3 minute readUK leak warns of growing Chinese tech spying

A document recently leaked by the website Wikileaks has revealed the concerns of British intelligence agencies about the focus of Chinese spies increasing in scope from stealing technology and reverse-engineering it to include the understanding of production techniques and methodologies in order to reproduce them cheaply and also warns of the military implications of such an increased focus.

The 2,389 page document, in its estimate of Chinese intelligence aims, says, “Chinese intelligence activity is widespread and has a voracious appetite for all kinds of information; political, military,commercial, scientific and technical. It is on this area that the Chinese place their highest priority and where we assess that the greatest risk lies.”

The document elaborates, “The Chinese have realized that it is not productive to simply steal technology and then try to `reverse engineer it’. Through intelligence activity they now attempt to acquire an in-depth understanding of production techniques and methodologies. There is an obvious economic risk to the UK. Our hard earned processes at very little cost and then reproduce them with cheap labor. ”

Warning further, the document says, “It is also, potentially, more serious than the above. In certain key military areas China is at least a generation behind the West. The Chinese may be able to acquire illegally the technology that will enable them to catch up. The real danger is that they will then produce advanced weapons systems which they will sell to unstable regimes. They have a track record of doing so. The consequences for the world’s trouble spots and any UK involvement there could be disastrous.”

The UK military protocol for security operations, including counter-intelligence, formally known as the UK Ministry of Defense Manual of Security Volumes 1, 2 and 3 Issue 2, JSP-440, RESTRICTED, also lays down expected Chinese tactics for intelligence gathering.

“Chinese intelligence activity is very different to the portrayal of `Moscow Rules’ in the novels of John Le Carre. The Chinese make no distinction between `information’ and `intelligence’. Their appetite for information, particularly in the scientific and technical field, is vast and indiscriminate. They do not `run agents’ they `make friends’. Although there are Chinese `intelligence officers’, both civilian and military, these fade into insignificance behind the mass of ordinary students, businessmen and locally employed staff who are working (at least part-time) on the orders of various parts of the State intelligence gathering apparatus,” says the document, adding, “The process of being cultivated as a `friend of China’ (ie. an `agent’) is subtle and long-term. The Chinese are adept at exploiting a visitor’s interest in, and appreciation of, Chinese history and culture. They are expert flatterers and are well aware of the `softening’ effect of food and alcohol. Under cover of consultation or lecturing, a visitor may be given favors, advantageous economic conditions or commercial opportunities. In return they will be expected to give information or access to material. Or, at the very least, to speak out on China’s behalf (becoming an `agent of influence’). ”

The manual also indicates the Chinese use of tactics compromising their targets, saying, “The Chinese intelligence services have been known to use blackmail to persuade visitors to work for them. Sexual involvement should be avoided, as should any activity which can possible be construed as illegal. This would include dealing in black market currency or Chinese antiques and artifacts, straying into `forbidden’ areas or injudicious use of a camera or video recorder.”

Wikileaks is an international platform for the first release of classified, confidential or censored materials of political, diplomatic, ethical or historical interest. It was founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and startup company technologists from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa. The website specializes in the leaking of secret documents and information in the public interest. Wikileaks is also blocked by the Chinese government.

The website’s Advisory Board consists of Phillip Adams, writer, broadcaster & film maker, Julian Assange, investigative journalist, programmer and activist, Wang Dan, leading Tiananmen dissident & historian, CJ Hinke, Writer, Academic, Activist, Ben Laurie, internet security expert, Tashi Namgyal Khamsitsang, Tibetan exile & activist, Xiao Qiang, Chinese human rights activist, Chico Whitaker, Brazilian social justice advocate and Wang Youcai, founder of the Chinese Democracy Party & physicist.

Read the summary of the document.

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