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The FBI stopped the construction of a brand new Chinese garden in Washington in 2017 on suspicion that it was going to be erected for counterintelligence purposes and has blocked other projects in the belief that the use of Huawei technology could capture restricted communications, according to the CNN.
That year, the Chinese government proposed investing $100 million in a garden in the capital with temples, pavilions and a 21-meter white pagoda, which local officials hoped would attract thousands of tourists a year.
But when US counterintelligence agents reviewed the project, they found numerous red flags, CNN reported Sunday.
That pagoda was planned to be erected at one of the highest points in Washington and just 3 kilometers from the Capitol, which according to the sources consulted by the channel was “a perfect place” for the collection of signals.
The chain adds that it also raised the alarm that Chinese officials wanted to build the pagoda with material sent to the country in a diplomatic bag, which customs services cannot examine.
The project was stopped before construction began, but according to CNN it is part of “a dramatic escalation of Chinese espionage on US soil” in the last decade.
Since at least 2017, federal officials “have investigated land purchases near critical infrastructure, shut down a high-profile regional consulate that the US government believed was a hotbed for Chinese spies, and obstructed what they saw as clear efforts to to place listening devices near sensitive military and government installations.”
Telecommunications materials maker Huawei is in the crosshairs, suspected that its equipment atop cell phone towers near military bases in the rural Midwest was capable of “capturing and disrupting highly restricted Department of Communications communications.” defense”.
The Chinese government “strongly” denies any attempt to spy on the United States and Huawei, in a statement sent to CNN, maintains that its equipment is not capable of operating in communications spectrum assigned to that department.
The chain recalls that in 2020 the US Congress approved 1.9 billion dollars to eliminate Chinese-made Huawei and ZTE cellular technology in large swathes of rural areas of the country, but emphasizes that two years later none of this equipment has been withdrawn.
The beginning of the FBI investigation into Huawei equipment near US military installations dates back “at least” to the Barack Obama Administration (2009-2017), but those investigations were so secret that some high-ranking officials of the The White House were not informed of them until 2019, according to CNN.
After the arrival of the also Democrat Joe Biden to power in 2021, the Department of Commerce opened its own investigation into Huawei and, always according to that channel, depending on its results “the US telecommunications operators could be forced to quickly withdraw the Huawei equipment or face fines or other sanctions.”