The Pentagon recently announced that it tracked approximately 100 cases in which Chinese nationals attempted to enter American military and other installations over the last several years, sparking concern about national security and possible efforts by Beijing to spy on the United States.
The incidents appear to follow a similar track, with individuals attempting to enter into the sensitive American facilities without authorization. Officials cited cases in which the breaches included incidents at a missile range in New Mexico and individuals scuba diving near a rocket site in Florida.
In other cases, individuals claimed that Google Maps routed them to the facility and asked for directions to a restaurant. In another case, a number of Chinese nationals attempted to enter without permission at Fort Wainright, Alaska, claiming that they had a reservation at a hotel on base.
"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." U.S. officials say the potential espionage incidents "appear designed to test security practices." https://t.co/WJgkQRRoY9
— Ajit Pai (@AjitPai) September 4, 2023
American defense and law enforcement officials describe the efforts as espionage.
The United States believes that the incidents are intended to test the security of the facilities, sparking comparisons to the Chinese balloon that transited the United States earlier this year. Such efforts may also indicate a wider effort by Beijing to collect information about a number of American governmental and defense locations.
It also follows the arrest of two American sailors who allegedly spied for the Chinese government.
So far, Washington has been relatively quiet on the incidents at the facilities.
“The Chinese government is engaged in a broad, diverse campaign of theft and malign influence without regard to laws or international norms that the FBI will not tolerate,” said a statement from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Despite the possible surveillance nature of the effort, the Chinese government challenged the American assertions, calling them “purely ill-intentioned fabrications.”
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said that the country urged “the relevant U.S. officials to abandon the Cold War mentality, stop groundless accusations and do more things that are conducive to enhancing mutual trust between the two countries and friendship between the two peoples.”
Congress is currently considering legislation regarding the incidents, citing the fact that federal law does not cover the legal ramifications of the events in all circumstances.