Four persons arrested in Los Angeles are part of a Chinese intelligence-gathering ring, federal investigators said, and the suspects caused serious compromises for 15 years to major U.S. weapons systems, including submarines and warships.
U.S. intelligence and security officials said the case remains under investigation but that it could prove to be among the most damaging spy cases since the 1985 one of John A. Walker Jr., who passed Navy communication codes to Moscow for 22 years.
The Los Angeles spy ring has operated since 1990 and has funneled technology and military secrets to China in the form of documents and computer disks, officials close to the case said.
The ring was led by Chi Mak and his wife, Rebecca Laiwah Chiu, along with Mr. Chi's brother, Tai Wang Mak, and his wife, Fuk Heung Li, officials said.
Key compromises uncovered so far include sensitive data on Aegis battle management systems that are the core of U.S. Navy destroyers and cruisers.
China covertly obtained the Aegis technology and earlier this year deployed its first Aegis warship, code-named Magic Shield, intelligence officials have said.
The Chinese also obtained sensitive data on U.S. submarines, including classified details related to the new Virginia-class attack submarines.
Officials said based on a preliminary assessment, China now will be able to track U.S. submarines, a compromise that potentially could be devastating if the United States enters a conflict with China in defending Taiwan.
Mr. Chi, an electrical engineer, also had access to details on U.S. aircraft carriers and once was aboard the USS Stennis. A Pentagon report made public earlier this year said China's military is building up capabilities to attack U.S. aircraft carriers.
Hang 'em high
Nice to know we've blithely placed our economic future in China's ever lovin' hands.