China eaves­drop­ping

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

Pen­tagon of­fi­cials tell us China is en­gaged in mas­sive elec­tronic eaves­drop­ping through a se­ries of ground sta­tions, many in west­ern China. Some sta­tions can now be viewed­with­outa se­cu­rity clear­ance for the first time from high-res­o­lu­tion satel­lite pho­to­graphs re­cently made avail­able on Google Earth.

The of­fi­cials said Chi­nese mil­i­tary and civil­ian intelligence units op­er­ate sev­eral key fa­cil­i­ties in west­ern China that are col­lect­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of e-mails, among other elec­tronic sig­nals, that tran­sit cy­berspace through satel­lites. Us­ing large dish an­ten­nas, the sig­nals intelligence sites take the data and fil­ter it us­ing high-speed com­put­ers and com­mer­cial soft­ware ob­tained from U.S. com­pa­nies.

By putting in key words, the Chi­nese eaves­drop­pers can gain valu­able intelligence for both their mil­i­tary and­com­mer­cial­pro­grams,the of­fi­cials said.

One fa­cil­ity is lo­cat­ed­nearChangi in north­west­ern China, which we first iden­ti­fied in this col­umn in 2000 as it was be­ing ex­panded with the ad­di­tion of new satel­lite dishes. The Changi lis­ten­ing post is op­er­ated by the mil­i­tary intelligence unit known as the 3rd De­part­ment, 12th Bureau. It spieson­for­eign satel­lites and is thought to be part of China’s an­ti­satel­lite pro­gram. A sec­ond ma­jor fa­cil­ity is lo­cated at Shule.

AthirdChi­nese elec­tronic spy­ing fa­cil­ity at Kashi was able to pre­dict the start of the U.S. ground war in Iraqin1991 five daysbe­fore it be­gan by in­ter­cept­ing Saudi Ara­bian mil­i­tary com­mu­ni­ca­tions, intelligence of­fi­cials said.

Tim Brown, an im­agery an­a­lyst with Tal­, said the Chi­nese eaves­drop­ping sites gather vast amounts of data tran­sit­ing from Europe to Asia.

“They’ve got enough of a ca­pa­bil­ity to se­lec­tively scoop up on a very nar­row set of tar­gets,” Mr. Brown said, not­ing that the in­for­ma­tion is use­ful for eco­nomic es­pi­onage as well as mil­i­tary com­mu­ni­ca­tions traf­fic anal­y­sis.

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