The extent of the Chinese espionage efforts in the United States is diverse and ubiquitous, and checking it requires working with local leaders to stop the kind of targeting that ensnared Rep. Eric Swalwell, a former top CIA official told Fox News on Friday.
“China practices their own Orwellian espionage on their citizens and they’re mounting a full-throttle espionage campaign against us here,” former CIA station chief Dan Hoffman told “America’s Newsroom.” If we don’t come together as Democrats and Republicans, we won’t be able to counter them very well.”
Swalwell, D-Calif., is under fire for ties to a suspected Chinese intelligence operative, raising questions about how extensive China’s spying is in the United States. Axios reported earlier this week that a woman named Christine Fang, who is also known as Fang Fang, allegedly developed ties with local and national politicians, including Swalwell. Fang reportedly met Swalwell more than six years ago when he was a councilman before he was elected to Congress.
That same report said that Fang allegedly had sexual encounters with at least two Midwestern mayors, which raised questions about Swalwell’s relationship with Fang. China reportedly has a history of conducting suspicious activities to gain access to and influence U.S. political circles.
The United States closed the Chinese consulate in Houston because China was conducting spy operations from there, Hoffman said. And in Val Verde County, Texas, a Chinese subsidiary owned and operated by a Chinese general bought 100,000 acres of land to build a windmill farm, but the Chinese were plugging into the electrical grid and spying on Laughlin Air Force Base, Hoffman said.
“They are ruthlessly focused on conducting espionage in this country,” Hoffman said.
The Houston consultate is not the only place where Chinese spies were based. They are in Washington and in the countries consulates in San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, he said.
“They used all sorts of collectors and some very creative ways of stealing our secrets,” Hoffman said.
In a recent interview with Politico, Swalwell declined to comment when asked to explain the relationship he had with the alleged spy. Other members of Congress like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday “she has no concerns about Swalwell” during her weekly news conference. In contrast, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called Swalwell a “national security threat.”
“When I was at CIA we said counterintelligence flaps … are not like a fine wine getting better with age,” Hoffman said. “The most disturbing part of this, this [Swalwell] case is five years old and we’re only hearing about it today.”
Hoffman warned that notifying officials who are under threat is “critically important.” The FBI has said there is no indication that Christine Fang stole any classified information from Swalwell. Hoffman continued to say the U.S. is still at great risk for not sharing all the details of what happened.
“We missed an opportunity to learn some lessons and take corrective action. We need to help our state and local elected officials whom the Chinese are targeting ruthlessly. Eric Swalwell is one of them. He was a low-level council member when he was targeted back in 2011.”