Two separate espionage cases have been opened in California this week, each indicting a sailor for passing military secrets to the People’s Republic of China.
The first case alleges that Jinchao Wei sent national defense information to Chinese intelligence officials while stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Essex in San Diego.
According to the indictment, his intelligence activities first began in February of last year, when he provided information about the Essex, as well as other ships, to a Chinese agent.
The specific information given to the Chinese intelligence official included manuals filled with technical and mechanical details on a variety of Navy ships, such as their damage control, steering, power, flight deck, control, and warning systems. Out of the 30 manuals handed over, the Chinese intelligence officer said that “at least 10 of those manuals were useful to him.”
In June of last year, Wei also began sending photographs of military equipment and of “critical technology” regulated by export control laws. This year, Wei is alleged to have passed blueprints on the Essex to the Chinese agent, including details on mechanical weaknesses experienced by similar ships. Wei was allegedly paid $5,000 for his actions.
Chinese Espionage Continues in California
The second case appears to be unrelated but follows a similar pattern, with the petty officer, Wenheng Zhao, also stationed at a naval base in Southern California. He was approached by a Chinese spy who claimed he was a “maritime economic researcher” needing access to secure information “for investment decisions.” (READ MORE: Is the NBA in Bed With the CCP?)
Making a grand total of $14,866, Zhao passed on information relating to American military exercises in the Indo-Pacific, as well as blueprints for radar systems in Okinawa. His espionage activities allegedly began in August 2021 and lasted until May 2023, or possibly later.
At this stage, the two men have only been indicted and arrested, not prosecuted, so whether the courts find them guilty remains to be seen. The prosecuting attorneys, however, have come down hard on the pair.
“[Zhao] betrayed his sacred oath to protect our country and uphold the Constitution,” U.S. attorney Martin Estrada claimed. “Mr. Zhao chose to corruptly sell out his colleagues and his country.”
Halfway through earning a master’s in national security at the Institute of World Politics, Mason Stauffer is part of The American Spectator’s 2023 intern class. When he isn’t preparing for his future career in the national security sector, Mason can usually be found hiking through the National Park System or playing his trumpet.