American Journal of Educational Research
ISSN (Print): 2327-6126 ISSN (Online): 2327-6150 Website: Editor-in-chief: Ratko Pavlović
Open Access
Journal Browser
American Journal of Educational Research. 2014, 2(11), 1115-1125
DOI: 10.12691/education-2-11-19
Open AccessArticle

First Person Observations of How HUMINT (Human Source Collection) Operations are a Reflection of Culture in China and the U.S.

Jim Schnell1,

1Ohio Dominican University

Pub. Date: November 27, 2014

Cite this paper:
Jim Schnell. First Person Observations of How HUMINT (Human Source Collection) Operations are a Reflection of Culture in China and the U.S.. American Journal of Educational Research. 2014; 2(11):1115-1125. doi: 10.12691/education-2-11-19


This article examines HUMINT (Human Source Collection) operations as a reflection of cultural practices in China and the U.S. As such it begins by describing the role of context within daily life in China and then provides theoretical explanation for this Chinese context emphasis by clarifying the U.S. as more of a low-context culture and China as being more of a high-context culture. This is then used as foundation to compare and contrast Chinese HUMINT (Human Source Collection) practices with U.S. HUMINT practices. The fundamental finding from this analysis is that Chinese HUMINT practices tend to be reflective of Chinese high-context communication norms in contrast with U.S. HUMINT practices that are more reflective of U.S. low-context communication norms. The author draws from over 35 years service in the U.S. intelligence community, as both uniformed military and civilian. He retired from the U.S. Air Force (Reserve) in 2007, at the rank of Colonel, with his final 14 years serving as an Assistant Air Force Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China. Since that time he has continued to work, teach and do research focusing on national security and intelligence issues.

HUMINT (human source collection) Operations U.S.-China relations cross-cultural context

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Andersen, P. (2004).“Explaining Intercultural Aspectsof Nonverbal Communication.”Paper presented at the 2004 meeting of the National Communication Association (Boston, Massachusetts).
[2]  Devito, J.A. (2006). The Interpersonal Communication Book. New York: Harper and Row.
[3]  Eftimiades, N. (2004). Chinese Intelligence Operations (2nd edition). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.
[4]  Gudykunst, W.B. &Y.Y. Kim, (2007). Communicating with Strangers: An Approach to Intercultural Communication. New York: McGraw-Hill.
[5]  Hall, E.T. (2009). Beyond Culture. Garden City, New York: Anchor Press.
[6]  Hall, E.T. (2007). The Dance of Life: The Other Dimension of Time. Garden City, New York: Anchor Press.
[7]  Hall, E.T. (2011). The Silent Language. Greenwich, Connecticut: Fawcett, p. 39.
[8]  Heisey, D.R. (2005)Chinese Perspectives in Rhetoric and Communication. Stamford, Connecticut: Ablex Publishing Corporation.
[9]  Hoffman, Tod. (2008).The Spy Within: Larry Chin and China’s Penetration of the CIA. Hanover, New Hampshire: Steerforth Press.
[10]  Hofstede, G. (2008). Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values. Beverly Hills, California: Sage.
[11]  Koester, J. (2006). Intercultural Competence: Interpersonal Communication Across Cultures. New York: HarperCollins.
[12]  Lee, W.H. (2011).My Country Versus Me. New York: Hyperion.
[13]  Lowenthal, M.M. (2012).Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Press.
[14]  Murray, D.P. (2009). “Face-to-Face: American and Chinese Interactions.” In Kapp, R.A. (ed.), Communicating with China. Chicago: Intercultural Press, pp. 9-27.
[15]  Neuliep, J.W. (2010). Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
[16]  Ochs, E. (2008). “Introduction: What Child Language Can Contribute to Pragmatics.” In Ochs, E. and B. Schiefflen (eds.), Developmental Pragmatics. New York: Academic Press.
[17]  Report to Congress of the U.S-China Economic and Security Review Commission (June 1, 2007), htttp://
[18]  Stober, D. and I. Hoffman. (2005).A Convenient Spy: Wen Ho Lee and the Politics of Nuclear Espionage. New York: Simon & Shuster.
[19]  Triandis, H. (2012). Individualism and Collectivism. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2012).
[20]  White, J.B. (2006).When Words Lose Their Meaning: Constitution and Reconstitutions of Language, Character, and Community. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
[21]  Wise, D. (2011).Tiger Trap: America’s Secret Spy War with China. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt.
[22]  U.S. House Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People’s Republic of China (Cox Committee), (2009). 3 vols., 105th Congress, 2nd session.