Information and Threats from China: November 26-27, 2019


From the Australian Broadcasting Company: TikTok and Huawei complicit in censorship and surveillance in Xinjiang, report claims

“Popular video app TikTok is ‘a vector for censorship and surveillance’ in Xinjiang, according to a new report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). The ASPI report, released Thursday afternoon, found that the TikTok’s parent company ByteDance ‘collaborates with public security bureaus across China, including in Xinjiang where it plays an active role in disseminating the party-state’s propaganda.'”

“The report also names Chinese tech giant Huawei — which is banned from supplying equipment to Australia’s 5G mobile network due to security concerns — works ‘extensively’ in Xinjiang and directly with the Chinese Government’s public security bureaus in the region…TikTok has faced allegations of censorship and ‘shadow-banning’ — a stealthier form of censorship where particular topics are down-ranked in the app’s algorithm so they don’t show up in users’ feeds.”

“The ASPI report echoed United States Congress members’ concerns about ‘the app’s use of censorship to curate and shape information flows and export CCP media narratives to data privacy and the potential for the app to be used as a tool of surveillance in the service of the Chinese party-state…'”

From Euronews: Fears over 5G: Merkel sounds warnings over Huawei spying claims

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on European countries to agree on a common approach towards China. In particular, Chancellor Merkel says Europe needs a unified policy on the rollout of the next-generation 5G mobile network. Some German lawmakers want to exclude China’s Huawei from 5G contracts, following warnings from the United States about the potential for espionage. Huawei denies the allegations made by Washington.”

“Speaking in Germany’s Bundestag, Merkel told lawmakers she wanted to see greater collaboration between Europe’s capitals to address the spying concerns or ‘mixed signals will be sent out,’ she said. ‘That would be disastrous not for China but for us in Europe. It’s undisputed that we need high-security standards for 5G expansion but we need to discuss this with the other European partners, just like we are discussing it among ourselves,’ she added…”

From The Economic Times: China defends Xinjiang crackdown after criticism from European leaders

China on Thursday defended its security crackdown in Xinjiang after French and German leaders condemned its mass detention of religious minorities in the region.

The French foreign ministry on Wednesday called on China to ‘put an end to mass arbitrary detentions’ in Xinjiang. German chancellor Angela Merkel on the same day told lawmakers she backed the EU’s condemnation of human rights abuses in the region, and echoed calls for United Nations representatives to be allowed access to Xinjiang as soon as possible to report on the situation…”

From MarketWatch: China lashes out after Trump signs bills supporting Hong Kong protesters

“China reacted furiously to President Donald Trump’s signing of two bills on Hong Kong human rights and said the U.S. will bear the unspecified consequences. Trump signed the bills, which were approved by near unanimous consent in the House and Senate, even as he expressed some concerns about complicating the effort to work out a trade deal with China’s President Xi Jinping.”

“The first bill Trump signed mandates sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who carry out human rights abuses and requires an annual review of the favorable trade status that Washington grants Hong Kong. Another bill prohibits export to Hong Kong police of certain nonlethal munitions, including tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, water cannons, stun guns and tasers…”

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune: Hong Konger complains to UK about ChinaTV forced confession

“A former British Consulate employee in Hong Kong who says he was detained and tortured by Chinese police for information on protesters complained on Wednesday to U.K. regulators that China’s state TV channel aired his forced confession. Simon Cheng filed a complaint with Ofcom, Britain’s broadcast regulator, against China Global Television Network, or CGTN, which he says violated broadcasting rules on fairness, privacy and accuracy.”

“He said he was tortured by secret police in mainland China to glean information about massive anti-government protests roiling Hong Kong. Chinese police acknowledge he was held for 15 days in August but gave no reasons…”

From Fox News: US ambassador blasts German economics minister for China communist comparison

“The U.S. ambassador to Germany chided Chancellor Angela Merkel’s economics affairs minister for drawing an insulting parallel between communist China and America. Richard Grenell did not mention Peter Altmaier by name when he told Fox News on Tuesday that the comparison is ‘an insult to the thousands of American troops who help ensure Germany’s security and to the millions of Americans committed to a strong Western alliance. These claims are likewise an insult to the millions of Chinese citizens denied basic freedoms and unjustly imprisoned by the CCP [Communist Party of China].'”

“Grenell’s comments prompted a national conversation in Germany about Huawei. The ambassador stressed that ‘there is no moral equivalency between China and the United States, and anyone suggesting this ignores history…’”

From Deutsche Welle: Beijing’s cultural genocide in Xinjiang

“At least a million — one in 10 — Uighurs have been detained and are being indoctrinated in the camps, according to estimates. They spend hours singing Communist songs. The camps’ residents have to confess their ‘mistakes,’ the worst of which is practicing their faith. To be allowed to leave, Uighurs must renounce their religion and have a good command of Chinese.”

“However, it’s not freedom that awaits the Uighurs who are finally let go, either, but at best an open-air prison. Surveillance cameras are omnipresent in Xinjiang province. Mobile phones are routinely scanned by police. DNA samples are mandatory, as are iris scans and fingerprinting. Surveillance extends into households and families. In all likelihood, there is no other place in the world subject to this degree of official control…”

From The Strategist: China’s military–civil fusion policy has far-reaching implications for universities

“In 2018, ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre published Picking flowers, making honey, a report that laid out the Chinese military’s extensive presence within foreign universities, to which more than 2,500 of its scientists have been sent as visiting scholars or students. Now, the China Defence Universities Tracker website records in unprecedented detail how more and more Chinese universities are becoming integrated with China’s military apparatus, security agencies and nuclear weapons program. This has serious implications for governments and universities in how they approach research collaboration with China.”

“Picking flowers, making honey described a problem; the China Defence Universities Tracker aims to be part of the solution. While Australia’s universities generally have systems in place to manage collaboration, vet visiting scholars and ensure research integrity, they aren’t working. Media reporting and scholarly research have uncovered numerous cases of universities working with companies implicated in human rights abuses or with the Chinese military and its proxies…”

To view the China Defence Tracker in full click on the image below

From Yahoo Singapore News: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hammers China on Hong Kong and Xinjiang

“US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed support for the people of Hong Kong and the results of ‘free, fair and peaceful district elections’ held over the weekend. On Sunday, more than 70 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots, voting overwhelmingly in favor of pro-democracy candidates who won 17 of 18 council districts. ‘We congratulate the people of Hong Kong,’ Pompeo said. ‘The United States continues to support democratic values, fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong as guaranteed by the one country, two systems framework, and aspirations of the Hong Kong people.’”

“Pompeo also said also that recently leaked Communist Party documents confirmed China was committing ‘very significant’ human rights abuses against Uygurs and other Muslim minorities in mass detention in Xinjiang. ‘It shows that it’s not random and it is intentional and that it is ongoing,’ he said…”

From the Chicago Tribune: US proposes rules to vet all telecoms-related purchases

“The Department of Commerce has proposed requiring case-by-case approvals of all purchases of telecommunications equipment in a move likely to hit major Chinese suppliers like Huawei. The proposal issued Tuesday follows President Donald Trump’s order in May declaring a national emergency and restricting purchases by U.S. companies of telecoms equipment that might be considered a security threat. That order did not name specific countries or companies but was thought to target Chinese suppliers such as Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp.”

“The May 15 order by Trump said foreign ‘adversaries’ were exploiting information and communications technology and services, or ICTS, for espionage and other cybercrimes. It gave the commerce secretary the authority to prohibit or ‘mitigate’ any purchases of telecommunications equipment and services made after that date, ‘if such transactions pose: an undue risk of sabotage or subversion of ICTS in the United States; an undue risk of catastrophic effects on the security and resiliency of critical infrastructure or the digital economy… or an unacceptable risk to national security or to the security or safety of U.S. persons…'”

From Bitter Winter Magazine: Arrested for Listening to Foreign Pastors’ Audio Sermons

“On June 19, over a dozen members of Fule Church, a place of worship that is not part of the state-run Three-Self Church in Jiamusi city in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, were listening to an audio sermon by a South Korean pastor, when officials from the local Religious Affairs Bureau and police officers suddenly broke in. They combed the venue and registered ID information of everyone present.” According to a believer who requested anonymity, the imposters confiscated 80,000 RMB (about $ 11,200) of donation money, some valuables, and more than 200 copies of religious literature, including the Bible.”

“The church pastor and two co-workers were taken away. One of the officials proclaimed that believers are not allowed to listen to sermons by foreign pastors and that they should make donations to the Chinese government instead of South Korean churches. He added that the believers’ refusal to join the Three-Self Church means disobeying and challenging the authorities, which is deemed illegal…”

From Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma: Chinese recruitment programs steal US research

“Through the funding provided by the Confucius Institute Headquarters, OUCI allows students, professionals and researchers to study, visit, and conduct research in China, according to its website. Earlier this month, a Senate investigative report revealed that Chinese recruitment programs are stealing U.S. research and that federal agencies have haltingly responded to these threats. China has strategically acquired intellectual property from U.S. researchers funded by U.S. taxpayers through talent recruitment programs.”

“The report also included that a Chinese funded education and cultural program known as the Confucius Institute is being used to spread propaganda on U.S. college campuses. The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland and Governmental Affairs said that it found the U.S. government inadequate with recognizing these threats and that it’s lacking efficient strategies to better secure U.S. research…”

From the Asia Times: Czech report highlights Chinese, Russian spying

“‘Russian and Chinese spies repeatedly targeted the Czech state last year,’ the country’s intelligence service (BIS) said in its 2018 report published Tuesday, detailing cyber-attacks and disinformation. ‘The intelligence services of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China carry out the most active and most aggressive activities,’ said the BIS. ‘Russian and Chinese intelligence activities affected the sectors of politics, diplomacy, espionage, economy and information struggle’ in 2018, it added.”

“‘Russia had sought ‘to manipulate the decision-making process and individuals responsible for decision-making’, said the report. The staff of all Russian intelligence services were active on the Czech territory in 2018′, it added. ‘China, meanwhile, was looking for potential agents among Czech citizens and the presence of its intelligence services was growing’, said the BIS…”

From Greentech Media News: California and China Strengthen Cleantech Ties as Trade War Smolders

“As Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen have established themselves as epicenters for high-tech investment and innovation, the Chinese government has shifted its focus to building out a competitive technology ecosystem in this cloudy inland metropolis.
Chengdu is already home to several large international corporations, including Dell and IBM. The Chinese tech giant Huawei operates a research center in Chengdu, and recently rolled out multi-dimensional 5G network across the city.”

“Chengdu’s Tianfu New Area was approved in 2014 to serve as a model for sustainable urban development and a hub for strategic new industries. Now, it is where key stakeholders are concentrating efforts to expand their work on the ‘Energy Internet,’ or the deep integration of energy and information technology, which was identified as a strategic focus area in China’s 13th Five-Year Plan. Despite the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, California policy and business leaders have forged ahead with efforts to collaborate with China on the advancement of low-carbon energy technologies…”

From the Economic Times: Chinese spies spook democracies from US to Europe to Australia

“’The Chinese Communist Party doesn’t want democratic governments to be viable,’ said Michael Shoebridge, a former intelligence official in Australia who is now a director at theAustralian Strategic Policy Institute. ‘The way the Chinese are operating under Xi shows they are becoming out and proud in their attempts to infiltrate democracies.’”

“Beijing’s more assertive foreign agenda prompted four of the largest democracies in the Indo-Pacific region — the US, Japan, India and Australia — to this year elevate so-called Quad talks to ministerial level. They plan to present a united front on regional security issues, a move that Beijing has complained could stoke a new Cold War…”

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