Chinese spy leader Yanjun Xu marks a new chapter in the war on espionage

After federal prosecutors convicted a Chinese spy leader of espionage earlier this month, counterintelligence officials told The Daily Beast that the case could be an important moment for the United States as it works to combat the problems that the FBI is working on. opens a new anti-intelligence case. every 12 hours to China.

Yanjun Xu, deputy director of the foreign intelligence department of the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS), became the first Chinese intelligence officer to be extradited to the United States for trial and sentenced. But, according to Bill Evanina, a former official with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Sue will almost certainly not be the last.

“It’s a very big job that we were able to extradite a famous person [Chinese] an intelligence officer from Europe, ”Evanina said. He resigned as chairman of the National Center for Intelligence and Security earlier this year and is now CEO of The Evanina Group. “It’s [transcript] has been used for decades as evidence that the Chinese Communist Party is using the entire government approach to steal our technology. “

Evanina continued, “It shouldn’t be hockey,” but Sue’s case will probably be “similar to the ’50s or’ 60s, when we had the first two cases of La Cosa Nostra to prove their existence.”

Sue’s case is well-founded for a number of reasons. First, this is the first time a senior Chinese spy has been extradited and convicted for questioning. This history is important because it should be a legal template for future cases. But there may be real intelligence that U.S. officials can get from Sue as well. And there is diplomatic significance. The Chinese government almost certainly wants the United States to return Sue to China, and China can try to punish Americans in China – whether they are spies or not – as a final transaction chip to facilitate Sue’s return.

Since 2013, Sue has been using multiple nicknames after a series of company secrets in the aviation industry, targeting insider staff with attractive offers and pay to come to China and make presentations.

But his attempt to steal technology related to the fan engine of the GE Aviation aircraft, which GE Aviation carefully protected from competitors, according to court records, he did so. Sue targeted a GE employee and invited him to attend a Chinese university in 2017 and tried to persuade the employee to divulge a corporate secret along the way. Sue finally offered to meet them in 2018 in Europe.

A meeting has been scheduled. But GE and an employee started working with the FBI. And when Sue tested her hand at a meeting in Belgium, she quickly realized that she had been deceived. Sue was arrested and extradited to the United States.

This is a shocking belief while the U.S. government is trying to counter a number of spy threats from China; Intelligence officials say the United States has been hit hard by Chinese spying in recent years. And as Christopher Wray, the FBI director at Capitol Hill earlier this year, testified, the U.S. government has experienced a 1,300 percent increase in economic espionage surveys over the past few years.

“I don’t think there is any country that poses a more serious threat to our innovation, economic security and democratic ideas,” Vray told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

As shown in FIG Bloomberg Last week, it was reported that U.S. spy agencies were struggling to provide enough information about China that would be useful to politicians. The CIA is currently working to launch the China Mission Center to increase intelligence gathering in China to better understand every move made by Beijing and to better understand Beijing’s spying operations against U.S. targets.

Sue’s sentencing time may be upsetting in the coming days. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that President Joe Biden will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss “ways to manage competition responsibly between the United States and China.” But Sue’s ruling almost certainly won’t help relations between Washington and Beijing, said Jim Olson, a former head of the CIA’s anti-intelligence agency.

“It will definitely be a failure because the Chinese interpret it so hostilely,” Olson told The Daily Beast. “I don’t think the Chinese intelligence service or the Chinese government will just sit back and allow this. It’s a serious blow to them for the loss of an MSS officer and that person is in a U.S. prison because that’s what I’m waiting for.” , is a long sentence. “

Olson warned the Americans very well that in the coming days they could be in danger if the Chinese put pressure on the U.S. to give up on Sue.

Holden Triplet, a former FBI legal attaché in Beijing, told the Daily Beast that the Chinese government is likely interested in reaching an agreement on Xu’s return before he sends more MSS secrets to U.S. officials.

“The longer he stays in the U.S., the more concern the Chinese side will give him to give him important information that could affect any other intelligence operation that was part of it,” Triplet said. “The Chinese know this and will therefore be very interested in getting him back as soon as possible.”

The White House did not return a request for comment.

Meanwhile, the conviction against Sue would be useful for directing the United States and its allies to go to China’s spy cells. Evanina said it would be an important step for the intelligence community to “bring the techniques, tactics, abilities, intentions and skills of the business to our partners to show them what it is and how it works for them. be able to see it, identify it, and stop it around the world. ”

“I can guarantee you that now they have long meetings on how they will reconsider the theft of American technology.»

– Jim Olson, former CIA chief

But this conviction will have a major impact not only on U.S. counterintelligence circles; China’s intelligence community is likely to rush behind the scenes, Olson said.

“It’s a huge shock for MSS,” said Olson, the author To catch a spy: The art of counterintelligence. “I can guarantee you that now they have long meetings on how they will review the theft of American technology as a result of the Yangjun Xu case.”

This message could put the MSS on an unequal footing and struggle to find new ways to achieve similar espionage operations in the future. Duyan Norman, a former CIA officer who spent the last years of his service focusing on a CIA program that helped spies and agents to escape surveillance, said if MSS was wise about its espionage tactics, it would use the sentence as an opportunity. re-group and replace commercial crafts so you don’t face the same thing again.

“The question always arises, when you use this old craft, do you get caught?” Norman told the Daily Beast. “It should be an indicator for them not to do it anymore.”

According to U.S. intelligence officials, Chinese intelligence officials often pursue their goals and offer them attractive offers to travel abroad to attend conferences or presentations, only to be later involved in exchanging trade secrets.

Olson said MSS may now be more cautious about using this approach.

“This will have a huge impact on how our espionage operations in the United States, especially the theft of our technology,” he said. “They, I hope, will be gun-shy. They will be worried that the Americans they are trying to recruit will actually be monitored by the FBI and will act as double agents against them. “

Sue’s approach is a common tactic of recruiting Chinese spies, and in this case care could be a black eye for MSS, agreed John Wetzel, who previously served as a special counterintelligence agent in the Department of Defense.

Wetzel told The Daily Beast: “These are paid for” trips “as a common tactic of Chinese intelligence officers targeting U.S. engineers and academics” and exposing them in court could “harm MSS operations”.

The Chinese government, as it often does in cases of possible espionage, now openly denies that Xu is trying to steal trade secrets.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in China, Liu Penggyu, told The Daily Beast that the allegations were “purely fabricated.”

“We urge the United States to consider the case in accordance with the law and in a fair manner to ensure the rights and interests of Chinese citizens,” Pengui said.

But former U.S. intelligence officials seemed to think that the reason China didn’t fight harder to prevent Xu’s case – as the intelligence services are accustomed to – was because the case against him was too strong.

“They got so caught up that any rejection or mistake would be very embarrassing,” Evanina said. | Chinese spy leader Yanjun Xu marks a new chapter in the war on espionage


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