Hard to take an immediate read of the impact on Sino-American relations of the arrest of four people in the U.S. for spying for China. U.S. officials have long said that the Chinese government has been making intense efforts to steal U.S. government and industrial secrets. A steady flow of Chinese-related espionage cases has been made public by the U.S. government in recent years, keeping the issue in the public eye. Reuters has a list here.
These latest two cases seem to be more of the same. In the first, Dongfan “Greg” Chung, a China-born engineer who used to be employed by Boeing and is a naturalized U.S, citizen, was held on suspicion of having stolen trade secrets, including information on the Space Shuttle, the C-17 military transport plane and the Delta-IV rocket, which he is alleged to have sold to China.
In the second case, Tai Shen Kuo and Yu Xin Kang, residents of New Orleans, and Gregg William Bergersen of Alexandria, Virginia, a weapons system policy analyst for a U.S. government agency that manages missile sales to foreign governments, were arrested for passing secret U.S. defense documents to China.
Both sets of arrests were announced by the U.S. government on Monday. Any assessment of how much substantive damage was done to U.S. national security, if any, will have to await court hearings. For now, the China-bashers have a spoon with which to bang on their cages.
No apparent reaction from China yet. Last November, China hits back at a U.S. congressional panel report, calling its claims of trade manipulation and high-tech espionage by Beijing “insulting” and “misleading.” Not that Beijing will want a day in court to prove the point. Just expect some diplomatic tit-for-tat retaliation.