Chinese Nationals Pose as Tourists to Gain Access to US Military Sites

( – The Department of Defense and the FBI say they are aware of over 100 attempts by Chinese nationals to access sensitive sites disguised as tourists. Examples include scuba divers swimming near a government rocket launch site in Florida and “tourists” crossing into a missile range in New Mexico. Officials believe China is compelling its citizens to test security measures.

It is unknown how many such attempts were genuine spying efforts and how many were errors. Some Chinese nationals have turned up to military bases saying they were directed there by Google Maps, while another claimed to have reservations at a hotel at Fort Wainwright base in Alaska. US officials say the alleged spies respond to questioning with scripted language, claiming to be lost visitors – even in rural areas where tourism is uncommon or in regions far away from an international airport.

The FBI, the DoD, and other federal agencies carried out a review last year and devised plans to counteract the alleged espionage. In February 2022, FBI Director Christopher Wray said he was “blown away” by the high number of incidents when he became director in 2017. He reported that the agency initiates two investigations every day to counter the threat.

“There is no country that presents a broader, more severe threat to our innovation, our ideas, and our economic security than China does,” Wray said.

China and America have accused each other of spying for years. The issue was exacerbated earlier this year when the US shot down a balloon that was believed to be an aerial spying device. In late February, residents of Montana spotted the contraption, and it managed to travel to South Carolina before being destroyed almost a week later.

Lawmakers criticized President Biden for allowing it to cross so much American land unimpeded, but Biden said, “It’s not a major breach” and defended the decision to leave it in the air until the military could bring it down over water.

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