Chinese Citizen Arrested By FBI For Spying On U.S.

A case that highlights the nexus between immigration and espionage.

On September 25, 2018 the Justice Department issued a press release, Chinese National Arrested for Allegedly Acting Within the United States as an Illegal Agent of the People’s Republic of China.

That Chinese national was identified as Ji Chaoqun, a 27 year old Chinese citizen who had been residing in Chicago was arrested by the FBI for allegedly acting as an illegal agent of the Chinese government.

The Criminal Complaint provided in the press release provides additional information, but this excerpt from the press release lays out the Justice Department’s allegations concerning Chaoqun:

Ji worked at the direction of a high-level intelligence officer in the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security, a provincial department of the Ministry of State Security for the People’s Republic of China, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Ji was tasked with providing the intelligence officer with biographical information on eight individuals for possible recruitment by the JSSD, the complaint states. The individuals included Chinese nationals who were working as engineers and scientists in the United States, some of whom were U.S. defense contractors, according to the complaint.

According to the complaint, Ji was born in China and arrived in the United States in 2013 on an F1 Visa, for the purpose of studying electrical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. In 2016, Ji enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves as an E4 Specialist under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program, which authorizes the U.S. Armed Forces to recruit certain legal aliens whose skills are considered vital to the national interest. In his application to participate in the MAVNI program, Ji specifically denied having had contact with a foreign government within the past seven years, the complaint states. In a subsequent interview with a U.S. Army officer, Ji again failed to disclose his relationship and contacts with the intelligence officer, the charge alleges.

I have written several articles and commentaries about my concerns that while China has acted as an adversary of the United States last year more than 150,000 Chinese students were admitted into the United States to study the STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics) curricula.

China is on a rampage, developing large numbers of warships and military aircraft that often bear a strong resemblance to U.S. planes, ships and other such military assets.

China has constructed and militarized artificial islands in the South China Sea and has threatened military action if ship or aircraft of the U.S. or any other county gets too close. flexing its growing military muscles.

In some instances China has been able to enhance its military capability through the  acquisition of our military technology through espionage while at the same time, our best universities are providing these students with first-rate educations.

Once enrolled in school in the United States foreign students are entitled to accept employment to attain practical training.  All too often this displaces American workers and also provides opportunities for those students.

The Chinese government and entities within the Chinese military hack into American computers as frequently as humming birds beat their wings.  They hack into private computers, corporate computers, military compute networks.  However, America trains Chinese programmers.

The growing presence of Chinese students and Chinese influence on U.S. college campuses and elsewhere in the United States was the focus of my August 21, 2018 article, China Ratchets Up Its U.S. Spying Programs.

As I noted in that article, frustration with this situation has caused some U.S. security experts to refer to this wholesale espionage by China against the United States as “Chinese Takeout.”

The next element of this unfolding case involves Mr. Chaoqun being able to enlist in the U.S. military under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program that was described above.

This gets us back to the nonsense that we frequently hear from politicians from both political parties, that somehow it makes sense to permit illegal aliens to enlist in the military to then qualify for a pathway to U.S. citizenship.

Awhile back a common quote stated that “All roads lead to Rome.”  Today, where “solutions” to the immigration crisis is concerned, you might say that “All roads lead to a pathway to U.S. citizenship (or at least lawful status).”

This is as absurd and naive as it gets!

Chaoqun entered the U.S. legally as a student.  His ability to join the US. military facilitated his goal of attempting to recruit spies for China.  It must be presumed that he was vetted before he was able to join the MAVNI program, however the vetting process must be carefully reviewed to find out if his alleged connections with Chinese espionage could have been determined before he was able to join the U.S. military.

Military bases are among the most sensitive locations in the United States.  Those bases contain weapons, highly classified materials and members of the U.S. armed forces.

It is dangerous to provide foreign nationals with access to our military bases, when we are unable to effectively vet those foreign nationals.

Our political leaders who are often clueless about the how background investigations are conducted often refer to such investigations as “Background Checks.”

A “Background Check” is superficial and often only requires that a name an fingerprints are run through databases to search for known information.  This process takes just minutes and if the person assumes a false identity and his/her fingerprints are not known to that system, the system will essentially give that individual a clean “bill of health.”

Background investigations, on the other hand, are far more comprehensive and complete.  They are time consuming and require investigations be conducted the old fashioned way, by interviewing many people, showing photographs and checking myriad databases.  If those interviewed, for example claim that the person being investigated has use alternate identities, or other such major discrepancies are uncovered, then those new leads must be run down to gain a total picture. 

Simply running names and fingerprints are nearly worthless and not likely to uncover fraud.  These concerns were the predication for an extensive article and a booklet I wrote under the common title, Immigration Fraud, Lies That Kill.

The immigration system, and the system by which visas applications are adjudicated are so overwhelmed that it is easy for a bad actor to slip through the cracks.

It is extremely fortunate that in the case that predicates my article today, that Chaoqun’s alleged nefarious actions were discovered.  However, he is hardly the only foreign national who is engaged in such activities.  Just as only a tiny percentage of motorists who speed ever get caught, it must be presumed that while some spies are caught, others are not caught and they can do truly irreparable damage to U.S. national security.

In point of fact, because this is apparently such a common practice that China refers to its efforts to spy on the United States as employing the principle of “A thousand grains of sand.”  Under this principle there are so many individuals who engage in this sort of espionage that all that each one needs to do is send back to China a very few parts to the puzzle where military aircraft, ships, weaponry or other sensitive information is concerned.  Once all of the pieces of the puzzles are in China it is relatively easy for them to create a mosaic to gain the entire picture by connecting each “grain of sand.”

As we can clearly see, the policies of the Trump administration to finally address the economic conflict between the United States and China represents the tip of a huge iceberg.  This economic conflict served as the predication for my article, Fears About Chinese “Trade War” Are Late And Dumb.  As I noted in that article, China has been waging economic war against the U.S. for decades.

Hope is not a strategy.  The United States must move swiftly to protect its security and the security of its citizens from all threats. 

America’s borders are its first line of defense and last line of defense.

President Trump’s welcome calls for national sovereignty sum up that which would be in the best interests of America and Americans in this dangerous and turbulent era.