by Zach Dorfman @Politico
…there’s a full-on epidemic of espionage on the West Coast right now. And even more worrisome, many of its targets are unprepared to deal with the growing threat.
The open, experimental, cosmopolitan work and business culture of Silicon Valley in particular has encouraged a newer, “softer,” “nontraditional” type of espionage, said former intelligence officials—efforts that mostly target trade secrets and technology.
many foreign intel “collectors” in the Bay Area are not spies in the traditional sense of the term. They aren’t based out of embassies or consulates, and may be associated with a state-owned business or research institute rather than an intelligence agency.
Chinese officials, in particular, often cajole or outright threaten Chinese nationals (or U.S. citizens with family members in China) working or studying locally to provide them with valuable technological information.
“You get into situations where you have really good, really bright, conscientious people, twisted by their home government,” said a chief security officer at a major cloud storage company that maintains sensitive government contracts.
加州的情報工作對中國非常重要，它和華盛頓特區是唯二中國國家安全部 (MSS) 獨立設立情報部門的美國行政區。
中國在加州的情報工作一般非常低調，少見的例外是 2008 年奧運經過舊金山的聖火傳遞，中國爲了避免任何抗議活動影響了國家形象，從國內送去了一批國家安全部和公安局的官員，在活動經過的路線上監視抗議團體的活動。他們甚至利用威脅取消國家資助的手段，從加州各地運來了數千名拿 J-1 交流簽證的學生，去阻止法輪功、西藏、維吾爾、或支持民主的抗議活動。中國的官員甚至在光天化日下帶着耳機在現場指揮學生。
Most brazenly, said former intelligence agents, Chinese officials bussed in 6,000-8,000 J-Visa holding students—threatening them with the loss of Chinese government funding—from across California to disrupt Falun Gong, Tibetan, Uighur and pro-democracy protesters.
美國情報官員非常不高興，認爲這是在美國領土上公然壓制美國憲法第一修正案保障的言論自由，但是因爲 FBI 和國務院的意見分歧而沒有阻止這些行爲。但美國將情報轉交了澳洲盟友，在聖火傳遞的下一站堪培拉澳洲政府就拒絕了數名在中國情報官員入境。
“We got pissed off,” said the same former intelligence official, because the Chinese “were interfering with the free expression of opinion” at the torch relay—their operation was, in essence, an effort by a hostile foreign intelligence service to forcibly suppress First Amendment activities in a major American city.
The Chinese have pursued this strategy “brilliantly” for years, said Puckett. “They put all their efforts into espionage, and get everything for free.”
U.S. officials have had to issue “stern warnings” to South Korea to “stop hacking” within the United States, said this person.
“They would have an employee sell technology to, say, the Russians or the Chinese, and rather than let their stockholders or investors know about it, they just let it walk. So, we’ve caught the guy, or we have information and we’d like to take it to the next level, and they don’t want to push it because of the bad press that gets out. It’s the most frustrating thing in the world.”