According to a new report from The Washington Post, China is mining Western social media to equip its military and police with information on foreign targets. The revelation was made after reviewing hundreds of Chinese bidding documents, contracts and company filings.
This new report says China maintains a nationwide network of data surveillance services that were developed over the past decade and used domestically to warn officials online of politically sensitive information.
The software, which targets domestic Internet users and media, collects data on foreign targets from sources such as Twitter, Facebook and other Western social media.
Documents obtained by the Washington-based publication also show that Chinese agencies, including state media, propaganda departments, police, military and cyber regulators, are buying new or more sophisticated systems for gathering data.
The report said the Chinese state media software program mined Twitter and Facebook to create a database of foreign journalists and academics.
The report further suggests that an intelligence program of the Beijing Police analyzes Western material on Hong Kong and Taiwan. It also lists Uyghur language material abroad.
“Now we can better understand the underground network of anti-China personnel,” said a Beijing-based analyst who works for a unit reporting to China’s central propaganda department.
According to the report, the unit was once tasked with preparing a data report on how negative content related to Beijing’s senior leadership spread on Twitter, including profiles of individual academics, politicians and journalists.
“They’re now taking part of that effort outwards, and I think it’s frankly terrifying,” said Mareik Ohlberg, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, given the sheer number and widespread of what was taken inside China. Looking at the scale.” Washington Post.
She said: “It really shows that they now feel that it is their responsibility to protect China abroad and to fight public opinion wars abroad.”