Intelligence: March 23, 2005

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Chinese intelligence activity is increasing in many areas. The FBI is swamped with Chinese tourists, students and businessmen caught collecting information (often legally, but it all adds up.) U.S. Department of Defense cyberwar experts have noted that Chinas energetic efforts to police its citizens use of the Internet, also appears to be used in collecting useful information for a future cyberwar offensive against foreign enemies. And then there is COSCO (Chinese Ocean Shipping Corporation), a $17 billion a year business, owned by the Chinese government, that operates dozens of huge tankers and container transports, as well as ship repair facilities and port operations around the world. It was always understood that COSCO would provide cover for Chinese spy operations. However, it appears that COSCO is more into espionage than previously thought. As American counter-terrorism activities increased in out-of-the-way places, they often found that, not only was COSCO already there, but so were plenty of Chinese intelligence personnel, operating under the cover of COSCO employees. It was a near-perfect fit. Port operations are the center of much of what goes into, and comes out of, a country. In many poor countries, the local officials who oversee foreign operators like COSCO can be bribed to look the other way when special cargo goes in, or out. COSCO also moves sensitive people, and material, for the Chinese military. Its never been a secret that COSCO works closely with Chinese military and intelligence agencies, but the degree of cooperation has been increasing. China doesnt publicize what they spend on intelligence operations, but indications are they are spending a lot more of late.

 


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