The FBI, CIA and other intelligence agencies are not permitted to consider Chinese Americans as a greater security threat despite their targeting by China’s intelligence service for recruitment, according to a report made public Tuesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
“While continuing to combat the significant national security threat posed by the [People’s Republic of China], IC agencies and components must ensure that their intelligence activities and security clearance processes protect the privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights of Americans of Chinese descent and all other Americans,” the report concludes.
The report appears to be based on unfounded allegations of Chinese American racism by intelligence and security agencies.
The 22-page report was required by a provision of the fiscal 2020 Defense Authorization Act that sought a study on how spy agencies’ operations targeting China affect the privacy and civil liberties of Chinese Americans.
That law states that “the People’s Republic of China (PRC) appears to be specifically targeting the Chinese American community for intelligence purposes.”
Aggressive Chinese spy recruitments carry “a substantial risk” that the loyalty of Chinese Americans may be questioned and lead to stereotyping and racial profiling, the law said.
“The broad stereotyping, targeting, and racial profiling of Americans of Chinese descent is contrary to the values of the United States and reinforces the flawed narrative perpetuated by the People’s Republic of China that ethnically Chinese individuals worldwide have a duty to support the People’s Republic of China,” the law said.
All U.S. efforts to combat Chinese intelligence activities should include safeguards for protecting Chinese Americans’ constitutional rights, the DNI report said.
The report states that intelligence agencies concluded in a February threat assessment that the Chinese Communist Party “will work to … undercut U.S. influence, drive wedges between Washington and its partners, and foster some norms that favor its authoritarian system.”
China is continuing to expand its “global intelligence and covert influence posture to better support the CCP’s political, economic, and security goals, increasingly challenging U.S. influence.”
However, the DNI report said intelligence agency assessments found China promotes the false narrative that people of Chinese descent owe allegiance to China “neither race nor ethnicity is the primary criterion utilized by the PRC’s intelligence services in their recruitment of intelligence assets.”
A key part of the effort is an aggressive human intelligence collection program and the report notes that the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government “pose these national security threats, however, not the people of China and emphatically not Americans of Chinese descent,” the DNI report said.
To make sure Chinese Americans are not unfairly targeted in intelligence and counterspying operations, the DNI report calls for increased training for what it called “unconscious bias and cultural competency training” for agency personnel involved in intelligence collection and the security clearance process.
The report found that many Chinese Americans have no contact with China, while others “have family or financial interests in China that present acceptably low risks.”
Legal travel to China “has presented PRC intelligence services with opportunities for recruitment and handling, and such PRC intelligence activities have focused on U.S. business persons, retired U.S. government officials, students, academics, scientists and tourists, regardless of race or ethnicity.”
During the Trump administration, the Justice Department launched its China initiative that targeted illegal and illicit Chinese intelligence operations.
Scores of Chinese nationals and numerous Chinese Americans were prosecuted for spying and technology theft-related activities.
The Biden administration announced earlier this year it was scaling back the initiative after some Chinese Americans charged the program was racially biased.