China buys U.S. technology to spy on its citizens — RFA

As transfers have become more frequent, Chinese public security entities have been acquiring U.S. technology, especially DNA-analysis equipment needed for mass surveillance, a new report finds.

that report “The Role of American Technology in China’s Public Security System” The transfer of technology used by public security agencies, including those in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, from U.S. companies to Chinese firms, was widespread, disclosed by the Insikt Group, a U.S. intelligence and security research agency.

From DNA analysis to thermal imaging, from data storage to digital forensics and cybersecurity, a huge amount of U.S. technology has been transferred into the Chinese public security system.

Surveillance and counter-surveillance are the main focus of technology transfer, the report said.

“In some cases, Chinese public security agencies will almost certainly look to U.S. companies for technology because foreign products outperform their domestic counterparts,” it said.

In other cases, the technology was acquired “to ensure compatibility” because it was already used by Chinese groups.

According to the report, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region’s public security department “appears to have purchased at least 481 hard drives from Seagate and Western Digital” in early to mid-2022, including drives dedicated to surveillance and communications with leading surveillance providers in China.

Seagate Technology Holdings and Western Digital are both well-known data storage companies in the United States.

“Other entities in Xinjiang, such as the paramilitary prison affiliated with the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, have also recently made surveillance-oriented purchases of Seagate or Western Digital hard drives,” it said.

another report News released last year also said U.S. tech companies were supplying Chinese surveillance states with equipment and software to monitor populations and censor information, including in Xinjiang.

Western governments and human rights groups condemn Beijing Surveillance and other abusive policies targeting the region’s 12 million Muslim Uighurs, they say constitute genocide and crimes against humanity. China has repeatedly denied the allegations.

A Chinese flag is seen behind barbed wire in the Yangjisar residential area in southern Kashgar, western Xinjiang, China, June 4, 2019.
Credit: Greg Baker/AFP

“Very common transfer”

“When I started my research, I didn’t expect these technology transfers to be so common,” said report author Zoe Haver.

She started the project by looking at transfers of counter-surveillance equipment used by the U.S. military and U.S. law enforcement, but in the process, she discovered that Chinese public security entities were purchasing U.S. technology for use in many other areas, such as aviation, DNA analysis, thermal imaging , optics, surveillance, cybersecurity, network infrastructure and data storage.

“With some of the technologies I track, such as DNA analysis equipment, I observe new purchases almost every day. These transfers are very common in China,” she told RFA.

Chinese public security agencies have been on the lookout for DNA analysis equipment, an area in which reliance on U.S. technology is “most pronounced,” the analyst said.

“The device could potentially be used to help build population databases and conduct mass surveillance,” Haver said.

Entities affiliated with the powerful Ministry of Public Security (MPS) have been acquiring U.S. technology through industry exhibitions, third-party agents and distributors, and even legitimate channels of U.S. companies’ local subsidiaries in China.

The recent increase in U.S. companies being acquired by Chinese companies has “promoted the development of China’s domestic industry and the sale of U.S. products to public security end users,” the report said.

Another factor is the increasingly common cross-border flow of talent in the age of globalization.

U.S. control response

Haval, who compiled the report by sifting through thousands of public Chinese government procurement records, said she was shocked by the volume of procurement documents.

In response to state violence perpetrated by Chinese public security organs, especially in Xinjiang, the U.S. government has taken some steps in recent years to restrict the transfer of U.S. technology to them.

The Export Control Reform Act of 2018 refers to programs with law enforcement-related applications and states that “U.S. export control policies shall serve to protect human rights.”

In 2019 and 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security added 21 Chinese public security entities (in addition to various Chinese companies) to its list of export licensing restrictions.

But the Insikt report raises questions about the “effectiveness of current U.S. export controls targeting Chinese public security entities and the Chinese companies that support them.”

“If third-party distributors and agents play such a prominent role in the technology transfer process, the U.S. government may find it difficult to enforce effective export restrictions,” Haver told RFA.

Source link