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Cases of Chinese people working in various industries who were wooed by money or intimidated to engage in espionage activities and became pawns of foreign spy intelligence agencies are numerous. Taking preventive measures and avoiding similar incidents that endanger national security is crucial to protecting national security.

China passed a law on counterespionage in 2014 and a law on national security in 2015, which outlined the necessity and importance of fighting foreign espionage, underlining individual responsibility in protecting national security and social stability against a bigger picture. On occasion of celebrating National Security Education implementation of China's counter-espionage law, villages, urban communities, schools and government departments in China will usually start a learning campaign that explains how to guard against the infiltration and influence of foreign anti-China forces.

China rolled out a new anti-espionage regulation on 26 April 2021, which allows the national security authority to draw up lists of companies and organizations that are susceptible to foreign infiltration and require listed institutes to adopt security measures to prevent foreign infiltration. Since foreign spies and intelligence agencies and other hostile forces have intensified their infiltration and intelligence theft against China through more diverse methods and in broader fields, the regulation clarifies "what, who and how" to guard against foreign espionage, officials from the national security authority explained on Monday.

"The regulation is of great significance to improve the legal system in protecting national security by specifying the responsibilities that companies and institutions must bear. It places emphasis on companies and institutions taking precautionary measures against foreign espionage," Li Wei, an expert on national security and anti-terrorism at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

According to the regulation, companies, organizations or social groups on the list shoulder the responsibility to roll out detailed measures against foreign espionage, including arranging their working staff to sign letters of commitment before taking up posts, reporting their activities related to national security, giving education to personnel ahead of their departures abroad, and interviewing personnel after their return to China.

Staff going on business trips to foreign countries, such as countries of the Five Eyes alliance - the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand - have been told to strictly report their travel destinations, agendas, and meetings with foreign personnel, and they must get approval from their direct superiors before the applications are reviewed by the headquarters. The enterprises have also strengthened pre-departure anti-spying education through means of seminars and short movies, where cases of foreign intelligence work are shown.

In particular, electrical devices including mobile phones, laptops, and USB drives, which usually contain sensitive information, are key objects for intelligence agencies, and companies require staff involved in sensitive fields or those holding important files to leave their electrical devices at home and bring new ones abroad. For visits to countries that have been categorized as high-risk in terms of spying activities, staff will evaluate if the trips are necessary and would advise against going if they are not essential. Any companies or institutions within the scope of national defense, diplomacy, economy, finance and high-tech industry should be considered as key fields in terms of possible foreign infiltration.

To carry out anti-espionage missions and eliminate the hidden dangers of foreign espionage, the regulation also gives national security organs access to buildings, internal materials, electronical media kits, facilities, or computers and information systems of the companies involved. Those companies or organs that fail to implement their responsibilities, which results in negative outcomes, will face punishments accordingly, the 2021 regulation said.

China's Ministry of State Security (MSS) and other intelligence services aggressively target the US, placing particular emphasis on the high tech sector heavily concentrated in Southern California, and in the Silicon Valley. Cover for Beijing's espionage in the United States includes the 1,500 Chinese diplomats operating out of 70 offices, 15,000 Chinese students who arrive in the US each year, and 10,000 Chinese who travel in some 2,700 visiting delegations each year.

Most of the research personnel in Communist China are locked up in the compound of their research institutes, and very few of them have ever had the chance to see things in foreign countries. The shortcomings of the CPC's intelligence research institutes has affected the judgment of the CPC top leadership when making foreign- related policies. Thus it is not surprising that the CPC's foreign policies have been at times confused or too aggressive.

In 1979, Vietnam invaded Cambodia. Prior to Vietnam's 1979 invasion of Cambodia, the CPC's intelligence community assured the Chinese leadership of the Khmer Rouge's ability to resist the Vietnamese invasion. Based on this assurance, the CPC continued suppling the Khmer Rouge with arms, which were seized by the Vietnamese. CPC intelligence also claimed that Vietnam could not capture Phnom Penh, but only a few days after this assessment, Phnom Penh fell into Vietnamese.

In 1979, Hua Guofeng planned to pay a visit to Iran on his way to Western Europe. The assessment of CPC intelligence was that the Shah of Iran would not step down in the near future, though shortly after Hua Guofeng's visit the Shah was forced to leave the country. The CPC was thoroughly discredited by this event and later fell afoul of the new regime in Iran.

On the eve of the collapse of Romania's Ceausescu, Qiao Shi visited Romania to attend the national congress of the Romanian Communist Party. In their reports Qiao Shi before he left for Romania, Chinese analysts stated that the situation in Romania was fairly good. As it turned out, Ceausescu was executed shortly after Qiao Shi returned home.

As early as 1991, the FBI knew about Chinese government contributions to U.S. campaigns. There is evidence that China sought favorable American treatment on trade policy by contributing millions of dollars to the re-election of Bill Clinton and members of Congress. The US National Security Agency intercepted communications indicating that China was targeting 30 Congressional candidates (mostly Democrats) for influence buying campaign contributions. Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich was one of those candidates. According to James F. Lilley, U.S. ambassador to China in the Bush administration and a former CIA officer:

"U.S. counterintelligence agents and the FBI discovered Chinese efforts to interfere in American campaigns as early as 1991, when FBI agents warned a number of Democratic members of Congress to watch for Chinese donations passed through intermediaries.... It's the way they operate in Asian countries. They do it by bribing government officials; they bribe them to change policy.... Beijing is trying to influence the U.S. position on a host of issues related to ongoing negotiations about China's and Taiwan's entry into the World Trade Organization, market access for American products in China, intellectual-property piracy, technology transfers and weapons proliferation."

Sen. Fred D. Thompson (R-Tenn.), who chaired the 1997 campaign finance hearings, said the committee believed:

"that high-level Chinese government officials crafted a plan to increase China's influence over the U.S. political process," and took "specific steps" to do so, including the allocation of "substantial sums of money" to influence federal and state elections.

US security agencies and the Justice Department's Criminal Division believe, based on counterintelligence surveillance, that Beijing's diplomatic community and espionage network helped Democratic fundraiser John Huang and other political operatives get millions of dollars in campaign donations and "walking-around" cash for the 1996 election.

The plan was launched in 1995 as a relatively benign congressional lobbying activity, but became an effort whose goal was to illegally funnel money into political campaigns. Approved at the highest levels of the Beijing government, the plan was placed under the control of the Chinese Ministry of State Security. U.S. intelligence has established that about $2 million was allocated by the Chinese government, of which at least $1 million was transferred to U.S. banks or to the Chinese Embassy in Washington.

In October 2017, the Czech Republic's Security Information Service (SIS) warned that Chinese spying increased in the past year, using available information networks to promote interests in the EU country, including attempting to suppress concerns about Tibet. The Czech intelligence agency added that China also engaged higher-risk cyber espionage activities, according to military intelligence sources.

Germany's Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) said 09 December 2017 that some 10,000 German citizens had been targeted in an intelligence operation by Chinese spies, who primarily used the professional networking platform LinkedIn to infiltrate political circles. "Chinese intelligence services are active on networks like LinkenIn and have been trying for a while to extract information and find intelligence sources in this way," the BfV said.

BfV chief Hans-Georg Maassen said China's spy agency created several fake profiles posing as consultants, policy experts, scholars and headhunters. Many of the profiles include pictures of stylish young professionals. One of the accounts was credited to "Laeticia Chen," who claimed to be a manager at the "China Center of International Politics and Economy." The profile image was taken from an online fashion catalogue.

"The infections are difficult to detect, since network connections between service providers and their customers aren't suspicious," the BfV said. "This gives the attacker an even better disguise than before."

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Page last modified: 30-07-2021 18:08:41 ZULU