China is harnessing Western social media to provide its military and police with information about foreign targets, according to a new report from the Washington Post.
This revelation was made following the review of hundreds of Chinese tender documents, contracts and records.
This new report says China maintains a nationwide network of data surveillance services that have been developed over the past decade and are used nationally to alert those responsible to politically sensitive information online.
The software, which targets internet users and domestic media, also collects data on foreign targets from sources such as Twitter, Facebook, and other Western social media.
Documents viewed by the Washington-based publication also show that Chinese agencies, including state media, propaganda departments, police, military, and cyber regulators are purchasing new or more sophisticated systems to collect data.
The report says the Chinese state media software program uses Twitter and Facebook to build a database of foreign journalists and academics.
The report further reveals that a Beijing police intelligence program is analyzing Western content on Hong Kong and Taiwan. It also lists Uyghur language content abroad.
“Now we can better understand the underground network of anti-Chinese personnel,” said a Beijing-based analyst who works for a unit under the Central Department of Propaganda of China.
The unit has previously been tasked with producing a data report on how negative content about Beijing’s top leaders is disseminated on Twitter, including profiles of academics, politicians and journalists, according to the report.
“They’re now shifting part of that effort outward, and I think it’s downright terrifying, given the numbers and the scale it’s grown in China,” said Mareike Ohlberg, senior researcher at the German Marshall Fund. , quoted by The Washington Post.
She added, “It really shows that they now feel it is their responsibility to defend China abroad and wage war on public opinion abroad.”
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)