Discerning a Pattern in Chinese Espionage: An Analysis of Chinese Espionage Methodology Contrasted Against Cases of Chinese Espionage

Date of Graduation

Spring 2007


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Bradley Thayer


The purpose of this thesis is to study the patterns in Chinese espionage against the United States. The increasing strength of the People's Replublic of China (PRC) represents an acute threat to the security of the United States. Its economic might makes it a player in the international arena. Its growing energy demands are forcing it to extend its strategic alliances to countries in the United States' backyard. Its growing rhetoric regarding a forceful reunification with Taiwan is exasperating security concerns among U.S allies in the region. Its extensive military and information technology modernization requires the acquisition of technologies not readily available. These points are the primary factors that push the PRC to use espionage against the United States. The main approach used to study this topic was to investiage PRC intelligence methodology and the specific goals of PRC military and information technology modernization against case studies of successful and attempted PRC espionage. In doing so, a very distinct pattern in espionage activities emerged: One, the collector of information is more than likely to be Chinese or Chinese-American. Two, PRC scientists are the most effective means for acquiring information. Three, the PRC uses deception in the form of front companies to acquire information and technologies from unknowing individuals and legitimate companies. Four, the PRC prefers to use methods of Active Collection concurrent with Direct Transmission Channels. Five, open source collection is a major source of information for the PRC; more so than classified information. Six, and finally, the MSS often co-opts Chinese travelers, especially businesspeople, scientists and academics, to gather intelligence or purchase technology while they're in America.


espionage, PRC, China, intelligence, PLA modernization

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Michael J. Schwartz