The Chinese Student Spies Among Us

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryA Chinese student named Wu Xioalei was convicted of threatening to do harm to a fellow Chinese student for posting criticism of the Chinese government. Wu could serve as much as ten to fifteen years in a U.S. prison for his actions and a fine of $250,000. This act is an attempt by the U.S. government to make it clear that the Chinese government cannot use foreign exchange students as spies or hostile forces against anyone in the United States. This is nothing new sadly. I remember back in 1989, some Chinese students at the same university I attended, had protested against what their government had done in the Tiananmen Square Massacre. A few days later, they had received anonymous phone calls threatening them and their families back in China. It had occurred to me and so many of these Chinese students then that there were spies among them who reported their actions back to the Chinese Ministry of State Security—China’s secret police. After this, these students lived in constant fear.

The Chinese government has been using Chinese students, in many cases against their will, to spy on American institutions, obtain technology vital to China’s industrial, scientific and military development, and steal patented American corporate secrets. Just as egregious is the use of Chinese students to report back any other Chinese or even American students who might be a “problem.” This has been going on for years, and in too many ways the Chinese government has gotten away with it. It has been a sad thing that America’s intelligence agencies had not done much about it for so long. Worse, these Chinese student spies were able to force their fellow dissenting Chinese students back to China where they were punished with long prison sentences and maybe even worse. During most of these times, the only real punishment for these Chinese student spies was expulsion from the United States. When this happened (if it happened), the Chinese government simply sent more Chinese student spies.

One other thing the Chinese government had done in the past was try to recruit Americans to spy on their own government in exchange for a lot of money. One well known case was Glen Duffie Shriver, who tried to get into the Central Intelligence Agency so he could bring back information on the inner workings of the agency to the Chinese government. He was caught almost immediately and sentenced to four years in a federal prison. Shriver was lucky he did not get life imprisonment, but the U.S. government had sent a message to any and all Americans not to spy for China. I personally find it sad that the Chinese government has and continues to use its nationals as spies. This all has to call into question why the United States allows Chinese students to be in the United States in large numbers. The simple reality is that the People’s Republic of China is no friend of the United States, and I personally feel sorry for so many Chinese nationals who are threatened and pressured by the Chinese government to do things against their will.

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