China Ramping Up Intelligence Collection Efforts Against US: Expert

China Ramping Up Intelligence Collection Efforts Against US: Expert
(Left) The Chinese balloon drifts to the ocean after being shot down off the coast in Surfside Beach, S.C., on Feb. 4, 2023. (Right) The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson participates in a group sail during the Rim of the Pacific exercise off the coast of Hawaii on July 26, 2018. (Randall Hill/Reuters; Petty Officer 1st Class Arthurgwain L. Marquez/U.S. Navy via AP)
Tiffany Meier

China is ramping up its intelligence collection efforts against the United States, according to James Fanell, former director of intelligence and information operations for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

In late January, Japanese astronomers stationed in Hawaii noticed mysterious green laser beams that were being fired from space over one of the state’s largest mountain ranges.

Initially, the astronomers suggested that the lights came from a NASA satellite—they were thought to be American lasers. But just a week after their initial statement, the scientists issued a correction saying that the green beams more than likely originated from a Chinese satellite.

Fanell, a retired U.S. Navy captain and intelligence officer specializing in Indo-Pacific security affairs, said the beams could be measuring quite a number of things, including pollution and “the height, the altitude, the size, the shape, the distances of particular installations in the Hawaiian Islands, which happen to have a lot of U.S. military facilities.”

“They could be testing our reactions and responses from the U.S. installations in terms of their ability to detect these green lasers; so they could be watching for a response," Fanell told NTD’s “China in Focus.” “They may have somebody’s computers already tapped and looking at what they say when they see the laser, testing our observatories that we have in the Big Island of Hawaii to see what their communications are.”

He says it would be a mistake to disregard China’s actions or just assume that they’re related to the environment.

“I think there’s definitely a military aspect to this, given the presence that we have there in the islands, from the Pacific Missile Range test facility (PMRF) in Kauai, where we’re testing our own nuclear ballistic missiles ... to Oahu and Pearl Harbor and Camp Smith, Pacific fleet, our submarine forces specifically, and even to the Big Island, where the U.S. Army and Marine Corps does a lot of training as well,” Fanell said in an interview.

“Mapping and using green lasers is another way of measuring our capabilities and our resources.

“So part of their activity toward us, I think we will see much more as they increase the overt nature of their intelligence collection against the United States.”

He further pointed to the report of a spent rocket stage from a Chinese launch of a trio of spy satellites that burned up over Texas on March 8.

“Given the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance efforts that the PRC has been conducting more and more focused on the United States that we need to be aware of what these are,” Fanell said, using the official name of the People’s Republic of China.

“Was this just a normal space launch that went awry? Or was this something related to some other kind of grand strategy that the Chinese have to use their military resources to isolate or even attack the United States?”

Regime Seeks Access to Artic

Fanell singled out a report about Chinese surveillance buoys discovered in Arctic waters last fall that were intercepted by the Canadian Armed Forces.

These objects would help the communist regime collect data on the Arctic environment, the sea environment, the sea temperature, the salinity, the currents, and things of that nature, he said.

Fanell said the move serves the regime’s effort to “access ... the Arctic, to be able to transit ships up there to carry supplies and goods to Europe, from China instead of having to go all the way through the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean, Suez Canal, and into the Mediterranean where things take much longer and are more at risk.”

He noted that no move by the regime is “benign.”

“So whatever data they’re gaining about the maritime domain, from these buoys, or from any other ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] sensor ... whether it’s an aircraft, a submarine, a satellite, a human intelligence person, anything—that will go into the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] and help them in the missions and tasks that they’ve been given by [Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping], and previously, by [former CCP head Hu Jintao], which is to be the strongest and biggest military in the earth by 2049,” Fanell said.

Displace US

The regime’s ultimate goal is to “displace the United States and be the world’s superpower,” he said.

According to Fanell, China’s 14th rubber-stamped National People’s Congress shows the totalitarian nature of the regime.

“That’s kind of the regime in their nature, and their ideology is to become the greatest power on the earth and to rule the rest of the world the same way they rule their own people, which is to have total control,” he said.

“And we’ve been watching it for the last three years over the dynamic zero COVID policy where no one could move around in their country without permission of the government. And that’s what they want. And we need to be resisting that because that’s slavery. And we don’t want to live in that.”

Roman Balmakov contributed to this report.