Report: U.S. intelligence can’t match China’s on summit prep

by WorldTribune Staff, November 8, 2017

Analysts for a special intelligence unit of the Chinese government worked around the clock to compile information on U.S. President Donald Trump that can be used by Chinese President Xi Jinping during Trump’s first visit to China.

President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan tour the Forbidden City in Beijing on Nov. 8. / AP

The unit, code-named Skyheart, consists of some 350 officials who work at a secret facility in western Beijing called Western Hills, site of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) general staff headquarters where China’s underground nuclear command and control complex is based, Bill Gertz reported for the Washington Free Beacon on Nov. 8, citing a person familiar with the operation.

Skyheart operatives gathered information on everything from the kind of food the American president likes to the brand names of products he prefers and the television shows he watches, the report said.

“No detail is too small to be gathered,” said the person familiar with Skyheart.

Ken deGraffenreid, former deputy national counterintelligence executive, told Free Beacon that the Chinese use such programs to manipulate high level U.S. officials during visits and negotiations.

“The Chinese try to get everything they can, where someone lives, who [are] their friends. They’re trying to find personal strengths and weaknesses,” he said

By contrast, the CIA’s operations directorate produces inferior leadership profiles in their level of detail, he said.

Most of the best U.S. intelligence on Chinese leaders comes from National Security Agency electronic intercepts, Gertz wrote.

“They use implication. The technique is that ‘We know more about you than you realize.’ It can be used as an intimidation tactic,” deGraffenreid said.

He said the Chinese will likely press Trump to return dissident billionaire Guo Wengui, who gone public in the U.S. via social media on high-level Chinese leadership corruption which may have forced the exit of Xi Jinping “corruption czar” Wang Qishan from the Chinese Communist Party’s Standing Committee of the Politburo, reported.

“They are going to put the arm on Trump for the U.S. to return that guy.”

The analysts have also been closely scrutinizing Trump’s Twitter feed.

Twitter is blocked across the Chinese mainland along with other social media outlets including Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Asked by reporters onboard Air Force One whether this meant Trump would refrain from tweeting to his 42 million followers during his two-night stay in China, a senior White House official said: “No. The president will tweet whatever he wants. That’s his way of communicating directly with the American people. Why not?”

Chinese security services “will be engaged in massive electronic surveillance during the visit by the president and First Lady Melania Trump, along with the group of White House and administration officials and corporate business leaders,” Gertz wrote in his report.

U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster said last week that Trump’s tour of Asia this week would “focus on three goals: first, strengthening international resolve to denuclearize North Korea; second, promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region; third, advance American prosperity through fair and reciprocal trade and economic practices.”

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