Chinese intelligence spends years spying on Californian officials

On December 8, 2020, Axios reported that from 2011 to 2015, Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) operative Christine Fang had been collecting unclassified information about Californian officials through campaign fundraising, extensive networking, personal charisma, and romantic or sexual relationships. Her aim was to gather intelligence and influence up-and-coming U.S. politicians on China-related issues. One of the most significant targets of Fang’s efforts was Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell, helping him fundraise for his 2014 campaign. California is a highly strategic state due to the national influence its lawmakers derive from the state’s economic and technologic weight. The MSS has a unit dedicated to political intelligence and influence operations in the state. U.S. officials first noticed Fang through surveillance they were conducting on a suspected MSS officer working undercover as a diplomat in the San Francisco consulate. Fang unexpectedly left the country in mid-2015 as the investigation was under way.

About This Incident

Threat Actors: China

Incident Metadata

Date: 2011-2015
Country: United States