SEATTLE—In its quest to bypass embargoes and obtain the latest U.S. military technology, China isn't only relying on a cadre of carefully trained spies.
It's also enlisting a growing army of amateurs.
Their orders come indirectly from the Chinese government and take the form of shopping lists that are laundered through companies with ties to Beijing.
The recruits who buy the weapons and system components for those companies are scientists, students and businessmen, and they appear to be motivated more by profit than ideology. As one U.S. Homeland Security official put it, the Chinese "flood the zone with buyers"—a strategy that significantly complicates U.S. efforts to stop the flow of American armaments to China.