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Still from ‘The Company Man: Protecting America’s Secrets’ (screenshot via YouTube)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has inspired countless hours of television and cinema, from X-Files to Silence of the Lambs. But, as it turns out, the bureau’s own directing chops aren’t too bad either.

On Thursday, the FBI released a cheesy but surprisingly well-made short film, The Company Man: Protecting America’s Secrets. It tells the true story of Robert Moore, a stressed-out father and engineer who’s worried about paying for his kids’ college tuition when he’s approached by two conniving Chinese businessmen. They offer him $200,000 for his company’s insulation technology secrets, but Moore — made of tougher stuff than he seems — turns down their offer. He tells his bosses, they go to the FBI, and the agency sets up a successful sting operation to catch the crooks.

It follows last year’s Game of Pawns, a half-hour film warning college students about the dangers of being recruited to become Chinese spies while studying abroad. That film tells the true story of Glenn Duffie, who was spending a year in Shanghai when Chinese government agents coerced him into applying for a job at the CIA and becoming a double agent. Duffie, of course, ended up in a federal prison. The movie is enough to scare anyone straight.

If you had no idea the FBI made films, you’re not alone. The concept seems somehow dated, conjuring up memories of Red Scare propaganda from the 1950s and ‘60s. But media has a powerful hold on life in the US, with countless hours being clocked on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. The agency apparently recognizes that.

Both films were directed by Tom Feliu — who was also behind the bureau’s 2011 film Betrayed — and produced by Jan Garvin at the FBI Academy’s Training Development Unit in Quantico,Virginia. According to Creative Planet, the multi-million dollar facility has all the bells and whistles of a Hollywood studio, though a much smaller budget — between $500,000 and $800,000 per year. It seems to do well on that, though. Its YouTube channel is filled with educational and training films, some of them just as slick as Company Man and Game of Pawns.

That the FBI’s biggest budget films have all been directed against Communist China seems to support suspicions that a new Cold War might be brewing. They also reflect a sentiment held by many security analysts that it’s China — not Russia — that poses the biggest threat to US security. Economic espionage, much of it from China, costs the US billions every year. “We’ve had cases, and it’s outlined in the video, where we have people literally walking into warehouses and factories attempting to steal secrets,” said FBI official Randall Coleman in a statement. “It’s actually shocking the lengths they will go to try and steal information.”

Laura C. Mallonee

Laura C. Mallonee is a Brooklyn-based writer. She holds an M.A. in Cultural Reporting and Criticism from NYU and a B.F.A. in painting from Missouri State University. She enjoys exploring new cities and...

5 replies on “Sleek New Short by the FBI Warns of Chinese Espionage”

  1. “It’s actually shocking the lengths they will go to try and steal information.”

    Data theft around the globe drops by over 90% if and when America stops. PRISM alone listens in on ALL phone and fax users around the world, over 5 billion phone records and 2 billion SMS and comparable computer-phone (e.g., SKYPE) records PER DAY. WHAT (actually nothing) assures the world that the thief is not using the data for commercial gains – what else would explain America’s relative success vs. the EU and Japan?

    Mayhap there should be UN sanctions against unauthorized data taking, with any imbalances paid per quarter at $1/Mb. How much do you figure that would add to the American government budget?

    What is good must be universal. Instead of making propaganda movies and starting a new Cold War, how about reining in the data thieves, regardless of nationality?

    1. It was a matter of hours before someone came in with a diatribe on US data collection, even though that isn’t what this film is about. This is like one of those one-star Amazon reviews were the commenter just rants on some peripheral subject, not having read the book.

      1. Why isn’t what this is about? Theft is theft. America has no high horse to sit on, when it steals 100 times more data than China. If the dastardly acts are to stop, everyone stops. Just say when.

        1. The reality is that no side will stop. They may pretend to, but don’t count on it actually happening. I don’t mention any particular countries because almost any country that has the means will use it. Some governments may be marginally less involved but the difference will not be that much. When technology provides an opportunity someone will use it.

  2. IF the alleged theft is so very effective and prevalent, China should have a nominal GDP larger than that of America?

    Just don’t see it. Instead, everyone KNOWS that America takes data without permission around the globe, and the objective fact is that American business enterprises still are the tops in most high tech industries. Add 1 and 1 together and derive your own conclusions.

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