China's Growing Spy Threat (Page 3 of 5)

Traditional methods, such as infiltrating companies and compromising existing employees, are still widely used. Academic and educational institutions play a crucial role as well—as do the regime’s ‘front companies’ set up in the United States, estimated to number in the thousands by the FBI. Foreign companies with operations in China are said to be particularly vulnerable to losing their secrets.

Meanwhile, more advanced tools like computer hacking are becoming an increasingly important weapon in the regime’s economic-spying arsenal. ‘Their cyber activities have increased in the last ten years quite significantly,’ says Juneau-Katsuya. ‘They are devoting university departments and entire sections of the (People’s Liberation Army) just to that.’ 

Another key but underestimated strategy employed in China’s quest for trade secrets—corporate acquisitions and joint ventures—makes use of the regime’s vast empire of well-funded, state-owned companies. By purchasing even a significant percentage of a firm, China often obtains important technological know-how. It also buys political influence.

‘China continues to leverage foreign investments, commercial joint ventures, academic exchanges, the experience of repatriated Chinese students and researchers, and state-sponsored industrial/technical espionage to increase the level of technologies and expertise available to support military research, development, and acquisition,’ notes a 2011 US Defense Department report to Congress on Chinese military and security developments.

Especially following the recent recession, the Chinese regime has been on a global shopping spree using its vast cash reserves—buying up all sorts of companies, from car manufacturers to technology enterprises. But countless examples of the use of this tactic have been documented for well over a decade.

Even more alarming for some: A secret 1997 investigation by CSIS and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police entitled ‘Sidewinder’ found that criminal networks affiliated with Chinese intelligence were also intimately involved. The Canadian government essentially dismissed the report, but many analysts believe the collaboration has only grown since then.

In general, firms and universities are simply not doing enough to protect their secrets and technology from China, says Center for Intelligence Studies Chairman Charles Viar. ‘That said, the larger problem involves contractual agreements in which Western companies voluntarily transfer sensitive technologies—often illegally—in order to win contracts with China,’ he points out.

Fisher has similar concerns. He says firms and educational institutions around the world are not simply targets—in many cases they have become ‘compliant victims’ of Chinese intelligence agencies’ designs.

‘Companies and universities must first reach an understanding of how they are aiding and abetting the Chinese Communist dictatorship,’ says Fisher, noting that as long as they crave Chinese money, they will continue bending over backwards to satisfy the regime. ‘This scandal is compounded by the fact that Chinese allies in the capitals of most democracies are succeeding in avoiding or averting the level of critical review that would also lead to defensive action.’

Persecuting Dissidents, Even Abroad

One of the top priorities of Chinese espionage efforts—foreign and domestic—is monitoring and disrupting dissidents, according to defectors, experts, and official documents. In the crosshairs overseas are Chinese democracy activists, Tibetans, the exiled Uighur community, Falun Gong practitioners, supporters of Taiwanese independence, and countless others—essentially anybody who disagrees with the regime or paints a negative image of it abroad.

In 2009, for example, a massive and sophisticated cyber espionage network was discovered by Canadian researchers. The system, known as ‘GhostNet,’ had reportedly penetrated computers belonging to multiple governments, the exiled Dalai Lama, and a number of other dissidents and critics. Investigators traced the operation to China.

Last year, after a ‘highly sophisticated and targeted attack’ originating in China, Google announced that a primary goal of the operation was to gain access to Chinese human rights activists’ e-mail accounts. ‘Dozens’ of such accounts had already been compromised through other means before the attack in question, the company also said in a statement.  

It’s not just human rights campaigners and pro-Tibetan activists who are under constant attack, however. Among the most viciously persecuted are individuals associated with Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa. The spiritual and philosophical movement was banned by the Communist regime in 1999 after officialdom decided it might represent a threat to the Communist Party.

Labelling it an ‘evil cult,’ China then created an extra-legal apparatus known as the 6-10 Office to quash the discipline domestically—and around the world. An unprecedented campaign of terror and brainwashing has since been unleashed, including a vast network of ‘re-education’ camps, disappearances, torture, harvesting organs from practitioners, and more. 

And the regime’s tentacles have truly spread worldwide in pursuit of its goal. ‘The war against Falun Gong is one of the main tasks of the Chinese mission overseas,’ Chen Yonglin, a senior official at the Chinese Consulate in Sydney told a US Congressional committee in 2005 after his defection.

A vast body of evidence, and even recent court cases, support the claim. In June, for example, a Chinese man in Germany was convicted of spying on members of the Falun Gong community for China. A few years earlier, a senior Chinese embassy official in Ottawa was expelled after being caught spying on practitioners there. 

In the United States, officials also regularly highlight the problem. The House of Representatives has blasted the regime for similar illegal activities inside the United States on at least four occasions. A House resolution passed last year and a separate measure adopted in 2004, for instance, recognized the seriousness of the problem, called for the regime to stop, and urged US authorities to take action.

According to the resolutions, China’s diplomatic corps is actively ‘harassing and persecuting’ Chinese dissidents in the United States, breaking into the homes of prominent activists, pressuring US officials with threats, spreading lies, and more. In addition to the well-known persecution going on within China, ‘the Chinese Government has also attempted to silence the Falun Gong movement and Chinese pro-democracy groups inside the United States,’ the measures state.

More than a few US Representatives have been even more direct. Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), speaking in support of the resolution, said last year that ‘clear evidence’ shows Chinese diplomats were colluding with secret agents and ‘thugs’ to suppress the constitutionally protected rights of Americans. She called on the State Department to ‘get tough’ on the regime’s functionaries within US borders. 

‘First is the issue of the penetration of agents of an alien Communist regime right here inside the United States to wage a campaign of repression against US citizens,’ Ros-Lehtinen said before the House, citing examples and noting that Chinese agents were ‘persecuting American Falun Gong practitioners in our own country.’ And the well-documented ‘bloody harvest’ and ‘coercive organ transplants’ from Falun Gong practitioners within China, she added, ‘is almost too ghoulish to imagine.’

God is my Judge
August 29, 2013 at 13:33

You 2 are hysterical. You don't fool anyone. Your ill-referenced quip that you are chinese and should be owed money because you could be an asset is a nice coy maneuver. Straight from the 36 strategems. 

You and John Chan, haha. What do they pay you on top of the peanuts ?

Daniel God is my Judge
August 29, 2013 at 13:04

Yes, but if there was a certain segment of the population not in America, could you imagine how safe it would be? A majority of all violent crime and same race on same race is committed by them.

I lived in China as well and felt generally safer from violent crime. But, if you were a female chinese who wanted to have more than 1 child, I would all of a sudden not feel so safe… or what if you wanted to start a pro liberty group ? 

For instance this John Chan chap. You think he is really expressing his view? To tell you the truth I am sure the Chinese have software that allows them to recognize an anti-China article and they send at least 1 person to do PR damage control. 

Just read any article on dailymail that comes out about China and there will be at least 10 pro-CCP writers acting coy as if they aren't agents working for their beloved motherland.

[...] [...]

[...] to enforce its “one-child policy.” Savage persecution of Christians and political opposition, harvesting of body organs from dissidents, concentration camps for critics, mass slaughter, failed central planning, and more, have become the norm. Indeed, the Chinese [...]

[...] U.S. counterintelligence officials said last year that the communist Chinese regime was the world’s biggest perpetrator of economic espionage, with a potential to jeopardize hundreds of billions of GDP dollars every year. One of Beijing’s primary methods, of course, is the use of Chinese “companies” to gobble up intelligence and intellectual property. [...]

American Trash Calling Pot Black
September 3, 2012 at 11:48

"‘When you consider that China’s intelligence community views any foreign-deployed Chinese citizen, any Chinese delegation, all Chinese criminal networks, and all overseas Chinese with any tangible affinity or connection to the Motherland as a target for recruitment, then you have to find a different way to measure,’ Fisher explains. This has to start with the consideration that any Chinese, especially those from China, from student to CEO, are potential active intelligence assets.’.  "
It is obvious Mr Fisher is speaking for him self and Americans aboard.  We know Americans are being tapped every day to do their "patriotic" duty.
So, please speak for yourself Mr Fisher. So kindly do not attribute to us what you are but we are not. We are not the sinister orientals but you sir, are definitely, the sinister "gweilos".
Mr Li
Minister of Home Affairs

Dr. Rice
November 22, 2011 at 13:44

I remember reading in the art of war something along the lines of “a small, but poorly funded army is still more expensive than a large, lavishly paid spy network.” This is all I am seeing when I read this.

I am sure the key to understanding the Chinese can be found when you look at their history and philosophies.

October 2, 2011 at 17:51

Yang Jisheng, formerly of Xinhua researched and published Tombstone, in Hong Kong, of course, not in PRC. Based on years of reading and assessing local government documents he estimates some 40 million extra deaths due to the Great Leap Forward. Other recent research supports this figure.
This, ata time when Mao knew about the famine but was selling grain to the Soviet Union in exchange for nuclear weapons know how. John Chan, your ignorance and blindness to facts make very good companions to your inhumanity and heartlessness.

September 25, 2011 at 22:25

What does kremlinology and china watcher mean??? Study hard.

Kung Pao
September 25, 2011 at 05:57

@Ozivan: Technically, they’re the same, but morally killing your own is worse (you know why). The irony is CCP wanted people to call him great hero; only in communist countries !

Mao and HCM were extremely violent guys. Ghandi should have offered crash course “Introduction to non-violent methods” to them.

Charlie T.
September 24, 2011 at 22:58

What I have noticed about all of the attacks on Mr. Newman and the article is that not a single one of them disputes a single fact or claim made by one of the documents or people who are talked about in the article. Saying that the United States or white people or Europeans or whoever has done bad things in the past and in the future does not change anything and this article was obviously about China not what the United States has done.

You might be interested to know that I have followed Mr. Newman’s work closely for years and you might be surprised to know that he has done very much reporting on the activities of the United States regime and its spying and war making.

September 24, 2011 at 14:17

America’s Already Grown Spy Threat. White Americans killed their own people, their fellow nationals, the Native Americans and African Americans; the American government peddled people to libya for torture in return for their answers; the american government has more than 750 military bases overseas and has invaded, since 1980, Grenada; Panama; Iraq twice; Afghanistan; Libya and others. China does execute the occasional corrupt banker/mayor/politician. The U.S. rewards them with cabinet positions instead. The Chinese national representative body is probably more representative, when measured by incomes, than the U.S. Congress. The U.S. Supreme Court has made U.S. elections a joke. they are now auctions, not elections. And CCTV is less propagandistic than Fox. Alex Newman is a dope; or a shill; or a lobbyist. but a journalist, he ain’t.

September 24, 2011 at 02:03

@John Chan: I don’t believe the 100,000,000 figure nor do I believe any figure you or CCP provide. I go by the link I provided ozivan.

No need to insult others.

John Chan
September 23, 2011 at 22:35

In China, wealth transfer from the have areas to have-not areas as matter of fact and duty, no one make a big fuss about it. When the natural disasters come, the have areas all pitch in to rebuild the disaster areas free of charge. It sounds like socialism to me.

Yet there are disasters in Europe, none of the EU members want to pitch in without charging arm and leg interest for the half hearted funds they provided. It seems Europeans are heartless and no compassion for their own kind, they only care nickels and dines. Yet they claimed they are civilized, democratic and caring human rights.

Comparing the above two contrast facts, I just wonder what’s good of democracy and western civilization; they put money in front of humanity.

September 23, 2011 at 19:47

I look forward to the results of your research, and of course your judgment on Mao from this. Please keep in mind three things:
1)Take into account the duration factor. The Great Leap drama lasted only 2-3 years. So, apart from the absolute number, there is the intensity.
2)Take into account the intention or not to cover-up, minimize, distort facts and incriminate others. The use/abuse of power and governmental tools to do so. We are not discussing the responsibility of a low-level executive but that of a leader, a head of state.
3)Don’t mix things up like John Chan. Leave aside the “crimes” of Lady Marcos and the poems of Dr José Rizal will you?

September 23, 2011 at 17:05

We aren’t talking about the West here we are talking about China but even though I disagree with the death penalty at least we have trial by jury and the death penalty is only applied in murder cases in some states and so on.
I do not think you can compare the execution of a murderer convicted by a jury of his peers in a court of law to deliberately starving people because they are too old or sick to work or harvesting organs from people because they believe in a religion the state does not like.
I didn’t make up any facts I quoted from a historian who examined CCP records and came to those conclusions and saying that people in the West or Japan have committed heinous crimes centuries ago in no way justifies what the CCP is doing or has done. I feel like you are trying to distract from the reality in any way you can but it is not working very well in my opinion.

Share your thoughts

Your Name
Your Email
required, but not published
Your Comment

Sign up for our weekly newsletter
The Diplomat Brief