DANIEL VAUGHAN: Chinese "Tourists" Spy on America under Biden's Nose

 September 4, 2023

Every few weeks or months, we get treated to a new revelation of espionage efforts by the Chinese government. This year alone, we've had the Chinese spy balloon, possible Chinese espionage at U.S. docks, and China building a spy base in Cuba. This week, we learned that China is using Chinese nationals to test security, take pictures, and get intelligence on military locations on U.S. soil. It's not a small number, either. U.S. security has seen as many as 100 incidents of Chinese nationals spying in the U.S.

I have little doubt that the United States is spying equally on the Chinese government, or rather, I hope we are. But to an average American sitting here, there's a noticeable increase in outright attempts to spy on the United States on American soil by China. The Chinese Communist Party is making it clear to everyone that they can spy anywhere on U.S. soil, with little blowback from the U.S. government.

The Wall Street Journal reports, "Chinese nationals, sometimes posing as tourists, have accessed military bases and other sensitive sites in the U.S. as many as 100 times in recent years." The Journal added, "The incidents, which U.S. officials describe as a form of espionage, appear designed to test security practices at U.S. military installations and other federal sites."

The WSJ quotes officials from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies naming these "gatecrasher" events. It involves "attempts—either by accident or intentionally—to get onto U.S. military bases and other installations without proper authorization."

These events are flagged because these Chinese nationals all use a similar strategy. Officials described individuals using "what appears to be scripted language when confronted by security guards, according to officials familiar with the tactics. When stopped, the Chinese nationals say they are tourists and have lost their way."

These events go beyond challenging guards, however. These Chinese nationals also use drone technology:

There are repeated cases in which Chinese nationals have been found taking pictures at a U.S. Army range, according to people familiar with the matter. They often start off at nearby White Sands National Park, where visitors like to barrel down the sand dunes on rented slides, but then leave that area and cross into the adjacent missile site, the officials said. In some cases, the individuals have used drones to bolster their surveillance efforts.

There are separate incidents involving Chinese nationals scuba diving and taking pictures near military and NASA sites. Other incidents are far from tourist sites, where these Chinese citizens travel to remote military airports trying to get on base.

Government officials tried to make it sound like the Chinese government was forcing people into this, saying, " Officials familiar with the practice say the individuals are typically Chinese nationals pressed into service and required to report back to the Chinese government."

But at the same time, a Chinese woman was arrested in 2019 for entering Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort illegally. She had stayed at the hotel like any other person but tried to gain access to secured portions of the property. She was found with "two passports, four cellphones," and "$8,000 in U.S. and Chinese currency and a cache of electronic devices." Those devices included a "device that can detect hidden cameras, nine USB drives and five SIM cards in her room, among other piece of equipment."

She tried to call herself a tourist who visited the exhibit of Charles Lee. No one believed that excuse, and it's hard to buy the "tourist" excuses from anyone involved in these other "gatecrasher" events.

Ultimately, this involves the United States' national security, and the buck stops with the man charged with that: President Joe Biden. We witnessed very little pushback from him on the spy balloon in the winter, and the White House brushed off the notion of a Chinese spy base in Cuba, saying it'd been there for a while. These political narrative arguments ignore the problem that China is flooding the U.S. with possible espionage opportunities.

When you combine these gatecrasher events with other cyber and space warfare espionage, China is clearly pressing every advantage it can get to spy on the United States. When discussing border security, we often think of the southern border. But Chinese nationals roaming freely in the United States, and either being pressed into service by the CCP or freely jumping into that effort, is a breach of border security.

The United States needs a President who takes border and national security seriously in all its forms. There's little evidence this is happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. U.S. national security isn't a partisan issue, and it should be a no-brainer to promote U.S. national security interests. Yet, we're all still waiting for the President to take Chinese espionage seriously. How many more "new revelations" do we have to get for the White House to wake up?

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