelligence operations, and whether the Secret Service is competent enough to fend off espionage attempts. “The public and Congress need to know the extent to
US army reservist accused of spying for China
A Chinese national who enlisted in the US Army Reserve has been arrested in Chicago for allegedly gathering information on American engineers and scientists for Chinese intelligence. Ji Chaoqun, 27, was charged on Tuesday with one count of knowingly acting as an agent of a foreign government. He faces up to 10 years in jail. According to legal papers released by the Department of Justice, Ji purchased and sent the contents of background checks on eight naturalized American engineers and scientists to China’s Ministry of Security. While the information was obtained legally, the act of passing it on to a foreign government is not. All eight Americans had been identified for possible recruitme