FBI killed a $100M Chinese government garden that would have been ‘perfect’ for intelligence
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has quietly killed a $100 million project to build a National China Garden in Washington, DC, just two miles from the U.S. Capitol, as the intelligence community grows increasingly concerned that Chinese investments in the US are intended for their espionage capabilities.
In 2017, local Washington officials and Chinese leaders celebrated a deal to build an ornate Chinese garden at the National Arboretum. The plan was to transform a 12-acre field into the arboretum with temples and pavilions and native Chinese shrubs.
It was believed that Chinese officials were eager to foot the bill for the project as a way to restore US-China relations, as the Japanese did by donating thousands of their cherry trees to DC.
The National China Garden was to be modeled after the Ge Garden in Yangzhou
But U.S. counterintelligence officials dug into the project, later finding that the project could have an ulterior motive, according to a new CNN report.
They noted that the pagoda was planned on one of the highest points in Washington, DC, just two miles from the Capitol, giving it a prime position for espionage activities.
Chinese officials also wanted to ship the materials for the pagoda’s construction with diplomatic pouches, meaning US customs officials couldn’t examine what was inside.
Federal officials then quietly halted the project, one of several Chinese land investments they have expressed concern about, as the communist nation picks up properties near critical US infrastructure.
The FBI discovered a pattern of attempts to install Chinese-made Huawei equipment on cell towers near military bases in the rural Midwest.
The FBI determined that this material was capable of acquiring and interfering with classified communications from the Department of Defense, including those used by the US Strategic Command, which oversees the country’s nuclear weapons.
The FBI discovered a pattern of attempts to install Chinese-made Huawei equipment atop cell towers near military bases in the rural Midwest
Workers can be seen on the production line at Huawei’s manufacturing campus near Shenzhen, China
An extensive FBI investigation into Huawei equipment near military installations predates at least the Obama administration, according to CNN, although the Chinese government and Huawei eagerly deny all allegations of espionage.
Companies associated with the communist regime now own 192,000 acres of US farmland worth $1.9 billion. China-based food producer Fufeng Group recently purchased hundreds of acres of farmland in North Dakota just 20 minutes from a major Grand Forks Air Force base, home to some of the country’s most sensitive drone technology. Fufeng plans to build a grain factory.
Multiple sources told CNN there is “no doubt” that Huawei equipment is capable of intercepting very limited airwaves and even disrupting Strategic Command communications, which would give the Chinese a glimpse into the US’s nuclear arsenal.
“This touches on some of the most sensitive things we do,” said a former FBI official with knowledge of the investigation. “It would affect our ability to essentially command and control the nuclear triad. “That falls into the ‘BFD’ category.”
After Chinese telecommunications technology Huawei and ZTE had already been installed in the US, the FCC implemented a rule in 2019 that effectively banned small telecom companies from using the Chinese-made equipment.
The following year, Congress allocated $1.9 billion to compensate companies for removing Huawei and ZTE technology.
Two years later, none of the equipment has been removed and the FCC is sitting with applications for funding to remove 24,000 pieces of equipment made in China.
Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asked Congress for an additional $3 billion to repay all eligible companies, saying that if additional funding is not given, it could only reimburse companies for removing about 40 percent of Huawei equipment.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said his agency is opening new investigations into Chinese espionage every day.
“That’s probably about 2,000 studies,” Wray said. “Not to mention their cyber theft, where they have a bigger hacking program than all the other major nations combined, and have stolen more personal and corporate data from Americans than all countries combined.”
FBI agents have also tracked down Interstate 25 in rural Colorado, Montana and Nebraska, where rural telecom providers have installed cheaper Huawei equipment to connect the sparsely populated corridor that also links some of the most secretive military installations in the US. .
Some former counterintelligence officials say the FBI should do better to spread awareness among cities and states considering an investment proposal. A current FBI official said the agency is stepping up its defensive briefings to companies, academic institutions and state and local governments. The official said the briefings are much more detailed than in the past, but in many cases still fall on deaf ears.
“Sometimes I feel like we’re a lifeguard going to a drowning person, and they don’t want our help,” the current FBI official said.