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Area Businesses Increasingly Partnering With FBI To Tamp Down Chinese Espionage Threat

USA flag in foreground, FBI logo in shape of the state of Ohio in background on a tan wall.
Ann Thompson

The FBI says it is investigating thousands of cases in each of its 56 offices, including Cincinnati, where the Chinese government is accused of stealing secrets.

With the threat of Chinese espionage not going away, the FBI is seeing an increase in the number of companies concerned they will become a target.

Pre-pandemic, the FBI’s Cincinnati Office put out a call to businesses to partner with the agency.

Businesses have headed that call.

“We are definitely seeing that we have more partnerships than we’ve ever had before,” says FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dan Leepe,r who oversees the national security branch at the Cincinnati Office.

Just in the last couple of years there have been two high profile espionage cases in Ohio. This year a couple was sentenced in a case involving Nationwide Hospital in Columbus. In 2018, the FBI arrested a suspect who tried to infiltrate GE Aviation.

In fact, Leeper says the FBI has thousands of current cases involving Chinese espionage in each of its 56 field offices, including Cincinnati.

“China has an ambitious and highly coordinated plan to become the world’s economic and most technologically advanced power,” says Leeper. “It needs to steal research and innovation to modernize its military and to rapidly grow the Chinese economy. “

The FBI provides best practices and security protocols help to its partners. In some cases, if companies aren’t proactive, the agency identifies vulnerable ones and contacts them.

Leeper says the Chinese government is interested in more than you might think - everything from agricultural advancements to biomedical research to pharma development, computer technology and much more.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.