China Reform Monitor - No. 1310

Chinese spies set their sights on Germany;
New modes of surveillance hit Xinjiang


January 2, 2018


December 5:

Chinese state-owned energy firm PetroChina has discovered one of the largest reserves of crude oil in the world, containing approximately 1 billion tons of oil, in Xinjiang's Ma lake area of Jungar (Dzungarian) Basin. In the last two years, PetroChina has produced 1.38 million metric tons of crude oil in Xinjiang, and now plans to raise output from the region to 6 million tons,
the Daily Sabah reports.

December 10:

At 9 am, dozens of migrant workers took to the streets of Beijing's Chaoyang district to protest being evicted from their homes,
the South China Moring Post reports. Protesters shouted and held home-made banners that read "forced eviction violates human rights." All those without Beijing residents' permits had been told to vacate their homes, according to a notice on November 26th saying that the power and water supplies would be cut on December 15th. The incident followed the government's controversial safety campaign, which left tens of thousands of migrant workers homeless. Authorities are in the midst of a 40-day campaign to evict people from "unauthorized dwellings" and demolish them following a fire on November 18th that left 19 people dead.

December 11:

Germany's domestic intelligence service has accused Beijing of targeting some 10,000 German citizens in an intelligence operation using LinkedIn,
Deutsche Welle reports. Germany's Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) has confirmed that "Chinese intelligence services are active on networks like LinkedIn and have been trying for a while to extract information and find intelligence sources in this way." Chinese spies created fake profiles and posed as consultants, policy experts, scholars and headhunters. "They are difficult to detect, since network connections between service providers and their customers aren't suspicious. This gives the attacker an even better disguise than before," said BfV chief Hans-Georg Maassen. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman has replied to the allegations with a vague denial: "We hope the relevant German organizations, particularly government departments, can speak and act more responsibly."

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Germany is far from the only target of Chinese espionage. In October, the Czech Republic's Security Information Service warned that China is engaged in cyber espionage activities and the manipulation of information networks to promote its interests. In July, Germany's BfV warned that foreign governments, including China, Russia and Turkey, have bolstered industrial espionage efforts in the country, amounting to billions in costs to the German economy each year.]

December 13:

In Xinjiang, authorities have begun collecting biometric data from residents aged 12-65,
the Financial Times reports. Government notices mandate police officers to collect and record pictures, fingerprints, blood type, DNA and iris scans through specially designed mobile apps and a "health check-up program" for all residents. Late last year, authorities began collecting blood samples for DNA tests from residents when they replaced or renewed their ID cards. All provinces require citizens to submit fingerprints and a headshot to renew or obtain an ID card, but not a DNA test. DNA collection is part of a Xinjiang-wide registration system launched in February. Some places like Shandong and Beijing have experimented with limited DNA collection to find missing children or catch criminals, but Xinjiang is the first to implement such policies on a large scale. Since taking office last year, Xinjiang party secretary Chen Quanguo has built thousands of new police stations and heightened electronic surveillance.

December 14:

To help the younger generation "build cultural confidence," the Communist Youth League of Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, in Shenyang, Liaoning has banned the students' union, student associations, and youth league branches from holding any Christmas-related activities. In recent years, some young people have been influenced by Western cultures to become "blindly excited about western holidays," especially Christmas,
the official v reports
. In response, the school's Communist Youth League decided to take action against such activities to help its members "resist the corrosion of Western religious culture."

[EDITOR'S NOTE: In 2015, Northwest University's Modern College, in Xi'an, Shaanxi banned Christmas celebrations on campus. In 2014, some schools in Wenzhou, Zhejiang were forbidden from holding any Christmas-related events after the city education authorities announced a blanket ban covering all high schools, middle schools, primary schools and kindergartens.]

Related Categories: Europe; Democracy & Governance; China; Humanitarian Issues; Human Rights; China and East Asia Program

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