Members of the armed forces claim that in recent years, Chinese spies posing as tourists have regularly tried to get access to military outposts in Alaska.
Troops who spoke with USA Today said that Chinese nationals trying to enter bases like Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks had been stopped on many occasions, and that in at least one case, a drone was discovered during a search of a car that had sped through a checkpoint.
Visitors from other countries often claimed they got disoriented when seeing the attractions of Alaska, the Last Frontier, and the closest United States territory to Russia, North Korea, and China.
When asked about China’s surveillance during a recent visit to the state, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks replied, “We take the safety and security of our people in our installations very seriously”
“We always live with the possibility of intrusion on our installations, and so we work very hard to make sure, working alongside state and local authorities and others, that those bases and installations are protected from threats,” she added. “We take a lot of measures to do that. And we’re going to make sure we can continue to protect our installation so our folks can perform their missions.”
As a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s hostility against Taiwan and aspirations in the South China Sea, ties between the Pacific countries have recently cooled.
Former Air Force General David Deptula told USA Today that if the suspected spies broke into posts like Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage or Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, they could potentially listen in on American military conversations by using sensors they left hidden around the facilities.
After entering American airspace above Alaska in February, a Chinese spy balloon travelled across the country and acquired intelligence from a number of military facilities.
In case of a nuclear assault, the state is stocked with F-22 and F-35 fighter planes, as well as 12,000 troops and 10,000 active-duty Air Force personnel, and radar and missile defense systems.
Each year, the United Kingdom and Australia hold joint war exercises in which they send thousands of additional troops and planes to practice for a possible fight with Russia or China.
Pentagon officer Iris Ferguson, who oversees Arctic and global resilience issues, stated in September that Chinese officials have “been trying to insert themselves into the Arctic.”
“So, we’re being very mindful about their activity and in wanting to ensure that our interests are protected in the region,” she said to the Pentagon’s internal press agency.
On Friday, Sen. Dan Sulivan (R-Alaska) called the report “another wake-up call that we are in a new era of authoritarian aggression led by dictators in China and Russia. It’s also another example of just how important Alaska is for America’s national defense.”
According to FBI Director Christopher Wray, a new investigation involving Chinese espionage is started by the bureau around once every 12 hours.
“There is no doubt that the greatest long-term threat to our nation’s ideas, our economic security and our national security is that posed by the Chinese communist government,” he said in an April speech.