US intelligence agencies determined that several years ago China stole secrets relating to the F-35 jet fighter from a US contractor. The design secrets were detected in China’s new J-20 stealth fighter and the J-31.
The stolen secrets included details of the F-35’s electro-optical targeting system, radar-absorbing coatings and engine nozzles.
Taiwan remains a major spying target of China and, since 2002, 56 Chinese agents have been arrested there after being caught obtaining sensitive information, including about US technology shared with Taipei.
“In recent years, Chinese agents have extracted data on some of the most advanced weapons and weapons systems in the US arsenal, such as jet fighters and unmanned submersible vehicles,” states the annual report of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, released on November 16.
The United States faces a large and growing threat to its national security from Chinese intelligence collection operations. Among the most serious threats are China’s efforts at cyber and human infiltration of U.S. national security organizations. These operations are not a recent phenomenon, but reports of Chinese espionage against the United States have risen significantly over the past 15 years. The threat from Chinese intelligence operations also extends overseas.
For example, China’s growing technical intelligence * collection capabilities are increasing its ability to monitor deployed U.S. military forces. Moreover, by infiltrating and attempting to infiltrate defense entities in U.S. ally and partner countries, China could affect U.S. alliance stability and indirectly extract sensitive U.S. national defense information. Meanwhile, the national security implications of Chinese intelligence collection operations have grown amid U.S.-China competition and Beijing’s expanding military might.
Chinese intelligence threat is increasing as China reforms and centralizes its intelligence apparatus and gains experience conducting spying operations. China is also improving its human spy service.
The military spy agencies were the subject of a major reform effort in late 2015 that moved them from the General Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army to a new military service-level group called the Strategic Support Force.
U.S. Defense Industrial Entities
China’s intelligence collection operations targeting U.S. defense industrial entities and its acquisition of sensitive defense technology could undermine U.S. military superiority by accelerating China’s military modernization and giving China insight into the capabilities and operation of U.S. weapons and weapons systems.
Some spies were caught but there are more spies and operatives across the defense agencies, companies, contractors of the US and its allies.
• In June 2016, Wenxia “Wency” Man, a Chinese-born naturalized U.S. citizen, was convicted of conspiring with an agent in China to illegally export to China the MQ–9 Reaper/Predator B unmanned aerial vehicle, as well as engines used in the F–35, F–22, and F–16 jet fighters and technical data associated with these platforms.
• In June 2016, Amin “Amy” Yu, a Chinese national and permanent resident of the United States, pleaded guilty to illegally acting as an agent of the Chinese government. Ms. Yu illegally exported commercial technology used in marine submersible vehicles * to conspirators at China’s Harbin Engineering University, a research institute that supports PLA Navy military modernization.
• In March 2016, Su Bin, a Chinese national, pleaded guilty to conspiring from 2008 to 2014 to steal U.S. military technical data, including data on the Boeing C–17 Globemaster military transport aircraft and jet fi ghter aircraft, and export this information to China. Some of Mr. Su’s co-conspirators were members of the PLA Air Force.