- Two Chinese diplomats were quietly expelled from the US after breaching a military base in September, according to a report.
- The incident appears to be the first instance of suspected Chinese espionage on US soil in more than 30 years.
- Chinese officials have been trying to access government facilities more often recently in an apparent effort to increase espionage activities.
The US government quietly expelled two Chinese diplomats suspected of spying after they drove onto a sensitive military base in Virginia, the New York Times reported.
The incident, which has been kept secret since it happened in September, is the first time Chinese diplomats have been suspected of espionage on US soil in more than 30 years.
It came after a pair of officials drove the checkpoint for entry to a Virginia military base with their wives in September. A guard, who realized they did not have permission to enter, told them to go through the gate, turn around, and exit. But the officials instead continued to the base, those familiar with the incident told the Times.
Eventually, a fire truck was used to block their path. The Chinese officials claimed they had not understood the guard’s English instructions and had simply become lost, a claim officials were skeptical about.
At least one of the officials is believed to be an intelligence officer, six people with knowledge of the expulsions told the Times.
The incident, which was not announced by Washington or Beijing, underlines concerns within the Trump administration that Chinese officials have stepped up its spying efforts as the pair’s economic rivalry intensified.
Chinese officials carrying diplomatic passports have started showing up at government research facilities with increasing frequency in recent years, the Times reported.
The base Chinese officials tried to access in September was a sensitive unit which houses Special Operations forces and is near the US Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia.
The US is last known to have expelled Chinese diplomats in 1987.