The U.S. State Department is planning to significantly reduce the number of Chinese diplomats in the United States to match the number of American diplomats in China. The announcement is expected in the coming days this, according to The Washington Times.
The decision seeks to reduce the burden on FBI counterintelligence agents who currently have some 2,000 special agents dedicated to catching Chinese spies and their assistants.
According to data recently revealed by Director of the FBI Christopher Wray there are at least 5,000 active counterintelligence cases in the United States and half of them are related to China.
The decision comes at a time of diplomatic tension between the two powers with the closure of the Chinese Consulate in Houston and the response of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with the closure of the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu.
It is worth mentioning the contrast between the two decisions: the closure of the Chinese Consulate in Houston was a response to the spying activity registered there, while the American Consulate in Chengdu was merely a retaliation by the CCP.
The total number of Chinese diplomats in the United States is not available, but it is known that only in the Chinese embassy in Washington, there are 245 diplomatic attachés, while it is estimated that American diplomats in China total 200 among the consulates in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang and Wuhan.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in his speech in California that what they seek with these measures is reciprocity and fairness in their relations with Beijing in a variety of sectors.
For example, Chinese diplomats in the United States have access to all facets of a free society—they can access practically all sectors with very few restrictions.
“In China, American consular mission officials had no direct access anywhere in local government, academia, churches, social or labor organizations, news or propaganda organs,” said John Tkacik, a former State Department official. Meetings with Chinese businesses also are subject to veto by the Provincial Foreign Affairs Office.
In response to the unfair treatment, as of October last year, Chinese diplomats must notify the State Department of their meetings with government officials, although this does not imply any real restriction.
“Our goal is to get the Chinese [CCP] authorities to allow our diplomats in China to engage with provincial and local leaders, Chinese universities, and other educational and research institutes freely, the same way that the Chinese diplomats are able to do here,” the official said.
According to an Axios article interviewed by a former U.S. intelligence officer, the Chinese consulates in New York and especially San Francisco are the CCP’s main spying hubs for intellectual property theft because of the large corporations that Silicon Valley houses—Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others.
However, the CCP not only uses its consulates as spy hubs for intellectual property theft, but also to persecute Chinese dissidents living in the United States, a practice the FBI is trying to eradicate through Operation Fox Hunt, according to a statement by Wray at the Hudson Institute.
The Western world’s approach to the Chinese Communist Party over the past three decades has been counterproductive. With the idea that by letting the CCP access free markets, bringing business to China, showing them what the world is like in a democracy and actually letting it chair the U.N. Security Counsel, the Chinese Communist Party was going to change, it has only turned it into a monster that, until President Trump woke up, was eating up the whole world.