Chinese gatecrashers at US bases raise espionage concerns

CHINESE nationals, sometimes posing as tourists, have accessed military bases and sensitive sites in the US as many as 100 times in recent years, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Sunday, citing US officials who described the incidents as potential espionage threats.

The Defense Department, FBI and other agencies held a review last year to try to limit these incidents that involved gatecrashers because of their attempts to get into US military bases without proper authorization, the WSJ report said.

The gatecrashers ranged from Chinese nationals found crossing into a US missile range in New Mexico to scuba divers swimming in murky waters near a US government rocket launch site in Florida, according to the report.

The incidents that occurred in rural areas where there is little tourism typically involved Chinese nationals who were pressed into service and required to report back to the Chinese government, the report added, citing officials familiar with the practice.

The US Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the WSJ report.

The reported incidents come at a time when Washington and Beijing are taking tentative steps to soothe tensions that spiked after a suspected Chinese high-altitude spy balloon crossed the United States before the US military shot it down off the East Coast in February. — Reuters