- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 26, 2000

China's government is engaged in large-scale science and technology spying targeted primarily on gaining U.S. defense secrets for military use, according to a translated Chinese government manual.

The spying handbook was obtained by the Pentagon earlier this year and reveals how Beijing gathers defense intelligence and has been doing so aggressively for more than 30 years.

"A common saying has it that there are no walls which completely block the wind, nor is absolute secrecy achievable," the book by two Chinese intelligence specialists states.

"And invariably there will be numerous open situations in which things are revealed, either in tangible or intangible form. By picking here and there among the vast amount of public materials and accumulating information a drop at a time, often it is possible to basically reveal the outlines of some secret intelligence, and this is particularly true in the case of Western countries. Through probability analysis, in foreign countries it is believed that 80 percent or more of intelligence can be gotten through public materials."

The 250-page book, "Sources and Techniques of Obtaining National Defense Science and Technology Intelligence," is not classified. However, Pentagon officials said its contents provide new insights on how China's government obtains secrets and technology.

The book was written by Huo Zhongwen and Wang Zongxiao, 30-year spy veterans who now teach intelligence at the China National Defense, Science and Technology Information Center (DSTIC) in Beijing.

The center coordinates sharing of technology from some 4,000 Chinese intelligence organizations.

"The Chinese do not spy as God intended it," said Paul Moore, a former FBI intelligence analyst who specialized in Beijing spying activities.

China uses a variety of collectors students, business people, scientists or visitors abroad instead of relying on professional intelligence officers working for the Ministry of State Security or the People's Liberation Army Second Department, he said.

Most often, Beijing's intelligence services do not pay cash for secrets and expect people friendly to the Communist government, many of whom are ethnic Chinese, to provide it free of charge, Mr. Moore said during a recent speech.

The book describes Chinese information-gathering as a science.

"Consider information piece by piece; place an excessive, one-sided emphasis on the absolute amount of the information collected; gauge the quality of collection work solely on the basis of the amount of information collected," it states.

The book contradicts official Chinese claims that its high-technology weapons development is indigenous.

Beijing has dismissed U.S. government charges that its nuclear weapons modernization program is based on stolen U.S. nuclear weapons technology, most obtained from U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories.

According to the spying manual, more than 80 percent of all Chinese spying focuses on open-source material obtained from government and private-sector information. The remaining 20 percent is gathered through illicit means, including eliciting information from scientists at meetings, through documents supplied by agents or through electronic eavesdropping.

Through negligence on the part of security review personnel, valuable secrets can be obtained.

The book states that a "Top Secret" scientific report known as "UCRL-4725 Weapons Development, June 1956" was mistakenly declassified by Los Alamos National Laboratory. It became the basis for Progressive magazine's 1979 article on the development of a hydrogen bomb.

"This incident tells us that, on one hand, absolute secrecy is not attainable, while on the other hand, there is a random element involved in the discovery of secret intelligence sources, and to turn this randomness into inevitability, it is necessary that there be those who monitor some sectors and areas with regularity and vigilance," the book states.

Among the best sources for national defense intelligence material, the book lists publications from Congress, the National Defense Technical Information Center and the National Technical Information Service.

As for numerous reports produced by the Energy Department, the Chinese view them as "a source of intelligence of great value."

Regarding clandestine spying, the report states: "It is also necessary to stress that there is still 20 percent or less of our intelligence that must come through the collection of information using special means, such as reconnaissance satellites, electronic eavesdropping and the activities of special agents purchasing or stealing, etc."

Through direct contacts with scientists and other spying targets, the report states that "this is the procedure commonly used for collecting verbal information, but it is not limited to verbal communications. Participation in consultative activities is also a person-to-person exchange procedure for collecting information."

The information is gathered from people and institutions, including government agencies, research offices, corporate enterprises, colleges and universities, libraries, and information offices.

A report produced by the National Counterintelligence Center, an interagency group based at CIA headquarters, called the Chinese military and defense industry's use of unclassified information "one of the most startling revelations" of the book.

The two-part report, issued in the center's June and September newsletters, suggests the release of the spying manual, first reported by Far Eastern Economic Review magazine, may have been a mistake on the part of the secretive Chinese national security bureaucracy.

A second theory is that "China's commitment to expropriating foreign technology is so much a part of its [research and development] culture that the book's authors simply took acceptance of this behavior for granted," the report said.

The report described the book as extraordinary "detailed proof" of China's efforts to obtain foreign defense technology "by the people who helped build China's worldwide intelligence network."

"Incredible as it seems, this frank account of China's long-standing program to siphon off Western military science and technology, written as a textbook for PRC intelligence officers, was sold openly in China for years," the report said. "But you will not find the book in any bookstore or Chinese library today."

The book "represents the first public acknowledgment by PRC officials of China's program to collect secret and proprietary information on foreign military hardware, especially that of the United States," the report said.

Chinese defense technology spying increased during the 1960s when the People's Republic of China (PRC) developed its nuclear arsenal and then fell during the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution when collected research material was put in warehouses and "consumed by mice instead of humans," the book said.

Since 1978, high-technology spying grew sharply under China's national development plan.

I.C. Smith, a retired FBI agent who specialized in Chinese spying, said the FBI severely curtailed its counterspy efforts Chinese counterspying in particular during the Clinton administration.

"The shortsighted view of the PRC, a view held by those with little intellectual capacity for counterintelligence, is that China doesn't pose a threat," Mr. Smith said in an interview. "After all, they aren't out there making dead drops, communicating via shortwave radio, paying cash concealed in hollow rocks, et cetera, as is the expected norm for the spy business."

"This view became dominant in the FBI and even to a large extent, the intelligence community, and this resulted in the FBI essentially de-emphasizing counterintelligence, in general, and the China [counterintelligence] program, in particular. This led directly to the debacle of the Wen Ho Lee investigation," Mr. Smith said.

Lee, the Los Alamos nuclear-weapons designer, was suspected of passing nuclear warhead secrets to China. Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to lesser charges of mishandling classified data on computer tapes that are missing and agreed to tell what he knew to the FBI.

As part of the Lee investigation, FBI agents recently dug up computer tapes from a Los Alamos landfill, but later determined the tapes did not contain the secrets Lee took from the laboratory.

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