(FiveNation.com)- It looked good on paper. The Chinese government will give Washington’s National Arboretum a $100 million garden. Local officials anticipated the 2017 project, which includes temples, pavilions, and a 70-foot white pagoda would attract thousands of tourists annually.
US counterintelligence looked deeper. They said the pagoda’s placement atop one of Washington, DC’s highest points, two miles from the Capitol, made it ideal for information collection.
According to insiders, Chinese authorities planned to create the pagoda using shipments in diplomatic pouches, which US Customs inspectors cannot investigate.
Before construction began, federal regulators canceled the project.
The FBI and other federal organizations focus on Chinese espionage on US territory. US security officials say Chinese spying has skyrocketed in the past decade.
Since at least 2017, federal officials have rejected blatant attempts to implant listening devices near vital military and government sites.
One of the FBI’s most concerning discoveries relates to Huawei equipment installed on cell towers close to US military posts in the Midwest’s rural areas. According to numerous people with knowledge of the situation, the FBI found that the equipment could intercept and degrade communications within the Defense Department that were subject to strict security restrictions, including those used by the US Strategic Command, which is in charge of the nation’s nuclear arsenal.
Huawei technology is capable of intercepting both military and commercial cellular communications. Sources involved with the inquiry say that this may give China access to America’s nuclear weapons.
Most of the company’s infrastructure is still atop cell towers adjacent to US military installations. According to Huawei, it has never taken part in malicious cyber security incidents. According to the company’s statement on Thursday, it cannot utilize any frequency assigned by the Department of Defense. Under its so-called China Initiative, the Justice Department has brought charges against a former engineering professor at the University of Tennessee. Along I-25, rural telecom providers have begun installing less expensive Chinese-made routers and other equipment on cell towers.
The bustling corridor connects some of the military installations that are the most remote in the US. Despite being FCC-approved, Huawei equipment may interfere with communications on the DOD-spectrum. A few of the in question cameras were linked to Huawei networks. In 2019, the White House received a briefing on the I-25 inquiry. Officials in charge of counterintelligence looked for other areas where Chinese firms may be making land purchases or offering to develop a piece of public land as part of a “sister city” relationship.
It could be challenging to differentiate between economic espionage and legitimate business opportunities. The FCC has ordered Viaero and other telecom companies that receive government financing to “tear and replace” their Huawei and ZTE infrastructure to provide cell service in rural areas.