Capitol Hill warned to be on high alert after suspected Beijing espionage plot was uncovered in British parliament
Congress has been warned to be on high alert for Chinese spies after a suspected Beijing espionage plot was uncovered in British parliament.
Earlier this week, a parliamentary researcher with links to MPs with classified information was arrested for ‘spying for China.’
According to reports, several of the members with links to the suspected spy are ‘privy to classified or highly sensitive information’, however none have been accused of wrongdoing.
The suspect, who was arrested under the Official Secrets Act, has not been charged, and has said he is ‘completely innocent.’ He has not been named by police.
The suspected breach sparked a Metropolitan Police investigation and led to MI5 warning more operatives could be working in the highest levels of British democracy. Now the United States has been warned it could be a target.
Rep. Mike Gallagher, who chairs the House Select Committee on the Communist Party, told DailyMail.com that educating members of Congress about the threat of infiltration is critical – especially in light of the recent UK incident.
‘One thing we’re trying to do here on the Select Committee is to educate people -members and staff- about the nature of not only traditional CCP espionage but United Front work,’ he said.
‘I think United Front work is a poorly understood phenomenon. I don’t think your average member understands what it is. The more we can educate members about this phenomenon, the better they can defend themselves.’
The United Front is the political strategy utilized by the CCP to advance China’s influence and power globally through a variety of methods, including by deploying spies to try to change policies of foreign nations to be more pro-China or gain sensitive information.
Congress has be infiltrated by Chinese spies attempting to get access to classified information in recent years.
Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell’s ties to a suspected Chinese spy Christine Fang, known as ‘Fang Fang,’ sparked an Ethics Committee investigation into his conduct.
The committee ended up not taking any disciplinary action against Swalwell, but issued a letter warning lawmakers about the threat of foreign infiltration.
‘Members should be conscious of the possibility that foreign governments may attempt to secure improper influence through gifts and other interactions,’ the letter stated.
Fang Fang left China to go to college in the U.S. in 2011, and then worked on developing relationships with key lawmakers, including Swalwell, in order to get access to sensitive information.
She reportedly raised money for his 2014 campaign and attended a number of events that the congressman attended.
The FBI, who was investigating Fang Fang, first brought their concerns to the congressman in 2015. At that point, Swalwell said he broke off any contact with the suspected spy.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy kicked Swalwell off of the House Intelligence Committee earlier this year due to his Fang Fang connection.
But Swalwell isn’t the only lawmaker who has fallen for the ploy.
A former aide to Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., who worked as her driver in California for 20 years was found to have ties to the CCP.
Feinstein was chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time.
She insisted that the spy ‘never had access to classified or sensitive information or legislative matters’ and was let go after the FBI informed her that her office was infiltrated.
Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., put the two Democrats on blast for falling for China’s ‘sophisticated’ spy network.
‘Communist China has a sophisticated and enormous global spy network that has already breached the highest levels of government like in the cases of Senator Feinstein’s aide or the targeting of Congressman Swalwell,’ said Waltz.
Waltz said he met with Canadian member of Parliament Michael Chong who has also been targeted by the Chinese.
‘We’ll continue to press the intelligence community on their operations to combat these espionage efforts and safeguard members of Congress.’
Waltz sits on the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs and Intelligence committees.
Experts say that it is easier for Chinese spies to get access to American secrets through U.S. lawmakers than most think.
Alan Mendoza, executive director of the Henry Jackson Society think tank in the UK, told Dailymail.com that Chinese spy infiltration in Congress ‘could easily happen in the U.S.’ because ‘nobody had really understood it could happen in such a spectacular way here.
‘Who’s to say there aren’t people the U.S. and other Western democracies who have been turned, and who may well be involved in Chinese influence operations or spying for China.’
‘It’s similar to what the Russians used to do, sending proper spies who were not obviously connected to the regime,’ Mendoza continued.
‘It seems unlikely China isn’t going to do that.’
He urged Congress to be ‘more alert’ to the ‘dangers’ of Chinese efforts and treat it on the same level as Russia.