This news analysis was originally dispatched as part of Epoch Times China email newsletters. Subscribe to the newsletters by filling your email in the “China D-brief” box under this article.
There have been four cases of Chinese espionage against the United States in just the last three weeks. These haven’t been the run-of-the-mill cyberspies either; these are Cold War-style cases of individuals allegedly caught spying on behalf of a communist regime.
Three of the cases involved people trying to steal nuclear technology. Another involved the theft of cutting-edge technology for unmanned submarines.
The first case garnered the most attention. On April 8, the U.S. military held the first hearing on the case of Lt. Cmdr. Edward Chieh-Liang Lin. The U.S. military officer and Taiwanese immigrant served as a “nuclear-trained enlisted sailor” and as a signals intelligence expert, and was allegedly spying on behalf of Taiwan and Mainland China.
Just five days later, a Chinese citizen, Fuyi “Frank” Sun, 52, was arrested in New York for trying to obtain sensitive carbon fiber used in nuclear centrifuges. Sun allegedly told undercover agents he worked for the Chinese regime’s missile program and had close ties to the Chinese military.
The next day, on April 14, another individual was indicted, alongside a Chinese state-owned nuclear power company, in a conspiracy case in Tennessee. Szuhsiung “Allen” Ho was allegedly acting on behalf of the state-run company to illegally transfer nuclear materials to China.
Then, just seven days later on April 21, Amin Yu, 53, was charged in Florida for “acting as an illegal agent” for China and trying to steal sensitive technology, including for unmanned underwater vehicles.
If the tables were turned, and four American spies were caught spying on another country—especially if it were in the course of a few weeks—it would be an international scandal. But with China, the world seems to have gotten somewhat desensitized to its brazen use of espionage.
In fact, only two of the cases were broadly covered by U.S. news outlets.
The unfortunate fact is that there are so many cases of Chinese espionage against the United States—both using cyberattacks and human spies—that they’ve begun to blend in with each other.
Chinese espionage has become the “dog bites man” story, where cases are so common that they’ve lost their shock value. People are no longer surprised by the cases, and so many news outlets seem to gloss over them.
But the importance of these cases is no less significant than it was during the Cold War, and the frequency of spy cases coming out of China isn’t a whole lot different.
The fact is that while China’s use of cyberattacks for espionage has taken center stage, it also has a very large system for conventional espionage—and its spies on both ends will often work together.
The Chinese military’s two main departments for this type of espionage are overseen by its General Staff Department. The cyberattacks are run under its Third Department, which handles signals intelligence (SIGINT); while its human intelligence (HUMINT) operations are carried out by its Second Department.
Epoch Times reported previously that the Chinese regime has between 250,000 and 300,000 soldiers under its Third Department dedicated to cyberespionage. Its Second Department has between 30,000 and 50,000 human spies working on insider operations.
The Chinese military also runs more than 3,200 military front companies in the United States, which are dedicated to theft. The information was revealed by the FBI’s former deputy director for counterintelligence, in a 2010 report from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
MORE:Murder, Money, and Spies Investigative Series
With these numbers in mind, it’s important to point out that even though cases of Chinese espionage (both SIGINT and HUMINT) are regularly exposed, the cases brought to light are just a drop in the ocean compared to the broader picture of what’s taking place.
There is also a lot of overlap between China’s use of cyberattacks and human spies. Sources told Epoch Times in a previous interview that Chinese cyberspies will even at times launch cyberattacks to cover the tracks of spies working as insiders in U.S. businesses and government agencies.
The rationale of using human intelligence operatives was explained well in a previous interview with Jarrett Kolthoff, president of cyber counterintelligence company SpearTip and a former special agent in U.S. Army counterintelligence.
Kolthoff told Epoch Times that Chinese spies are interested in “quantity first, quality second,” and often grab everything they can. He said they look for whatever approach is most effective for reaching this goal, and they “determine that it’s much easier to obtain the information through a rogue insider, or a trusted insider who is working for someone else.”
He said that while the human spy is at work, cyberspies will then launch attacks as a ruse, and this makes it appear the information was stolen through a cyberattack instead of an insider. This prevents the company or agency from searching for the insider spy, and Kolthoff noted “it’s very, very effective.”

Read the full article here

A Chinese citizen claiming to work on China’s missile programs was arrested in New York on April 13 for his alleged part in a scheme to obtain sensitive carbon fiber and sell it to the Chinese military.
This marks the second Chinese espionage case in the United States in the past week—following the case of a U.S. Navy officer accused of spying on the U.S. military for China.
The latest alleged spy is Fuyi “Frank” Sun, 52, who “allegedly attempted to procure high grade carbon fiber for a source he repeatedly identified as the Chinese military,” said Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin, in an April 14 press release.
Sun allegedly claimed to have worked personally in the Chinese regime’s missile program and “asserted that he maintained a close relationship with the Chinese military,” according to the release.
Sun also claimed to have a “sophisticated understanding of the Chinese military’s need for carbon fiber,” and “suggested” he would supply the material to the Chinese military or “institutions closely associated with it.”
Carlin said the carbon fiber has many uses in aerospace and defense, and is strictly controlled from export.
Sun has allegedly attempted for years to acquire the high-grade carbon fiber and illegally export it to China, said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, in the press release
Early on the week of his arrest Sun traveled from China to New York to finalize a deal to obtain the sensitive materials, Bharara said, but the men he met with turned out to be undercover U.S. agents.
“Sun allegedly told undercover agents that the carbon fiber he sought was headed for the Chinese military, and then paid tens of thousands of dollars in cash to purchase two cases of it,” Bharara said.
Sun also allegedly told the undercover agents to ship the material in unmarked boxes and to falsify the shipping documents so the shipment would slip past law enforcement.
The press release says that Sun had been trying to get his hands on sensitive carbon fiber since around 2011.
MORE:Navy Officer Who Allegedly Spied for China Had Nuclear Training
It states that he met with undercover agents around April 11 and 12, and “repeatedly suggested that the Chinese military was the ultimate end-user for the M60 Carbon Fiber he sought to acquire.”
The carbon fiber would fall under the category of “new materials,” which the Chinese Communist Party has identified as a priority to steal from other nations under its Project 863 program.
Sun faces up to 20 years in prison for attempting to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and conspiracy to violate it. He also faces up to 10 years in prison for trying to smuggle goods from the United States.

Read the full article here

A naval officer who flew some of America’s most secretive aircraft, and who attended U.S. Navy nuclear training schools, has been accused of spying on the U.S. military on behalf of China and Taiwan.
Lt. Cmdr. Edward Chieh-Liang Lin, who emigrated to the United States from Taiwan, is now being held in a Navy brig in Virginia, according to U.S. Naval Institute News (USNI News).
It reports that Lin served as a “nuclear-trained enlisted sailor,” and as a “signals intelligence expert on the Navy’s sensitive EP-3E Aries II surveillance aircraft.”
According to the complaint, Lin’s charges include two cases of espionage, three cases of attempted espionage, five cases of communicating defense information, one count of patronizing prostitutes, one case of violating general order, and one case of adultery (which violates military law).
The complaint is heavily redacted, and details on the case are still somewhat slim, but USNI News was able to gain more information on the case from unnamed sources and open source military reports.
An unnamed U.S. official with information on the case told USNI News that in addition to allegedly passing secret military information to the People’s Republic of China, Lin also allegedly passed information to Taiwan.
The situation should become more clear as the trial starts. As USNI News notes, it’s not uncommon for U.S. allies, such as Taiwan and even Israel, to spy on the United States, but it is not common for an individual to spy on the United States on behalf of two governments—and this is likely even more so with Taiwan and Mainland China, which don’t exactly get along.
MORE:CHINA SECURITY: Vladimir Putin May be Dating a Chinese Spy
Although news of Lin’s case is only now being widely reported, he has allegedly been in pre-trial confinement for close to eight months as he awaits trial. His Article 32 hearing (similar to a preliminary hearing in civilian courts) under the United States Uniform Code of Military Justice was held on April 8.
It has allegedly been designated a “National Security Case,” and USNI News notes “The cases are tried under an additional set of rules than normal courts-martial due to the sensitivity of the evidence involved in the proceedings.”
Lin’s case is currently in the hands of U.S. Fleet Forces commander Adm. Phil Davidson, according to USNI News, who will decide if it will proceed to a court martial (a military trial).

Read the full article here