Chinese spies: Timeline and Takeaways

Rep. Eric Swalwell was reportedly unwittingly contacted by an alleged Chinese spy

From 2011 to 2015, a suspected female Chinese spy, “Fang” Fang, cultivated extensive ties with local and national politicians, including U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Calif).

Over three years, Fang reportedly had romantic relationships or sex with at least two Midwestern mayors, including at least one in Ohio. Rep. Swalwell has not disclosed details of his relationship with Fang.


It’s unclear why intelligence sources are now leaking information about the alleged spy operation.

Sources leaking information are apparently being evasive about the date the FBI privately gave “defensive briefings” to Rep. Swalwell and then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). 

The original news report by Axios stated that FBI gave the briefings to Rep. Swalwell, Rep. Pelosi, and others “around 2015.” However, Rep. Swalwell acknowledged in a subsequent interview that the FBI contacted him earlier, in late 2014. 

The 2014 timeline would mean that Rep. Swalwell, Rep. Pelosi, the U.S. intelligence community and the Communist Chinese knew of Rep. Swalwell’s suspected spy contacts, but chose to not reveal them to the public. 

Shortly thereafter, Rep. Pelosi assigned Rep. Swalwell to a coveted and sensitive spot on the House Intelligence Committee. Rep. Pelosi also gave Swalwell the Democrats’ top spot on the Central Intelligence Agency Subcommittee, where Rep. Swalwell would serve as a point man for the intelligence community’s false narrative that Trump and his associates were Russian spies.

The FBI had recently also informed then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) that her staffer of 20 years was a Chinese spy, according to later reports; but neither Sen. Feinstein nor the FBI informed the public at the time. The FBI is said to have concluded the spy did not steal important information and the person was allowed to quietly retire.

The intelligence community’s approach to Rep. Swalwell and Sen. Feinstein is in stark contrast to the FBI’s treatment of the Trump campaign. Intel officials informed Rep. Swalwell and Sen. Feinstein of their contacts with suspected spies, did not investigate or attempt to prosecute Rep. Swalwell or Sen Feinstein, and kept the whole scandal quiet. However, when it came to Trump and his associates, intel officials declined to alert or question them about Russians supposedly bent on compromising them. Instead, the intelligence agencies targeted Trump and his associates, as if criminals, and leaked information implicating them— some of it false— to the news media. Then, the Department of Justice prosecuted numerous  Trump associates for unrelated alleged crimes.


When intel officials inform members of Congress about their contacts with suspected spies, but keep it secret from the public, could bad intel actors use the information as leverage against the public officials, who serve on committees making important decisions on oversight of the intelligence community?


The following timeline is based on events and allegations as reported by the media. All of those who had contacts with alleged Chinese spies say they do not remember the contacts or were unaware the subjects were spies, and did not do anything wrong.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) hires a staffer who is allegedly secretly recruited at some point by Communist China.


Alleged Chinese spy “Fang” Fang enrolls at California State University East Bay. She serves as president of the Chinese Student Association and president of the school’s Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA) chapter.

Democrat Eric Swalwell files to run for Congress.


News articles state that Swalwell is divorced from an unnamed wife “by 2012.”

Swalwell meets Fang. Fang becomes a high value “bundler” fundraiser for Swalwell and other candidates. She recommends interns for Swalwell’s Washington D.C. office, successfully placing one of them. 

November 2012:

Swalwell is elected to Congress.


Fang reportedly helps with a fundraiser for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) who later runs for president.

The FBI reportedly secretly tells Sen. Diane Feinstein that the Chinese have recruited a staffer she’s employed for 20 years. Feinstein is Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. The staffer is allowed to retire. Robert Mueller is FBI Director.

March 2013:

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper gives false testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee led by Sen. Feinstein. Clapper denies the existence of mass surveillance of U.S. citizens. When his testimony is revealed as untrue, there are calls within Congress for Clapper to be prosecuted for perjury and/or resign. They are soon dropped.

Sept. 4, 2013:

James Comey becomes FBI Director.


Fang reportedly attends two mayor-focused events in Washington D.C. During one of the events in March, a Midwestern mayor is reportedly heard referring to Fang as his “girlfriend.” Fang is also photographed at the Chinese Embassy with Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif) and San Jose city councilmember Ash Kalra, a Democrat who was later elected to the California State Assembly in 2016.

Fang also reportedly has a sexual encounter with an Ohio mayor in a car under electronic FBI surveillance.


Fang reportedly takes part in fundraising activities for Rep. Swalwell’s re-election campaign.

Fang volunteers for Democrat Ro Khanna’s unsuccessful 2014 House bid. Khanna is later elected to the House in 2016.

March 2014:

The CIA gets caught spying on Senate Intelligence Committee staff computers to thwart an investigation into the CIA. CIA Director John Brennan initially denies it, then admits it when the spying is revealed in an Inspector General report. Though there are calls for Brennan’s resignation, the Obama administration defends him, and Intelligence Committee Chairman Feinstein forgives him.

November 2014:

Rep. Swalwell wins a second term in Congress.

Somewhere around this time period, according to a later public interview by Rep. Swalwell, the FBI communicates with him about Fang. Rep. Swalwell says he cuts off his relationship with Fang at this time.

“Senior U.S. intelligence officials” reportedly “provide multiple defensive briefings” to Obama White House officials, then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) and “targeted local and national politicians about Fang’s connections to Chinese intelligence and potential Chinese assets in their offices.” The public is not told, and it does not leak to the press.

Jan. 24, 2015:

Despite Rep. Swalwell’s recent relationship with an alleged Chinese spy, Rep. Nancy Pelosi announces she’s promoting Rep. Swalwell to a spot on the sensitive and coveted House Intelligence Committee. Rep. Swalwell also becomes ranking member of its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Subcommittee.

June 2, 2015:

Fang is scheduled to attend an event in Washington D.C., but on a date somewhere around this time, she is allowed to leave the country.

June 16, 2015:

Donald Trump announces his candidacy for president.

August 2015:

The FBI reportedly contacts Democrat Bill Harrison about Fang, a volunteer in his office.

October 2016:

Swalwell marries his second wife.

November 2016:

Donald Trump is elected president.


Rep. Nancy Pelosi says Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions should resign for not publicly disclosing two “incidental” meetings he had with Russia’s U.S. ambassador over time.

May 9, 2017:

FBI Director James Comey is fired.

May 17, 2017:

Former FBI Director Mueller is appointed as Special Counsel to investigate Trump-Russia spy accusations. Two years later, he would report that neither Trump, his associates, or any Americans colluded with Russia.

Jan. 18, 2019:

Swalwell falsely implicates President Trump is a Russian spy and criticizes Trump’s son’s “meeting with a Russian spy” in January 2019. 

April 8, 2019:

Rep. Swalwell announces he’s running for president.

May 2019:

FBI creates a unit dedicated to countering Chinese spies at the state and local levels.

July 2019:

Rep. Swalwell reportedly first becomes aware that the website Axios is looking into the Fang story. Rep. Swalwell drops out of the presidential race. Axios would not report the story until after the election 17 months later.

July 2020:

FBI director Chris Wray says China “is engaged in a highly sophisticated malign foreign influence campaign” involving “subversive, undeclared, criminal, or coercive attempts to sway our government’s policies, distort our country’s public discourse, and undermine confidence in our democratic processes and values.”

Dec. 18, 2020:

Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy receives what he says is his first FBI briefing on the topic after numerous cancellations by the FBI. Rep. McCarthy says Rep. Pelosi’s previous statements that he was briefed back when she was—are false.

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26 thoughts on “Chinese spies: Timeline and Takeaways”

  1. It’s an absolute shame the position that the United States has allowed itself to get into, I hate saying it but if we end up going dark one day over our electric grid being compromised and then mass panic and chaos sets in if we end up with nuclear explosions in this country one can only say it’s our own fault for allowing such rhino Republicans and Democrats that have been elected that have absolutely no America first in their heart rather just the opposite.

  2. When will the ppl wake up. Washington is absolutely corrupt. We the ppl are going to suffer the consequences for there miss deeds.

  3. It seems we either do not have competent people in the justice department and intelligence agencies or they are turning a blind eye to these security breaches.

  4. There’s enough evidence to take care of those traitors to the full extent of the law!! I don’t understand what the holdup, they should be prosecuted, and not aloud to collect their paychecks or benefits.. they should be treated the same as anyone else that commits treasonous acts against America and it’s citizens..

  5. It is exhausting to think about the level of deceit that is becoming evident in the FBI, and by extension the DoJ. And the CIA seems like it has been allowed to go rougue. But I can’t believe that all who work in these agencies are corrupt. The problem is, how do you tell the difference between honest public servant and malign actor? It seems the ‘good guy’ never wins, and those in control of these agencies are always corrupted in some way. I can accept that we never know the full backstory, but the idea that our government is always working on our behalf is dead. Very disheartening.

    1. I agree, it is sad that we cannot have confidence that these people are acting in the best interest of our country… it seems like the hierarchy are acting in their self interest and they don’t give a darn about our country! What makes me the most angry is these self centered jerks create wars for our kids to go fight and really could care less for the blood shed to keep them in power!

    2. “I can’t believe that all who work in these agencies are corrupt.” They aren’t — they are manipulated. It’s called “compartimentilization.” Only the guys at the top know the full picture of what is being done, and they compartimentalize the operation so that each field agent only knows his or her little part of the operation and are given a false narrative of what the whole operation is, so they think that they are actually serving the best interest of the country when they are really not.

  6. Since when did being a Senator, give you the God like ability to “forgive” a Chinese spy in their employment and let them go their way or retire???

  7. This all reads like the next James Bond movie! Art and Life aren’t just imitating one another you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. I don’t care how conspiracy theory this sounds; but the Deep State is more like a Black Hole of Abuse and Corruption of Power! Between the Media. Tech Oligarchs, Progressives and Rogue Agencies, Power has been corrupted absolutely! Where do we go from here? It’s not enough to Drain the Swamp unless your prepared to fight the Swamp Monsters!

  8. When Iowa officials certified the results of the November election, Republican House candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks defeated Democrat Rita Hart by six votes out of 394,000 ballots cast. The margin of victory was one of the slimmest in history: 0.0015 percentage points.
    “The issue relating to Iowa is an issue for the House Administration Committee,” House speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference earlier this month. The “House decides who it will seat.”

    As a constitutional matter, Pelosi was correct. The Constitution says that “each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members.” The most recent historical precedent for the House’s overturning the results of a certified election occurred in 1985. After an Indiana Republican candidate was certified the winner of the 1984 election, House Democrats had the General Accounting Office conduct their own recount, which they said showed Democratic incumbent Frank McCloskey winning by four votes. Outraged House Republicans staged a walkout when McCloskey was seated.

  9. There’s not the slightest doubt in my mind that Pelosi knew Swalwell was comprised by the Chi-Coms. And she didn’t care.

  10. The answer to the question of the article is,, Uh,, Duh? The real question is, “How the FBI has let so many traitors in seats of great power for so long?” Answer that and let the hangings for treason, at every level, begin.

  11. Right on schedule – just as some of these Chinese-related stories are gaining traction, and just as Biden breaks a major campaign promise by filling his administration with pro-Chinese lackeys and enablers – the government announces a major RUSSIAN hack of sensitive government agencies, an act which even one Republican congressman describes as a virtual “act of war.”

    Yet somehow this major Russian hack had no discernible effect on any of our lives, nor – apparently – on the day-to-day operations of the ‘victim’ agencies. But – lest we forget – the hapless Russians are still Public Enemy #1, even as we look around us at the death and devastation caused by the Chinese-sourced corona virus. Pay no attention to that or we will ban you, and either shut up or cheer as Biden prepares to give the Chinese everything they want.

  12. Amazing how democrats never want to prosecute anyone who commits a crime.
    Especially if the person committing the crime is also a democrat.

    That is the reason Portland and Seattle continues to burn.

  13. Great work as usual Sheryl! One more thing to add to your timeline: the 2015 Chinese hacking of the OPM federal government personnel database. Among other things, this database contains confidential background checks, security clearances, and all kinds of sensitive information about government officials. Hmmm, why did China want all this data, and what might they do with it? Hmmmm

  14. Why the seeming secrecy about Swalwell’s first wife? No marriage/divorce date I can find. Was his divorce linked to his “relationship” with Fang? Did he tell Fang the FBI was sniffing around, thus blowing the investigation and allowing her escape?

  15. Thank you for your your courage, Sharyl. keep up this exceptional journalism. There is so much more to do in this country. Spies being set free? Americans not informed until post election? Really. Somewhere in all this there must be a treasonable act. God help us!

  16. Oh Sharyl, are you on the RNC payroll or do you ever bother thinking/ investigating for yourself?

    As per Axoios, in 2015, U.S. intelligence providedSwalwell with a “defensive briefing” and he immediately cut off contact with Fang. Also, he is not suspected of any improper actions in his dealings with her. Seems that you’re just doing the usual half-reporting approach that has become your MO to smear someone you don’t agree with politically. Shame on you.

    And for the record, you ignore the fact that Fang also had dealings with Tulsi Gabbard. Why not?

  17. Your article doesn’t go far enough as you left out the Hunter Biden story, Seems like a lot of politicians and their families’ have stooped to corruption and lining their pockets with bribe money and gold.

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