Thursday, September 28, 2023

Hacking, New Technologies and Informants: How China Spyed on the West

The arrest this weekend in the United Kingdom of a man accused of spying for Beijing has raised concerns in Western countries about operations in China by intelligence services.

This episode happened a few months after a Chinese balloon was noticed flying over the United States, which they believed to be a spy device and shot it down. This incident led to a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

These are the main tools China has used to spy on Western countries in recent years.

According to researchers and intelligence officials from Western countries, China has become an expert in hacking the computer systems of rival countries to obtain industrial and commercial secrets.

In 2021, the United States, its allies and NATO accused the Chinese government of massive hacking of computer giant Microsoft, to access emails and obtain confidential information from individuals and companies.

Chinese hackers are also suspected of operating in the United States against the Department of Energy, public services, telecommunications companies and universities, according to Washington and the press.

The United States has increased its warnings against the TikTok application and the risk that its ties to China could pose to national security.

Some lawmakers fear that TikTok’s parent company, the Chinese group ByteDance, could access the personal data of American users and send it to Chinese authorities.

Washington has blacklisted the Huawei group, known for its mobile phones but also as a supplier of equipment for networks and 5G.

Without testing it, the United States fears that these products serve as access to monitor communications and data circulation, which Huawei denies.

Beijing relies on Chinese citizens abroad to obtain information and steal the latest technology, Washington said.

One of the most high-profile cases is that of Chinese engineer Ji Chaoqun, who arrived in the United States in 2013 on a student visa. Ji was sentenced in January in the United States to eight years in prison for providing China’s intelligence services with information about American scientists who could be recruited as information sources.

In 2020, Wei Sun, a naturalized American Chinese engineer who worked for the defense group Raytheon, was sentenced to prison after the company’s computer containing important information about an American missile system was brought to China.

To get first-hand information and promote its interests, Beijing also reaches out to prominent people in politics and economics.

According to the Sunday Times, the man imprisoned in the United Kingdom had contacts with representatives of the Conservative Party in power from when he was an investigator in the Parliament.

In 2020, the information website Axios claimed that a Chinese student had established links with a series of American politicians, at the behest of Beijing’s intelligence services.

This student, Fang Fang, allegedly gained their trust by participating in fundraising campaigns and may have even had sex with some of them, according to Axios.

China has a series of secret “police stations” in the United States and other countries, says the human rights organization Safeguard Defenders.

These undeclared structures have the ability to monitor dissidents or pressure them, according to this Madrid-based organization.

Beijing denies these accusations.

The Netherlands ordered China in November to close two of these centers on its territory. A month later, Beijing closed two similar structures in Prague.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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