Share this on Twitter Share this on Facebook Share this on LinkedIn Share this on Sina Weibo Share this on Wechat Share this on LinkedIn Illustration by Luis Grañena In March 2012, a 28-year-old federal contractor named Edward Snowden first reported to the National Security Agency’s Kunia Regional Security Operations Center on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Though he would later hatch a complex plan to leak highly classified intelligence documents, Snowden’s original contract was for a straightforward task: detect and thwart Chinese hacking of U.S. government operations. The mission was urgent. Chinese cyber attacks against the U.S. were on the rise, and by the end of that year, attacks from China accounted for more than 40 percent of the world’s activity, according to a study by Akamai Technologies. In the depths of the Kunia base — a decrepit former Navy Armory that NSA employees nicknamed “The Tunnel” — a team of NSA experts focused on what top defense officials had called “China’s cyber thievery.” By then, Snowden was well versed in China’s hacking operations. In 2010, when he worked at the NSA’s Pacific TechnSubscribe or login to read the rest. Subscribers get full access to: Exclusive longform investigative journalism, Q&As, news and analysis, and data on Chinese business elites and corporations. We publish China scoops you won't find anywhere else. A weekly curated reading list on China from David Barboza, Pulitzer Prize-winning former Shanghai correspondent for The New York Times. A daily roundup of China finance, business and economics headlines. We offer discounts for groups, institutions and students. Go to our Subscriptions page for details.