Breaking Monday, newly released reports show the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Defense (DOD) have tracked nearly 100 incidents of Chinese nationals spying and trying to “breach American military bases and other critical federal sites” , reports Foreign Desk News.
The Chinese nationals, known as “gate crashers” pose as tourists and attempt to make the breach, reports say. Among the attempts made include crossing into an American missile range in New Mexico and scuba divers who swam near a U.S. government rocket launch site in Florida.
Colorado Democratic Representative Jason Crow, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, told the Wall Street Journal that Congress might consider legislation due to a growing number of incidents and that most trespassing laws are state and local.
Officials say the growing trend represents a potential espionage threat from the Chinese government. Foreign Desk News has rounded up information on the history of some of the known attempted breaches from Chinese nationals:
One instance included U.S. officials finding Chinese nationals claiming to try and follow Google Maps to the nearest McDonald’s or Burger King near a U.S. military base.
Another incident included Chinese nationals arriving in the U.S. saying they had a hotel reservation near a military base. Another group of Chinese nationals claiming to be tourists tried to force their way past guards at Fort Wainwright, home to the U.S. Army’s 11th Airborne Division centered on Arctic warfare, claiming they had reservations at a commercial hotel on the base.
The Wall Street Journal reports that a Pentagon spokesperson said in some cases, Chinese nationals have achieved unauthorized access to military bases by speeding through security checkpoints. In those incidents, they are “often cited criminally, barred from future installation access, and escorted off-case,” the spokesperson told the Journal.
Officials say there have been other instances which have occurred in rural areas where tourism is less common and further away from commercial airports. Last year, the FBI, Pentagon, and other government agencies led a review around preventing such activities. Officials do not know how many incidents were “friendly in nature.”