Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Spies, hackers, and informants: How China eavesdrops on the United States

BEIJING: Last week, a rumored Chinese surveillance balloon flew above the United States, igniting diplomatic ire and reinforcing concerns regarding Beijing's methods for gathering information on its largest strategic rival.

"The greatest long-term threat to our nation's information and intellectual property, as well as to our economic vitality," said FBI director Christopher Wray in 2020.

According to a statement provided to AFP by China's foreign ministry, the country "resolutely opposed" spying operations and claimed that American accusations are "based on false information and sinister political aims."

In addition, the United States employs its own methods of surveillance and interception as well as informant networks in order to spy on China.

In 2015, the then-president of the United States, Barack Obama, stated that his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, had promised not to use commercial cyber spying.

Washington's subsequent statements have indicated that the practice has continued.

Some of Beijing's recent methods for spying on the United States include the following:

In a major annual intelligence assessment published in 2022, the United States warned that the Asian giant poses "the broadest, most active, and persistent cyber espionage threat" to the public and private sectors.

Researchers and officials from Western intelligence agencies claim that China is proficient at hacking the computer systems of rival nations to steal industrial and trade secrets.

In 2021, the United States, NATO, and other allies claimed that "contract hackers" had been employed by China to take advantage of a security flaw in Microsoft email systems, granting state security agents access to emails, corporate data, and other sensitive information.

According to statements from the US government and reports from the media, Chinese cyberspies have also hacked universities, utility companies, telecommunications companies, and utilities.

The technology industry has been affected by concerns that state-owned businesses would be required to share information with the Chinese government due to Beijing's perceived threat.

Huawei was indicted by the US Department of Justice in 2019 for a variety of offenses, including conspiring to steal US trade secrets and evade Iran sanctions.

Due to concerns that it might be compromised, Washington has restricted the company's supply of systems to the US government and strongly discouraged the use of its equipment in the private sector.

The allegations are against Huawei.

Similar concerns over TikTok drive political debate in the West, with lawmakers calling for a complete ban on the immensely popular app created by China's ByteDance due to concerns about data security.

Experts, US lawmakers, and media reports claim that Beijing has relied on Chinese citizens abroad to help gather intelligence and steal sensitive technology.

Ji Chaoqun was one of the most well-known cases. In January, he was given a sentence of eight years in a US prison for passing on information to Chinese intelligence about potential recruits.

Ji, an engineer who came to the United States in 2013 on a student visa and later joined the army reserves, was accused of providing information about eight individuals to the Jiangsu province ministry of state security, an intelligence unit that was accused of stealing US trade secrets.

A Chinese intelligence officer was given a 20-year prison sentence by a US court last year for stealing technology from aerospace companies in the United States and France.

Xu Yanjun was found guilty of leading a five-year Chinese state-backed scheme to steal commercial secrets from France's Safran Group and GE Aviation, one of the world's leading aircraft engine manufacturers.

Wei Sun, a Chinese national and naturalized US citizen, was sentenced to prison in the United States in 2020 for bringing sensitive information about an American missile system into China on a company laptop.

Chinese agents are alleged to have courted American political, social, and business elites in order to advance Beijing's interests.

In 2020, an investigation by the US news website Axios claimed that a Chinese student enrolled at a university in California had established connections with a variety of US politicians through Beijing's primary civilian spy agency.

The student, who went by the name Fang Fang, used campaign money, friends, and even sexual relationships to target rising politicians between 2011 and 2015.

According to researchers, one more strategy employed by Chinese agents is to entice high-profile Western targets by promising access to top leaders and claiming exclusive knowledge of the Communist Party's opaque inner workings.

According to Chinese-Australian author Alex Joske, the goal has been to "mislead world leaders about (Beijing's) ambitions" and convince them that "China would rise peacefully -- maybe even democratically." How China's most successful covert operations deceived the entire world

Overseas Chinese communities and media organizations have also been pressured by Beijing to support its Taiwan policies and to silence criticism of the Hong Kong and Xinjiang crackdowns.

The non-governmental organization Safeguard Defenders, which has its headquarters in Spain, reported in September 2022 that China had established 54 overseas police stations all over the world in an effort to allegedly target critics of the Communist Party.

Beijing denies the allegations.

In November, China was required to close two "police stations" there by the Netherlands.

The Czech Republic reported a month later that two such centers in Prague had been shut down by China.

Catch Daily Highlights In Your Email

* indicates required

Post Top Ad