China Condemns US for "Unscrupulous" Global Cyber-Surveillance

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Common Dreams

China Condemns US for "Unscrupulous" Global Cyber-Surveillance

Report out of Beijing catalogs how NSA has targeted government leaders, businesses, and private citizens all over the world

Demonstrators hold signs supporting Edward Snowden outside the Consulate of the United States in Hong Kong last year as they urged the U.S. government to pardon the former contractor. (Kin Cheung, Associated Press)

A Chinese government agency has called out the National Security Agency and the U.S. government for maintaining what it calls an "unscrupulous" global surveillance regime that goes beyond anti-terror operations and traditional espionage by casting a net over entire populations in order to serve its own hegemonic interests.

Following disclosures made possible by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, China's Internet Media Research Center conducted its own investigation into the revelations and the extent of U.S. spying both against China and around the world. Released Monday, the report—entitled The United States' Global Surveillance Record—includes a pointed indictment of the the NSA's international activities, pushes back against the U.S. government's defense of its spy policies, and calls for end to widespread abuse.

According to the report's forward:

As a superpower, the United States takes advantage of its political, economic, military and technological hegemony to unscrupulously monitor other countries, including its allies. The United States' spying operations have gone far beyond the legal rationale of "anti-terrorism" and have exposed its ugly face of pursuing self-interest in complete disregard of moral integrity. These operations have flagrantly breached International laws, seriously infringed upon the human rights and put global cyber security under threat. They deserve to be rejected and condemned by the whole world. [...]

Targets of U.S. surveillance include the Chinese government and Chinese leaders, Chinese companies, scientific research institutes, ordinary netizens, and a large number of cell phone users. China sticks to the path of peaceful development, and sees no justification for being targeted by America's secret surveillance under the guise of fighting terrorism.

America must explain its surveillance activities, cease spying operations that seriously infringe upon human rights and stop creating tension and hostility in global cyber space.

The report comes amid elevated tensions between Beijing and Washington over cyber-espionage and follows recent accusations from the Obama administration that an army of Chinese hackers, under orders from top officials, have been conducting high-level surveillance against U.S. companies. China denies the charges.

In making its case against the scope of U.S. surveillance, the report highlight these examples of NSA spying  against China and other nations:

  • Collecting nearly 5 billion mobile phone call records across the globe every day
  • Spying over German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone for more than 10 years
  • Plugging into the main communication networks between Yahoo's and Google's overseas data centers, and stealing data of hundreds of millions of customers
  • Monitoring mobile phone apps for years and grabbing private data
  • Waging large-scale cyber attacks against China, with both Chinese leaders and the telecom giant Huawei as targets

And the Chinese state news agency Xinhua, citing specific programs directed against China, reports:

Documents revealed by Snowden to Der Spiegel showed that the U.S. has conducted mass cyber-attacks on China, targeting Chinese state leaders and Huawei, the second largest telecom solutions provider in the world, it said.

Attacks were also aimed at the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as Chinese banks and telecommunication companies. According to Der Spiegel, the spying operations also covered several former Chinese state leaders, and government departments and banks.

According to a report in Foreign Policy magazine, the United States has stolen a huge amount of important intelligence information from China and other countries via cyber-attacks carried out by the NSA' s Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO), which was established in 1997.

Citing an interview with Snowden in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the report said the NSA uses numerous methods to hack Chinese telecommunication companies in order to steal the text messages of their users.

Snowden also told the SCMP that the NSA had hacked the servers of Tsinghua University, China's most prestigious university. At least 63 computers and servers were attacked in January, 2013. The SCMP report noted that the attack on Tsinghua University, home to one of six main network backbones -- the China Education and Research Network -- means that data from millions of Chinese citizens may have been stolen.

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