Guard se­crets against spy Net

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

Afe­male sus­pect named Gao Yu was de­tained for leak­ing “state se­crets” to for­eign con­tacts, said Bei­jing po­lice on Thurs­day. Gao, 70, a Bei­jing res­i­dent and a for­mer jour­nal­ist, was sus­pected of il­le­gally ob­tain­ing a highly con­fi­den­tial doc­u­ment of the Chi­nese cen­tral govern­ment and send­ing it to an over­seas web­site in June last year, which later be­came widely cir­cu­lated on for­eign web­sites.

This is the third case re­ported this week on over­seas es­pi­onage, which high­lights the grave chal­lenge to na­tional se­cu­rity. It’s high time the re­lated au­thor­i­ties tight­ened reg­u­la­tions on clas­si­fied documents and raised people’s aware­ness of pro­tect­ing state se­crets.

Early this week, the ex­is­tence of an In­ter­net-based es­pi­onage ring in Guang­dong prov­ince has once again un­der­scored the need to safe­guard mil­i­tary se­crets in the In­ter­net era. The spy net­work came to light when provin­cial se­cu­rity agency dis­cov­ered that a for­eign in­tel­li­gence agency was us­ing the In­ter­net to “re­cruit” Chi­nese na­tion­als to steal China’s mil­i­tary se­crets.

A sus­pect sur­named Li has been sen­tenced to 10 years in prison for leak­ing to a for­eign spy 13 highly clas­si­fied documents and 10 clas­si­fied mil­i­tary se­crets, which he ob­tained by sub­scrib­ing to some in­ter­nally cir­cu­lated mil­i­tary pub­li­ca­tions and mon­i­tor­ing im­por­tant mil­i­tary bases in Guang­dong. Li has passed on a large num­ber of pho­to­graphs of these bases and other cru­cial mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties to the for­eign in­tel­li­gence agency.

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion given by the provin­cial au­thor­i­ties, a for­eign spy known as “Feige” re­cruited 12 Chi­nese na­tion­als in the prov­ince and 40 oth­ers in other parts of the coun­try to col­lect valu­able in­for­ma­tion on China’s mil­i­tary. Re­ports sug­gest that “Feige” tar­geted youths in­ter­ested in mil­i­tary mat­ters and un­sus­pect­ing stu­dents through some In­ter­net cha­t­rooms, com­mu­ni­ties, cam­pus fo­rums and job-seek­ing web­sites.

Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials have also de­tected about 30 cases of Chi­nese stu­dents be­ing “re­cruited” or tar­geted through the In­ter­net by an­other for­eign spy called “Li Hua” since 2012. Na­tional se­cu­rity agencies have con­firmed the find­ings on the ba­sis of sound ev­i­dence, say­ing most of the stu­dents were “ap­proached” on on­line cha­t­rooms or job-seek­ing web­sites.

China is not the only coun­try to be tar­geted by “In­ter­net spies”. The United States, known for its highly de­vel­oped in­tel­li­gence in­fra­struc­ture and for spy­ing on other coun­tries, has also fallen vic­tim to In­ter­net spy­ing. The per­sonal in­for­ma­tion on 100,000 US Navy andMarine of­fi­cers and soldiers was leaked in 2006 cre­at­ing shock­waves in the Amer­i­can in­tel­li­gence set-up. The leak­age turned out to be the re­sult of a ca­sual dis­clo­sure of their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing their names, so­cial se­cu­rity num­bers, ser­vice units and some work pho­to­graphs on the US’Ma­rine safety web­site a few months ear­lier.

US mil­i­tary ex­perts had then warned that the per­sonal data con­tained some clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion. For in­stance, they said the US’ mil­i­tary de­ploy­ment plans could be traced by an­a­lyz­ing the in­tro­duc­tions to the per­son­nel’s ser­vice units.

The leak­age came only two weeks af­ter the names, dates of birth and so­cial se­cu­rity num­bers of 28,000 USMarines and their rel­a­tives were pub­lished by a civil­ian web­site, ac­ces­si­ble to all In­ter­net users.

The se­ries of leak­ages prove that even the coun­try with the most sound and fool­proof in­tel­li­gence net­work can fall vic­tim to spy­ing or ca­sual acts of com­mis­sion if it doesn’t take nec­es­sary and ap­pro­pri­ate safe­guard mea­sures.

The de­vel­op­ment of the In­ter­net in China has been rapid over the past decade; in fact, the coun­try now has the high­est num­ber of In­ter­net users in the world. But it is still far from be­ing a cy­ber power, both in terms of soft­ware de­vel­op­ment and safe­guard­ing in­for­ma­tion. A large num­ber of Chi­nese ne­ti­zens are yet to de­velop the nec­es­sary risk-alert aware­ness even though they make full use of the lim­it­less cy­berspace.

In an in­ter­viewwith Bei­jing Tele­vi­sion in 2013, Zhang Zhaozhong, a Chi­nese mil­i­tary ex­pert, had said that the US could steal some mil­i­tary se­crets from China by mak­ing some Chi­nese ne­ti­zens un­con­sciously play the role of spies via the In­ter­net.

The suc­cess of a mil­i­tary strat­egy dur­ing a war de­pends, to a large ex­tent, on how well it is kept a se­cret. So, China should spare no ef­forts in safe­guard­ing its mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence, es­pe­cially at a time when it is deeply en­gaged in pro­tect­ing its sovereignty and ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity.

In a move to meet the new se­crecy chal­lenges fac­ing China and make its mil­i­tary more se­cure, the Cen­tralMil­i­tary Com­mis­sion of the Com­mu­nist Party of China has is­sued a doc­u­ment say­ing mil­i­tary se­crets should be bet­ter pro­tected. To achieve this, the au­thor­i­ties should take mea­sures to plug all the pos­si­ble loop­holes in In­ter­net man­age­ment and brace them­selves for an in­creas­ingly fierce In­ter­net war­fare, which in most cases is car­ried out sur­rep­ti­tiously.

Ev­ery Chi­nese ne­ti­zen can help the coun­try in this war­fare by re­frain­ing from post­ing sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion on the In­ter­net, con­sciously or un­con­sciously. While surf­ing the In­ter­net, ev­ery Chi­nese ne­ti­zen should guard against be­ing used as a spy­ing tool by some for­eign in­tel­li­gence agency or the other.

And since al­most all mag­a­zines and pe­ri­od­i­cals have on­line edi­tions, the au­thor­i­ties should for­mu­late a set of strict pub­li­ca­tion and circulation rules and meth­ods for mil­i­tary pe­ri­od­i­cals to pre­vent for­eign spies from eas­ily ac­cess­ing them and steal­ing China’s se­crets. The au­thor is a se­nior writer with China Daily. wuy­ixue@chi­nadaily.com.cn.

PANG LI / CHINA DAILY

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