By Joel D. Joseph, Chairman, Made in the USA Foundation
In 1956, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev warned, "We will bury you!" (Russian: "My vas pokhoronim!"). He was wrong about Russia burying us. But he was right that a communist nation, China, will bury us with drugs, espionage and soaring trade deficits.
The New Opium War
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 70,000 Americans died from drug-overdose deaths in 2017. This is more deaths than all the American who were killed during the entire Vietnam War .
More than 28,000 of those overdose deaths were caused by fentanyl, the highly addictive opioid drug that is fifty times more potent than heroin and far more deadly. The demand for this drug surges from the depths of despair afflicting too many individuals and communities across the United States. Some of that despair is rampant in rust-belt communities that have lost more than two million jobs to China. The supply of fentanyl comes mainly from the People's Republic of China. A record seizure of the Chinese narcotic was seized in January of this year, enough to kill 115 million people.
According to the Washington Post, "Chinese spies are increasingly recruiting U.S. intelligence officers as part of a widening, sustained campaign to shake loose government secrets."
While the Trump administration has focused on the damage of Beijing's economic espionage an area of focus in bilateral trade talks current and former U.S. officials say China has also grown bolder and more successful in traditional spy games, including targeting less conventional recruits.
"China cases historically have involved economic espionage, and specifically targeting former intel officers seems like a new trend," said Jeff Asher, a former CIA officer. Asher said the trend might be linked to the 2015 theft of more than 20 million files from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which included background-check records for government employees.
"No country poses a broader, more severe intelligence-collection threat than China," warned Christopher Wray, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "They're doing it through Chinese intelligence services, through state-owned enterprises, through ostensibly private companies, through graduate students and researchers, through a variety of actors all working on behalf of China."
For example, former CIA case officer, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, faces charges of conspiring to provide classified information to China and mishandling classified information. China is alleged to have given Lee a cash gift of $100,000 and promised it would "take care of him for life", according to court documents. The Hong Kong-born Lee, who was a CIA officer between 1994 and 2007, is also alleged to have deposited hundreds of thousands of dollars more in illicit payments from his Chinese handlers into his personal HSBC accounts in Hong Kong.
Trade Gap with China Expands