Sea Transportation: The Secret Chinese Fleet



p> April 30, 2008: COSCO (China Ocean Shipping Co.) owned the ship that recently tried to deliver a shipment of ammunition to the government of Zimbabwe. COSCO is a $20 billion a year business, owned by the Chinese government, that operates dozens of huge tankers and container transports, as well as ship repair facilities and port operations around the world. It was always understood that COSCO would provide cover for Chinese spy operations, and any "special operations" the Chinese Navy needed help with. However, it appears that COSCO is more into espionage than previously thought. As American counter-terrorism activities increased in out-of-the-way places, they often found that, not only was COSCO already there, but so were plenty of Chinese intelligence personnel, operating under the cover of COSCO employees. It was a near-perfect fit. Port operations are the center of much of what goes into, and comes out of, a country. In many poor countries, the local officials who oversee foreign operators like COSCO can be bribed to look the other way when "special" cargo goes in, or out. COSCO also moves sensitive people, and material, for the Chinese military. It's never been a secret that COSCO works closely with Chinese military and intelligence agencies, but the degree of cooperation has been increasing. COSCO has also been caught smuggling illegal cargos (weapons, hazardous waste, and so on).

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