Oxonian Vet on Chinese Gathering of Information and the Implications

Captain Joe Skinner
Captain Joe Skinner

This is the second article of a three part series on China. In the first article I discussed the self-inflicted policy of the U.S. that benefits China. This article will discuss how China gathers information, how it uses the internet, and the implications for the United States and the world.

As I stated in an earlier article, the Director of the FBI, reported: “There are two kinds of big companies in the United States. There are those who’ve been hacked by the Chinese and there are those who don’t know they’ve been hacked by the Chinese.” China has a chip on their shoulder and actively pursues illegal activities to improve their national standing. This behavior is sanctioned by the communist party and tacitly condoned by the unaware or supported by gullible panda huggers.

An FBI Counter-Intelligence analyst, Paul Moore, used the following analogy for the Chinese: “If a beach was an espionage target, the Russians would send in a sub, frogmen would steal ashore in the dark of night and with great secrecy collect several buckets of sand and take them back to Moscow. The U.S. would target the beach with satellites and produce reams of data. The Chinese would send in a thousand tourists, each assigned to collect a single grain of sand. When they returned, they would be asked to shake out their towels. And they would end up knowing more about the sand than anyone else.”

For decades the Chinese have been stealing small pieces of information about science, technology, and manufacturing from around the world. They are using this information to bypass the expensive research and development to produce new products at costs that undercut companies that develop new ideas. Initially this information was gained by manipulation. “In the manipulation of foreigners every Chinese from amah and houseboy to the Generalissimo (Chiang Kai-shek(CKS)) and Madame (CKS’s wife) consider himself expert. In this matter Chinese confidence in themselves was supreme and their skills unsurpassed. They were adept, unrelenting, smooth and more often than not successful.“ (Barbara W. Tuchman “Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45”, page 332.)

Today, using manipulation, the Chinese gathers information in U.S. universities, businesses, think-tanks, and the U.S. government. People are willing to share information because they feel they owe Chinese hosts for their extreme hospitality, feel sorry for the poverty in China, believe in information without borders, or are panda huggers that want to help this ancient and proud culture. This information transfer that was once a trickle is becoming a flood as China exploits internet access and hacking into U.S. businesses, government, and all segments of society to obtain personal and sensitive data.

Additionally, China can use the internet to disrupt every facet of life in America. Keith B. Alexander, the National Security Agency Chief, while testifying before a congressional panel, stated that China could launch cyber attacks against U.S. infrastructure, including power, water, and aviation systems. Without power, street lights are out, gas stations are inoperable, cell phones are disabled, the internet is off, and transportation and communications return to the 1800s. Without water, cooking and basic sanitation requirements are impossible in cities.

In conclusion it is imperative to understand China is a competitor that will use every tool available to exploit America and even the smallest piece of information contributes to their efforts to regain the position of “Middle Kingdom.”


Captain Joe Skinner served 38 years in the Dept. of Defense, 31 years as a Naval Officer. He spent the last 13 years of his defense career working on China/Taiwan related issues. He is considered a Taiwan military expert and a China hand. He is now retired and calls Oxford his home. This is his take on U.S. and China’s international relations

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