According to U.S. officials, there have been several instances in recent years where Chinese citizens, disguised as tourists, have been suspected of espionage as they attempted to gain access to military facilities in this vast state, home to numerous sensitive bases.
In a specific incident recounted by several soldiers to USA TODAY, a group of Chinese citizens in a vehicle disregarded a security checkpoint at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks.
Eventually, the vehicle was stopped, and a drone was discovered upon searching it. The individuals inside the vehicle claimed to be tourists who had simply become lost.
Multiple soldiers, who were familiar with these incidents but not authorized to speak publicly, acknowledged their probing nature.
As one Army officer pointed out, not all individuals who appear to be tourists in Alaska are indeed tourists; some are foreign spies.
Regarding intrusions on U.S. military bases, a significant worry pertains to what is left behind rather than just the photographs taken, stated David Deptula, a retired three-star Air Force general who previously served as the senior officer for intelligence.
Deptula, now the dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Power Studies, suggested that spies could plant sensors capable of intercepting sensitive communications.
Most of the information regarding the incidents is classified. Still, some insights are provided through military briefings and publicly accessible data, revealing the reasons behind the Chinese government’s intrigue in Alaska.
This curiosity is primarily driven by the Pentagon’s advanced military assets and high-level regional war games.
When questioned about the suspected Chinese espionage activities at military installations in Alaska, Kathleen Hicks, the second-ranking official at the Pentagon, refrained from making detailed comments.
However, she emphasized that the military is implementing various measures to ensure the security of these bases without going into specific details.
FBI Director Christopher Wray consistently raises concerns about espionage sponsored by the Chinese government, holding Communist leaders responsible.
Wray has approximated that the FBI initiates a new investigation into Chinese government-sponsored espionage every 12 hours.
Efforts to obtain a comment from the Chinese Embassy in Washington through emails and phone calls went unanswered.