China is making fresh economic, military, and political inroads in the United States by the minute. Within the last few months a Chinese spy balloon drifted over our heartland, mesmerizing the media and public; news broke that Beijing has been spying on the United States from Cuba, just 90 miles from the coast of Key West; and Foreign Policy magazine called China’s intelligence onslaught against the West “much worse than you think.”
While these sightings and reports are alarming, in many ways we have been complicit. We openly share our data and information with China when we download and use applications like TikTok. And out of expediency or haste, we fail to properly vet Chinese operatives accessing our secrets in universities, research labs, and factories.
Perhaps most egregious is the threat buzzing just over our heads, piloted by well-intentioned law enforcement and public safety officers: uncrewed aerial systems (UASs), better known as drones.
Our police, sheriffs, and emergency responders fly thousands of missions a day to protect civilians and perform critical tasks such as criminal pursuit, suspect identification, crowd management, investigations, and accident reporting that take precious law enforcement personnel out of harm’s way. But the vast majority of these missions are flown by drones with Chinese hardware and software.
In the United States, more than 92 percent of drones operated by law enforcement are manufactured by Chinese companies that are legally required to work directly with Beijing.