American authorities have seemed surprised that their Chinese counterparts have exploited what appeared to be a very friendly relationship that was calculated to be a special benefit to Beijing. This has been particularly true when it comes to the field of intelligence – what a surprise!
Washington was shocked by the fact that the Chinese government did not quickly inform the rest of the world of the danger of COVID-19. Even today, there are those in American political life who willfully accept the duplicitous explanations passed on by the Chinese media and governmental sources. Not to mention strong Chinese influence of the U.S. media. That’s how far the cover operation of the CCP’s intelligence community has succeeded in its operations.
The field of Chinese technical intelligence has been even more effective in its efforts to penetrate U.S strategic and tactical intel. It seems hard to believe, but the Chinese have been very successful in putting together bits of information from various government contractors adding up to significant penetration when all the pieces are put together. Their acquisition methodology has been simple: Be helpful, be cooperative, and above all be careful not to divulge essential elements of their own progress. It might be called “the nice guy ploy.”
Of course, this may all seem obvious now, but on and off during the past decade, it’s been rather effective. The interesting thing is that the same “let us try and be friends” has been the same diplomatic ploy used by the former Obama Administration and then even more aggressively employed by the Trump presidency. The fact is that each administration had its own method of appearing cooperative. It is just that the Chinese played its game far better. Of course, China was not alone in the “good guy” characterizations, but Beijing has elevated it to an art form. It seemed as if Washington loved being duped.
Part of the reason for the Chinese success is the role private business plays in inter-governmental activities. The public doesn’t realize it, but private entrepreneurs and companies often act as bridges between officials of foreign governments. There is no immediate payment involved, but it does build up a “goodwill” bank account. One reason these connections are so important is that “financial advantages” can be passed on far more discreetly through private mediums. You want a deal? Take care of the minister in charge or his intermediary. It’s certainly not new. In one form or another, it’s been going on like this for centuries.
The difference in dealing with the Chinese is that they have placed the entire operational technique in a very carefully controlled professional environment. Let’s just say they are very good at sighting and exploiting vulnerabilities. Equally important, they are excellent at creating effective cover stories and intermediaries (cut-outs).
Donald Trump himself is a great believer in creating mutually beneficial friendships with world leaders. He truly believes he can be friends with any leader – if he can find out what the other side wants. President Trump thinks in business terms and, importantly, believes so do his counterparts. While Xi Jinping is capable of giving the appearance of a business negotiator, his background and training stem from political-military communist dynasties Their interests are ultimately contrary to any perceived opposition. Reagan said, “Trust, but verify!” That was the diplomatic way of employing the need always to be on guard when dealing with any communist nation.
The fact is that China is politically and physically armed to ensure its dominance. Pleasant manners are simply part of that armament.