Congress has been warned to be on high alert for Chinese spies after an alleged Beijing spying plot was uncovered in the British Parliament.
Earlier this week, a parliamentary researcher with links to MPs holding classified information was arrested for “spying for China”.
The suspect is believed to be linked to numerous Conservative MPs, including Security Minister Tom Tugendhat and the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Alicia Kearns.
Several of the members with ties to the alleged spy are reportedly “privileged of classified or highly sensitive information,” but 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 alleged breach sparked a Metropolitan Police investigation and led MI5 to warn that more officers could be working at the highest levels of British democracy. The United States has now been warned that it could become a target.
A Chinese national named Fang Fang, or Christine Fang, targeted up-and-coming local politicians in the Bay Area and across the country who had the potential to succeed on the national stage, including Rep. Eric Swalwell.
Rep. Mike Gallagher, who chairs the House Select Committee on the Communist Party, told DailyMail.com that it is critical to educate members of Congress about the threat of infiltration, especially in light of the recent incident in the United Kingdom.
“One thing we are 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 also United Front work,” he said. he declared.
“I think the work of the United Front is a misunderstood phenomenon. I don’t think your average member understands what it is. The more we can inform our members about this phenomenon, the better they will be able to defend themselves.
The United Front is the political strategy used by the CCP to increase China’s influence and power globally through various methods, including deploying spies to attempt to change the policies of foreign countries so that they are more pro-China or obtain sensitive information.
In recent years, Congress has been infiltrated by Chinese spies trying to access classified information.
Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell’s ties to an alleged Chinese spy, Christine Fang, known as “Fang Fang,” have sparked an Ethics Committee investigation into his conduct.
The committee ultimately took no disciplinary action against Swalwell, but issued a letter warning lawmakers of the threat of foreign infiltration.
“Members should be aware of the possibility that foreign governments may attempt to exert inappropriate influence through gifts and other interactions,” the letter said.
Fang Fang left China to study in the United States in 2011, then worked to develop relationships with key lawmakers, including Swalwell, to gain access to sensitive information.
She reportedly raised money for his 2014 campaign and attended a number of events that the congressman attended.
The FBI, which was investigating Fang Fang, first raised concerns with the congressman in 2015. At that time, Swalwell said he cut off all contact with the alleged spy.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy kicked Swalwell off the House Intelligence Committee earlier this year because of his ties to Fang Fang.
But Swalwell is not the only lawmaker to have fallen for the scheme.
A former aide to Senator Diane Feinstein, Democrat of California, who worked as a driver in California for 20 years, was found to have ties to the CCP.
Feinstein was then chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
She insisted the spy “never had access to classified or sensitive information or legislative matters” and was fired after the FBI informed her that her office had been infiltrated.
Rep. Michael Waltz, Republican of Florida, criticized the two Democrats for falling prey to China’s “sophisticated” spy network.
“Communist China has a massive, sophisticated global spy network that has already hacked into the highest levels of government, such as the case of Senator Feinstein’s aide or the targeting of Congressman Swalwell,” said Waltz.
Waltz said he met with Canadian MP Michael Chong, who was also targeted by the Chinese.
“We will continue to pressure the intelligence community in its operations to combat these espionage efforts and protect members of Congress.”
Waltz serves on the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs and Intelligence committees.
Experts say it’s easier for Chinese spies to gain access to U.S. secrets through U.S. lawmakers than most think.
Alan Mendoza, executive director of the Henry Jackson Society think tank in the United Kingdom, told Dailymail.com that the infiltration of Chinese spies into Congress “could easily happen in the United States” because “no one had really understood that it could happen so spectacularly here.”
“Who’s to say that there aren’t people in the United States and other Western democracies who have been transformed and who may well be involved in Chinese influence operations or spying for from China.”
“It’s similar to what the Russians were doing, sending real spies who were clearly not connected to the regime,” Mendoza continued.
“It seems unlikely that China would not do this.”
He urged Congress to be “more attentive” to the “dangers” of Chinese efforts and to treat them on an equal footing with Russia.
Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the Global Trade in Services Summit at the 2023 China International Fair for Trade in Services. Experts say it is easier for Chinese spies to access US secrets through intermediary of American legislators than most think.
Rep. Michael Waltz, Republican of Florida, criticized the two Democrats for falling for China’s “sophisticated” spy network.
“It’s difficult to stop someone who is completely out of touch and capable of covering their tracks.”
Mendoza said politicians should closely examine the backgrounds of people they hire.
“If you’ve spent a lot of time in China, that should be a red flag that you’re looking into someone’s background.
“An incident like this reminds us to be vigilant and redouble our efforts in our processes.
“We don’t want to be alarmist and have a red McCarthyist position under the beds (but) sometimes we don’t pay attention to the obvious signs.”