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China's intelligence service gained access to a secret National Security Agency listening post in Hawaii through a Chinese-language translation service, according to U.S. intelligence officials.
According to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, China's Ministry of State Security, the main civilian spy service, carried out the operations by setting up a Chinese translation service in Hawaii that represented itself as a U.S.-origin company.
I.C. Smith, a former FBI special agent, said both China's civilian MSS and military spy service, known as "2 PLA" for the Second Department of the Chinese military, are targeting NSA.
"There can be no higher target for an intelligence service, and that includes China's MSS and 2 PLA, than gaining access to an adversaries' codes and electronic intelligence," he said, because it is the ultimate in "foreknowledge" advocated by ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu.
Getting U.S. electronic intelligence and codes would give China specific information on what is known and allow Beijing to take defensive measures "based on knowledge, not supposition," Mr. Smith said, adding that "it also allows for disinformation to be done with confidence and it basically gives the intelligence service every advantage over the enemy."