Two US sailors have been arrested on national security charges related to China, according to the Associated Press (AP). One of the men was assigned to a ship in San Diego and was taken into custody yesterday. The other sailor was arrested at Naval Base Ventura County. His charges included receipt of a bribe from a Chinese official and conspiracy.
Assistant US Attorney General Matt Olsen has stated for the record, at a press conference in San Diego, that because of what they have done,
“Sensitive military info ended up in the hands of the People’s Republic of China.”
The Sailors Identified
The men have been identified as Petty Officer 2nd Class Jinchao “Patrick” Wei and Petty Officer Wenheng Zhao, aged 22 and 26, respectively.
They are both suspected of providing classified information related to national defense to Chinese intelligence officers. The information allegedly included sensitive data about Navy operations, as well as comprehensive technical manuals and blueprints. The investigators believe that the pair used sophisticated methods to conceal their illicit activities, such as encryption and the elimination of conversation records.
Both had access to crucial information, a factor that significantly deepens the gravity of their alleged actions. Over a span of several months, Wei and Zhao are believed to have sold classified information, receiving financial compensation from their Chinese handlers.
If proven guilty, the two could face up to life imprisonment and 20 years in federal prison, respectively.
Let’s Not Forget About the 78-Year-Old American Sentenced To Life In Prison By the Chinese
Just two months ago, an American citizen was sentenced to life in prison by the Chinese for espionage. Little information has been released regarding the charges against John Shing-Wan Leung.
It is no secret that US-China relations have been strained for a number of years. The stealing of trade secrets is one thing but espionage and selling national security information to a hostile foreign power (if that is indeed what happened) is quite another. We have a history of accusing the Chinese of espionage and cyberattacks. For their part, Chinese officials have accused the US of spying on them.
Let’s also not forget about US sanctions on China, their numerous and ongoing human rights violations, their reclaiming of Taiwan, and one other thing…COVID 19.
One thing is certain. This latest incident will ratchet up the tension in an already uncomfortable situation.