U.S. officials have recorded up to 100 instances of Chinese nationals—who identified as tourists—entering American military bases and other secured facilities, the Wall Street Journal reported, raising concerns about likely efforts by China to spy on sensitive military information.
According to the Journal, the Pentagon, FBI and other agencies conducted a review of the intrusions caused by the so-called “gate-crashers” in an effort to limit such trespassing.
Examples of the gate crashing included instances of Chinese nationals crossing into a missile range in New Mexico and scuba divers swimming near a rocket launch site in Florida.
While some incidents involved people following Google Maps directions to a McDonald’s or Burger King located on military bases, other more serious instances include a group of Chinese nationals trying to push past guards at an army base in Alaska, claiming they had reservations at a hotel on the base.
U.S. officials believe these intrusions are an effort to gauge the security practices at these sensitive sites, and the gate-crashers report back what they learn to the Chinese government, the report added.
Some of these incidents have taken place in rural parts of the country—areas not recognized as tourist hot spots and located far away from major airports—which the officials believe lends credence to the belief that the gate-crashers were unlikely to be tourists.
Reports of the intrusions come as tensions between the U.S. and China remain high, as each country has accused the other of spying. Earlier this year, U.S. fighter jets shot down a 200-foot-tall balloon near the coast of South Carolina after it flew over Alaska and the U.S. mainland. U.S. officials have said the balloon was designed to spy on sensitive U.S. facilities, an allegation that was strongly refuted by China. Last month, China’s state security ministry announced the arrest of a Chinese national for allegedly spying on behalf of the CIA. The 52-year-old was identified as an employee of a military-industrial company and had access to classified information. The arrest came a week after American authorities arrested two U.S. Navy sailors for “transmitting sensitive military information” to China.
Chinese Gate-Crashers at U.S. Bases Spark Espionage Concerns (Wall Street Journal)
Beijing Arrests Chinese National For Allegedly Spying For The CIA (Forbes)