Chinese nationals attempted to gain access to U.S. military bases in Alaska, posing as tourists to carry out suspected spying operations, USA Today reported, citing officials and servicemembers.
In some cases, visitors from China seem to have mistakenly entered some of the numerous U.S. military installations in the northernmost state, officials told USA Today. However, other attempts by Chinese citizens to enter military bases appear to be targeted operations intended to collect sensitive information on American military capabilities, soldiers familiar with the events told the outlet on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Most details regarding the incidents, which have taken place over the span of years, remain classified, according to USA Today.
In one instance, a vehicle carrying Chinese citizens bypassed a checkpoint at Fort Wainwright, an Army installation near Fairbanks, Alaska, USA Today reported, citing the soldiers. When authorities stopped and searched the vehicle, they discovered a drone.
The occupants claimed they were tourists who had gotten lost, the soldier told USA Today.
Another Army officer told the outlet that some Chinese citizens who appear on the surface as tourists are actually spies, tasked with gathering intelligence on the US military.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks did not directly address reports of attempts to breach U.S. military facilities by Chinese nationals posing as tourists, according to USA Today. The military is taking steps to ensure bases in Alaska, which house some of the most high-end defense capabilities and complex war games, are secure.
Wray called China’s government and the Chinese Communist Party the foremost threats to U.S. national security, in terms of counterintelligence. Their thirst for “our innovation, our trade secrets, [and] our intellectual property” knows no bounds, he noted. https://t.co/79GfIBNi3R pic.twitter.com/78T5GKGOhf
— FBI (@FBI) April 25, 2022
Spies could be collecting imagery on the bases, Retired Gen. David Deptula, the Air Force’s former senior intelligence officer, told USA Today. But they could also leave behind sensors to pick up and transmit signals to Chinese intelligence services.
It was not immediately clear how many incidents occurred, or which installations were targeted. Alaska hosts three major military bases — Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, and Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks — as well as smaller installations operating a constellation of advanced capabilities, including the Air Force’s F-35 jets and the Army’s sophisticated missiles and radars.
As competition in the Arctic heats up, Alaska is increasingly viewed as the front line of defense against threats from China, Russia and North Korea.
China has ramped up increasingly open surveillance and espionage attempts on the U.S. military. Earlier this week, defense officials revealed the U.S. intelligence community opened an investigation into a large-scale Chinese hacking campaign in 2022 targeting multiple government agencies, including the U.S. Navy, according to CNN and Task & Purpose.
The Pentagon, Army and Air Force did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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