According to the DoJ, Hansen, 58, retired from the US Army as a warrant officer with a background in signals intelligence and human intelligence. Moreover, Hansen speaks fluent Chinese and Russian. The DIA hired Hansen in 2006 as "a civilian intelligence case officer".
According to Justice Department, Hansen has admitted that in early 2014, "agents of a Chinese intelligence service targeted Hansen for recruitment, and he began meeting with them regularly in China. During those meetings, the Chinese agents described to Hansen the type of information that would interest the Chinese intelligence service. During the course of his relationship with the agents of the Chinese intelligence service, Hansen received hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for information he provided them, including information he gathered at various industry conferences".
Notably, Hansen attempted to provide classified information for Chinese intelligence that "related to United States military readiness in a particular region and was closely held by the United States government", according to the DoJ.
One of the sources of the current tense relations between Washington and Beijing is situation in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. China considers a group of artificial islands located in the South China Sea as its territory, despite an international tribunal ruling that these claims have no legal basis. The United States, in turn, has criticized Beijing for moving weapons to the artificial archipelago, and China in turn has described such criticisms as interference in its internal affairs.
Moreover, Trump has requested half a billion dollars in his 2020 budget proposal to provide support for countries in Europe and Asia to counter alleged foreign malign influence. The Wall Street Journal reported that the US envoy in Berlin had warned German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier that the US administration would limit intelligence data sharing with the German government if Chinese technology giant Huawei was allowed to participate in the development of German telecommunications infrastructure.
Huawei has recently faced allegations of links to the Chinese government and even involvement in espionage on its behalf, something that the company has vehemently denied. In mid-August, Trump enacted legislation banning US government agencies from using services from Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese company, against the background of the ongoing dispute.