CHINA USED STOLEN DATA TO ‘BURN’ CIA SPOOKS IN AFRICA, EUROPE
The US used to have a secure intelligence gathering system in China and could readily gather state secrets using their spies within the government and the bureaucracy, wrote Zach Dorfman in the first in a series of articles for Foreign Policy that detail the decade-long between Washington and Beijing over data.
In 2013, the US noted that Chinese intelligence was able to identify undercover Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives flying in for sensitive missions in Europe and Africa, tailing them and showing them that Beijing knew what they were up to. The suspicion was confirmed by US countersurveillance.
The CIA had been taking advantage of China’s own growing presence overseas to meet or recruit sources, according to one of former official, Dorfman wrote.
“’We can’t get to them in Beijing, but can in Djibouti. Heat map Belt and Road’—China’s trillion-dollar infrastructure and influence initiative—'and you’d see our activity happening. It’s where the targets are.’ The CIA recruits ‘Russians and Chinese hard in Africa,’” said a former agency official. “And they know that.”
In 2010, Chinese officials were furious over the success of the CIA in planting assets in the military, intelligence, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and elsewhere. Luckily for the Chinese, they exploited a flaw in the online system CIA operatives used to secretly communicate with their agents—a flaw first identified in Iran, which Tehran likely shared with Beijing.
From 2010 to roughly 2012, Chinese intelligence officials uprooted the CIA’s human source network in China, imprisoning and killing dozens of people. With a vast trove of data at their disposal due to cyberespionage, China was able to hone in the CIA itself and its operatives and exposing them, rendering them useless.