China’s intelligence network has 25,000 spies now operating in the United States, with an additional 15,000 American recruits that have increased spying activities since 2012, according to reports.
“These spies, when they come to the United States, they could sleep around, they could put poison in your glass of wine to kill you; completely unscrupulous…the budget is between $3 billion to $4 billion annually,” billionaire Chinese businessmen Guo Wengui said.
Guo, who broke ties with Beijing months ago, said he still has close ties with the Ministry of State Security (MSS), and the military spy arm of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
“I know the Chinese system very, very well,” Guo said. “I have information about very minute details about how it operates.”
Chinese operations in the U.S. sharply increased after the Communist Party brought current President Xi Jinping to power in 2012, Guo said.
“Before 2012, cumulatively China had around 10,000 to 20,000 agents working in the United States,” he continued. “These agents had been sent to work in the United States over a 50-year period of time, and they were working in a defensive mode.”
Defensive intelligence was mainly focused on learning about the U.S., but after 2012 Beijing switched to “offensive” spying, he said.
“By offensive [operations], I mean to be ready to destroy the U.S. in ways they can,” Guo added.
American counterintelligence agencies’ lack of understanding of Chinese intelligence units poses a threat to the US at large.
“You don’t know which organizations in China are responsible for sending these spies, how they are managed, and to what purpose,” Guo said. “And the US adopts a very legalistic perspective to look at the question of spying.”
“Yet, for China their methods are not what the United States understands.”
Guo then outlined the missions Chinese spies are tasked with: obtaining military weapons-related technology, “buying” senior U.S. officials and the family members of American political or business elites, and penetrating Internet infrastructure with malicious software.
Several U.S. officials have already been caught spying for China just this year.
Last month, an ex-CIA officer was charged with selling top secret U.S. government documents to China.
And a State Department staffer with top secret clearance was charged with espionage in March after taking payments of money and gifts to spy for China for at least five years.