The recent shootdown of a Chinese spy balloon is just one portion of a much larger effort by Beijing to spy on the United States. The balloon received appropriate attention, but many in Washington have yet to realize the entirety of the Chinese spying apparatus.
The Chinese Communist Party has engaged in regular spying on the United States and its allies for years and has become increasingly bold.
The recent attention given to the Chinese spy balloon represents just a small sliver of Beijing’s efforts against American interests.
China has a number of traditional spying operations, including sending double agents to spy on American officials. One of the most high-profile efforts centered around the spy Fang Fang, who famously entangled future Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA).
However, China also plays an ever-larger role in the American economy, especially due to its production of a number of electronics. In particular, there is considerable concern that China is collecting data from these electronics. Chinese-manufactured Roombas have been caught taking photos of people in their homes, including on the toilet.
A 2018 report showed that Chinese hackers collected thousands of gigabytes of data from the United States.
There were more than 1,200 cases of intellectual property theft that led to litigation by the United States, as well as 160 cases of spying reported publicly.
Many of these efforts stole or attempted to steal American military and commercial technology. In particular, the report cited that Chinese spying increased dramatically after the election of President Barack Obama.
In particular, Chinese hackers seized data on almost a million American postal service employees and stole health data on almost 80 million Americans. Many states and public officials are particularly concerned by Chinese control over TikTok.
From stealing our intellectual property and spying on our children through TikTok to buying up American farmland and engaging in unfair trade practices that undercut Alabama steel makers and shrimpers, we must hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable.https://t.co/252kMY5rUn
— Senator Katie Boyd Britt (@SenKatieBritt) February 24, 2023
Beijing is also considering whether or not to send much-needed artillery shells to aid the Russian war effort in Ukraine. This was met by a diplomatic warning from Washington. The Biden White House described such a move to supply 122 mm and 152 mm artillery ammunition as a potential “game changer.”
The Chinese government responded in force, stating that it was not the position of the United States to dictate the policy of Beijing.
A Chinese foreign affairs official stated that it is the “U.S., not China, that has been pouring weapons onto the battlefield.” The Chinese official then said that his government called for the United States to “seriously reflect on the role it has played” and to “help deescalate the situation and promote peace talks.”