Information And Threats From China: November 21-22, 2019

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From the Sydney Morning Herald: Defecting Chinese spy offers information trove to Australian government. “A Chinese spy has risked his life to defect to Australia and is now offering a trove of unprecedented inside intelligence on how China conducts its interference operations abroad. Wang ‘William’ Liqiang is the first Chinese operative to ever blow his cover. He has revealed the identities of China’s senior military intelligence officers in Hong Kong, as well as providing details of how they fund and conduct political interference operations in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia…”

“Mr. Wang is currently at an undisclosed location in Sydney on a tourist visa and seeking urgent protection from the Australian government – a plea he says he has passed on in multiple meetings with ASIO. In interviews with The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes, he has revealed in granular detail how Beijing covertly controls listed companies to fund intelligence operations, including the surveillance and profiling of dissidents and the co-opting of media organizations…”

From the Washington Examiner: FCC bans Chinese telecoms Huawei and ZTE from access to federal broadband subsidies. “The Federal Communications Commission banned wireless providers from using federal subsidies to purchase any equipment or services from Chinese technology companies Huawei and ZTE on Friday. The agency’s unanimous 5-0 vote concluded the two Chinese telecom giants companies pose a threat to national security and blocked them from receiving any money from the U.S. government’s $8.5 billion Universal Service Fund. The fund subsidizes building broadband infrastructure to increase internet access across the United States in underserved areas. Only 65% of residents in rural areas and 60% on tribal lands have high-speed service, compared with 97% in urban areas…”

From the StarTribune: US working with Taiwan to combat China election interference. “The top U.S. representative in Taiwan says Washington is working with it to combat efforts by Beijing to influence upcoming elections on the island. The U.S. is ‘aware that China is attempting to apply pressure through various means on Taiwan … to influence Taiwan’s democratic process,’ Brent Christensen told reporters on Friday. ‘We believe that malign actors are using disinformation campaigns to make people lose faith in democratic institutions,’ said Christensen, who serves as the de facto U.S. ambassador to Taipei…

From The Sociable: Senators move to block US technology and user data from getting to Chinese govt. “U.S. senators are moving to block the transfer of data and technology from the US to China, so that the data doesn’t fall in the hands of the Communist government. Everyone in the intelligence community is screaming that China is stealing American technology, infiltrating American universities, and hacking major institutions all with the aim of achieving technological superiority, which would subsequently lead to geopolitical domination.

“China is the single greatest counterintelligence threat facing the U.S., and measures are being pushed forward this week to limit big tech interactions with companies like Huawei and TikTok in an effort to prevent China from siphoning data from American users…”

From the Department of Justice: Chinese National Who Worked at Monsanto Indicted on Economic Espionage Charges. “Haitao Xiang, 42, formerly of Chesterfield, Missouri, was indicted today by a federal grand jury on one count of conspiracy to commit economic espionage, three counts of economic espionage, one count of conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets and three counts of theft of trade secrets.”

“According to the indictment, Xiang was employed by Monsanto and its subsidiary, The Climate Corporation, from 2008 to 2017, where he worked as an imaging scientist. Monsanto and The Climate Corporation developed a digital, on-line farming software platform that was used by farmers to collect, store, and visualize critical agricultural field data and increase and improve agricultural productivity for farmers. A critical component to the platform was a proprietary predictive algorithm referred to as the Nutrient Optimizer. Monsanto and The Climate Corporation considered the Nutrient Optimizer a valuable trade secret and their intellectual property. ‘The indictment alleges another example of the Chinese government using Talent Plans to encourage employees to steal intellectual property from their U.S. employers,’ said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers…”

From Radio Free Asia: ‘Xinjiang Papers’ Leak Spurs Calls For Action on China’s Uyghur Camps. “The leak of hundreds of pages of documents detailing a crackdown on ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) ordered by President Xi Jinping has spurred calls for global action to hold Beijing accountable for the abuses. Last week, The New York Times published a 403-page trove of documents it said were released by someone within the ‘Chinese political establishment’ that told of how Xi called for an ‘all-out ‘struggle against terrorism, infiltration, and separatism’ using the ‘organs of dictatorship,’ in internal speeches following an attack by ‘Uyghur militants’ that killed more than 30 people at a train station in 2014.”

“Xi, who visited the XUAR weeks after the attack, urged officials to show ‘absolutely no mercy’ in stamping out Islamic extremism in the region, where authorities are believed to have detained up to 1.5 million people accused of harboring ‘strong religious views’ and ‘politically incorrect’ ideas in a vast network of internment camps since April 2017…”

From The Epoch Times: Columbia University Cancels Panel on China’s Human Rights Violations, Sparks Worries of Communist Influence. “Amidst the rising concern of Beijing’s ideological subversion and infiltration on American campuses, Columbia University abruptly cancelled a discussion panel on human rights violations by the Chinese communist regime a day before the event was scheduled to begin. According to the Columbia Daily Spectator, the university’s student newspaper, event organizers were notified that they failed to book a venue ‘through official channels,’ therefore the event had to be cancelled.

“They were also told some students were planning on protesting the event. Teng Biao, a prominent Chinese human rights lawyer who intended to be on at the Nov. 14 panel, wrote on Twitter that pro-Beijing Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) was likely behind the cancellation…”

From Time: ‘The Entire System Is Designed to Suppress Us.’ What the Chinese Surveillance State Means for the Rest of the World. “Every move in the city is seemingly captured digitally. Cameras perch over sidewalks, hover across busy intersections and swivel above shopping districts. But Chongqing is by no means unique. Eight of the top 10 most surveilled cities in the world are in China, according to Comparitech, as the world’s No. 2 economy rolls out an unparalleled system of social control. Facial–recognition software is used to access office buildings, snare criminals and even shame jaywalkers at busy intersections. China today is a harbinger of what society looks like when surveillance proliferates unchecked…”

“As Western democracies enact safeguards to protect citizens from the rampant harvesting of data by government and corporations, China is exporting its AI-powered surveillance technology to authoritarian governments around the world. Chinese firms are providing high-tech surveillance tools to at least 18 nations from Venezuela to Zimbabwe, according to a 2018 report by Freedom House…”

From the Department of Justice: Former CIA Officer Sentenced for Conspiracy to Commit Espionage. A former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) case officer was sentenced today to 19 years in prison for conspiring to communicate, deliver and transmit national defense information to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“In just over a year, we have convicted three Americans for committing espionage offenses on behalf of the Chinese government.  Each has now received a sentence of at least a decade,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “Sadly, all three of them are former members of the U.S. Intelligence Community.  These convictions and sentences should send a strong message to current and former security clearance holders: be aware that the Chinese government targets you — and if you betray us, be aware that the Department of Justice will hold you accountable…”

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