A former chief of counterintelligence with the CIA is warning the Chinese government has accelerated its spy recruitment efforts — and is targeting New York City.
According to the New York Post, ex-CIA insider James Olson "conservatively" estimates China has more than 100 intelligence officers operating in New York City at any given time.
"Their spy program is massive," Olson told the outlet. "They aggressively mine social media and look for Chinese-Americans who have affection for Mother China."
The assessment comes after the arrest of NYPD Officer Baimadajie Angwang, a nationalized U.S. citizen of Tibetan descent, for allegedly acting as a spy for China.
"Police, military, counterintelligence are very big targets," Olson told the Post.
"The Chinese would have great interest in somebody with the NYPD who can get records, provide traces, find out who is under investigation. They probably had a tip-off and found a way to cozy up."
Olson told the news outlet those roped into the scheming "are convinced that what they are doing will not be harmful to U.S. interests — even though, of course, it is."
"China has multiple spies working on a particular project. So [an agent] may be getting small pieces of information, which seem inconsequential, but are part of a larger plan," he added.
Olson told the outlet Angwang might allegedly have been used to "find out what the NYPD is doing in terms of surveillance, the databases they have, what they are learning about China's UN representatives and consulate officials."
According to information from wiretaps, Angwang told one of his handlers about taking an NYPD exam that could lead to a promotion, saying he was doing it "for the people back home."
"If you have family in China" — as Angwang does, including two parents who reportedly belong to the Communist Party — "they will use that as leverage. Family members can be granted favors or not. It's a rough game," Olson said. "They figure out what kind of assistance you need, whether it be visas so you can see your family, scholarships, money."
But now, China will not come to his rescue, Olson told the news outlet.
"He's been abandoned, but this is the cost of doing business," Olson told the Post.
"The Chinese have so many assets in the United States that they can afford to lose a few."
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