Yes, you read that correctly. The Chinese Ministry for State Security has more agents living in the state of California than it has FBI. Based in Beijing, the Ministry for State Security (MSS) is responsible for China’s foreign intelligence, counter-intelligence, and security. The MSS is believed to be responsible for the majority of Chinese espionage.
Military talk show host and veteran Bryan Suits is among the personnel affected by the security breach of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Believed to be committed by the Chinese, the breach is quickly becoming known as one of the worst in the history of the U.S. government.
China’s MSS has agents living throughout Asia, Europe, Australia, and the Americas. The number of MSS agents living in California alone is believed to be between 300 and 800. The high number, Suits explains, is attributed to California’s technology sector. Silicon Valley is arguably the world’s technological epicenter. Southern California is also home to a plethora of defense contractors, many of which the U.S. relies upon for developing and producing defense related hardware and software. As Suits explains, the presence of these undercover agents is costing us dearly:
China and the U.S. are no strangers when it comes to cyber and industrial espionage. In May of 2013 a U.S. defense advisory panel released a report detailing a list of advanced weapons systems already hacked by the Chinese. Yes, the designs for our most prized aircraft, ships, and other military equipment are currently in the hands of the People’s Liberation Army.
Stolen designs include the F-18 fighter jet, V-22 Osprey, F-35 joint strike fighter, Blackhawk helicopter, Littoral Combat Ship, and Patriot Missile System. China also gained access to the U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) network, which is responsible for the transportation of U.S. troops and equipment around the world.
China unveiled its upgraded J-20 in December of 2014. The stealth, twin-engine holds a striking resemblance to Lockheed Martin’s F-35. U.S. defense and intelligence officials confirmed that a subsidiary of China’s state-run Aviation Industry Corp (AVIC) used stolen data of the F-35 in building the J-20. The Washington Times reported:
“The Office of Director of National Intelligence is known to have details of AVIC’s [China’s Aviation Industry Corp’s] past involvement in illicit arms transfers and its role in obtaining sensitive F-35 technology through cyber espionage, the officials said.
The F-35 data theft was confirmed after recent photographs were published on Chinese websites showing a newer version of the J-20. The new version of the radar-evading aircraft had incorporated several design upgrades since the first demonstrator aircraft was revealed in 2011.”
At the current rate of expansion it will not be long before China’s military power surpasses that of the U.S. In addition to its technological expansion, China is also testing its strength in the South China Sea. The People’s Liberation Army Navy is building runways and military bases on contested islands and reefs as we speak. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. has done absolutely nothing to contest the activities.
The United States’ unpreparedness in cyber theft and cyber warfare already sets us several years behind our Chinese counterparts. Its failure to act upon a decade of warnings no doubt resulted in the OPM breach and in the theft of our most coveted defense technology. America will be recovering from these breaches for many years to come.
For a more extensive list of compromised defense technology and systems, see the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs.