As Americans enjoy their daily routines, there’s unsettling news about our national security. In recent years, Chinese nationals have attempted to breach U.S. military bases and sensitive sites approximately 100 times.
According to The Wall Street Journal, these individuals, often posing as tourists, have exploited various means to gain access. Their methods range from claiming to follow GPS to actual restaurants on bases to speeding through security checkpoints, and even scuba diving near strategic facilities. The objective is to test our defenses and, quite possibly, to collect intelligence.
"Chinese nationals, sometimes posing as tourists, have accessed military bases and other sensitive sites in the U.S. as many as 100 times in recent years." U.S. officials say the potential espionage incidents "appear designed to test security practices." https://t.co/WJgkQRRoY9
— Ajit Pai (@AjitPai) September 4, 2023
Fort Wainwright in Alaska, home to the Army’s Arctic warfare-focused 11th Airborne Division, became a destination for Chinese nationals claiming to have hotel reservations on the base. Another example involves nationals posing as tourists swimming near an intelligence center in Key West, Florida, taking photographs of the site. This location saw three arrests in 2020 after individuals illegally entered the naval air station and took photos.
As officials familiar with the practice have stated, these attempts are “designed to test security practices at U.S. military installations and other federal sites.” It doesn’t take an intelligence specialist to see the outlines of a larger plan here.
This is not a problem we can ignore. The Defense Department and FBI have already held reviews to curb these breaches, but the issue persists. While the Obama and Biden administrations have often appeared soft on China, it’s time for more stringent measures to protect our borders and secure our military facilities.
What is particularly jarring is the lack of severe penalties for these actions. Notably, no espionage charges have been levied in any of these cases. Does the absence of formal charges imply that the threat is minor? Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts has declared the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has infiltrated almost every country. Anthony Shaffer, a former CIA-trained intelligence officer, asserts that the CCP has even entered our institutions and government. The threat is genuine.
We may still need concrete evidence linking these gate-crashers directly to the CCP. Still, the activity falls in line with the CCP’s larger objective to test and subvert American power and security. The incidents provide an alarming insight into how other countries could exploit loopholes and lapses in our defenses.
Actions speak louder than words. At a time when geopolitical tensions with China are at an all-time high, we cannot afford to be complacent. America must bolster its defenses and be prepared for any threat — whether from cyber-attacks, intellectual property theft or potential espionage activities.