FBI cracks down on Chinas elusive army of amateur spies

Makes you wonder how many chinese spys are in the UK, and how actively the yanks are carrying out industrial espionage in China.

The FBI is deploying hundreds of new agents across America to crack down on spying by a small army of Chinese agents who are stealing information designed to kick-start high-tech military and business programmes.

The new counter-intelligence strategy reflects growing alarm at the damage being done by spies hidden among the 700,000 Chinese visitors entering the US each year.

"China is the biggest [espionage] threat to the US today," David Szady, the assistant director of the FBI's counter-intelligence division, told the Wall Street Journal.

Officers said the campaign to close down China's wide-ranging espionage effort was now one of the major intelligence priorities after the struggle against terrorism.

But while the espionage effort resembles that against the threat from communist Russia, it has been made far more difficult by the sheer number of Chinese nationals in the US and by linguistic and cultural differences that help insulate Chinese agents from detection.

One of the biggest problems confronting American counter-intelligence officers is the diffuse nature of the threat; espionage is generally carried out by amateur agents working for Chinese intelligence and for the country's burgeoning business sector.

T Van Magers, the FBI official in charge of the agency's Chinese programme until 2002, said: "The persons who collect intelligence are often not traditionally trained spies." Many are simply told to send back to China anything they deem to be of interest, he told the television channel PBS, largely neutralising the old Cold War technique of tracking a foreign espionage agent to uncover an operation.

The FBI estimates that more than 3,000 "front companies" have been established by Chinese nationals in the US specifically to purloin military and economic secrets illegally.

"They can work on so many levels that China may prove more difficult to contain than the Russian threat," said Mr Szady, a veteran of the FBI's shadow war with the KGB.

According to Mr Magers, the system used by Chinese spies is sophisticated and effective. Beijing appears to be willing to "send a lot of sources out to get small bits of information, and then to reassemble it back in China".

The new emphasis on China is driven in part by a fear that the US may have over-emphasised the threat from terrorists at the expense of monitoring a possible threat from a fast-developing China.
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Now this really is a toughie, because the Chinese industrial spies all look soooo "American", unlike the Israeli, British, Russian etc, industrial spies.

In the competition "Who-can-we-target-next-to-keep-the-punters-guessing" the Chinese have won!

Coming soon to a UK Chinese quarter near you!

I think a lot of the problem, especially in years to come, will be the number of chinese nationals who have studied in British and American universities. The number studying high tech courses alongside British nationals has allowed them to gain a place of trust within the society, "Oh that's just some bloke I went to uni with...".

People might not mean to give away privileged information, and its not so much of a problem in the Forces as they're unlikely , but most Civvies (I'm not including MOD Civil Servants here because they should know what they're about) working on sensitive info (and that might not necessarily mean classified) would not have procedures in place to sanitize an office if an old uni mate,who probably works in a similar field anyway, pops into the office to catch up.

Who knows, we'll probably all be friends in 5 years anyway :? but IMHO I think its only going to get worse.
Another major problem is the massive underground Chinese community. A mate of mine runs accomodation for asylum seekers and other DSS concerns, and had a mass group of Chinese shipped over from the nearest port while being processed. They turned up at around 23:00, but by 2am their mates turned up with a bus and they were gone never to be seen again - pretty well connected asylum seekers eh? This happens every day accross the country - despicable anyway but I wonder how many might be agents?

<TA_s is off to have fun turning mate into paranoid wreck>
empty_vessel said:
I think a lot of the problem, especially in years to come, will be the number of chinese nationals who have studied in British and American universities.
Thirty percent of students at Portsmouth Polyversity come from Chinese backgrounds. That is according to the two chinese students (Albert & John - anglicised version of their names) who work in my department. I should add that one of them also works in B & Q in addition to his studying. Top marks for effort Albert.

Add the (unknown but substantial by my observation) percentages from other countries and well over half the students are foreigners. Interestingly, Portsmouth is below average in mainstream primary and secondary education.

In terms of espionage, Portsmouth was probably once a target but nowadays the cctv network is probably the highest bit of tech on the island. :)


Maybe those chinese fella's who drowned up near Barrow in Furness were spying on submarines.

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