Biden Shuts Down DOJ China Counter Spy Effort as CCP China Targets Americans

DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando

In late February the Biden Justice Department (DOJ) shuttered its China Initiative, a national security program launched by President Trump in 2018 designed to battle widespread Communist Chinese espionage in the United States.

The effort was especially focused on Chinese intellectual property theft at U.S. research universities. Much of this espionage is done by China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Team Biden did this, even as the DOJ has just announced the arrest of three Chinese nationals for “stalking, harassing, and spying on U.S. residents” on behalf of China’s secret police.

Team Biden dismantled the China Initiative after a few cases collapsed amid complaints it was unfairly targeting Chinese Americans. However, on its website the DOJ said the effort was responsible for major prosecutions, listing almost 60 cases, including hacking, and making false statements in grant applications.

But some cases ran into issues, were withdrawn by the Biden DOJ, or thrown out by judges.

When announcing the closure of the counterspy group, Matthew Olsen, assistant attorney general for national security, said, according to the Daily Mail: “Anything that creates the impression that the Department of Justice applies different standards based on race or ethnicity harms the department and our efforts, and it harms the public.”

Olsen provided no evidence of actual bias.

Republican lawmakers lambasted the decision, saying it “shows the Biden administration’s eagerness to sacrifice national security to appease political activists and the Chinese Communist Party.”

In a speech at George Mason University, reported by the Daily Mail, Olsen did admit that despite the diverse range of foreign intelligence threats, ‘it is clear that the government of China stands apart.’

In a speech last month, FBI Director Christopher Wray went further saying that the threat from China was ‘more brazen’ than ever, with the FBI opening new China espionage cases every 12 hours.

Despite the shuttering of the initiative Olsen said the work to counter Chinese intelligence operations would continue as part of a broader “Strategy for Countering Nation-State Threats” that included spying by Russia, Iran and North Korea.

But China isn’t just spying, it is harassing Americans, and interfering in U.S. elections.

Last week’s DOJ announcement was particularly chilling.

The Washington Examiner reported:

In the most alarming case, a Chinese national with ties to China’s Ministry of State Security hired a private investigator in New York to do whatever he could to stop the congressional campaign of Xiong Yan, a political refugee who fled China after the Tiananmen Square massacre. Yan was granted asylum in the United States, where he then served in the Army, attained the rank of major, and was awarded citizenship.

“Right now, we don’t want him elected,” the Chinese official told the private investigator. “Go find a girl … see how he goes for prostitution, take some photos, something of that nature,” the Chinese national advised. “Beat him up until he cannot run for election.”

That’s right, an agent of the Chinese government asked a private investigator to “beat up” a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil to prevent him from running for office. Even more chilling, the Chinese national told the private investigator, “We will have a lot more of this [work] in the future.”

As Alan Kohler, the FBI Counterintelligence Division Assistant Director, explained at the DOJ’s press conference:

The Ministry of State Security is more than an intelligence collection agency. It executes the Chinese government’s efforts to limit free speech, attack dissidents, and preserve the power of the Communist Party. When it exports the actions overseas, it violates the fundamental sovereignty of the United States and becomes a national security threat.

Meanwhile three House Republicans allege in a letter to Olsen at DOJ that the agency scrapped the Initiative due to pressure from progressive activists and the Chinese Communist Party.

“The Biden administration’s decision to end the China Initiative appears to be motivated by nothing more than identity politics,” Reps. Scott Fitzgerald (R., Wis.), Michael Waltz (R., Fla.), and Andy Biggs (R., Ariz.) wrote.

Maybe Team Biden should rethink its approach to Chinese spying. And worry less about hurt feelings and identity politics, and more on real threats to Americans and our national security. ADN

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank. - paulcrespo.substack.com - PAULCRESPO.COM

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