Germany’s 2009 Constitution Protection Report reveals intelligence activities by China’s communist regime.
Germany’s Ministry of the Interior released the government’s annual Constitution Protection Report on June 21, 2010. The report deals with terrorist and espionage activities the German government considers a security problem for their country.
The following is a translation of pages 294-300 which pertains to espionage and other intelligence related activities by the People’s Republic of China.
III. Intelligence Services of the People’s Republic of China
1. Developments in the People’s Republic of China
Dictatorship and economic stability
The People’s Republic of China is a communist state under the dictatorial rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It has nevertheless, during the past two decades, developed its economy increasingly according to market-based principles, and has experienced a steep upturn. During the global financial crisis China’s economy has shown itself as relatively stable, to which its steadily increasing importance in world trade attests.
Armament and demonstrations of power
The economic development not only improves the living standard of large levels of society, but also enables a long-term military development of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The People’s Republic is demonstrating her growing power, especially through the acquisition of modern weapons as well as the improvement of its air and sea strike forces.
Oppression and turmoil in Xinjiang
Despite increasing social free zones, the government, as before, keeps oppressing 'undesirable' people and organizations--often in disregard of human rights. Ethnic and religious minorities are often the target of oppressive policies and central power. Unrest resulting from this oppression in March 2008 in Tibet, and in the Muslim Uighur populated region of Xinjiang in July 2009, was forcibly struck down by Chinese security forces.
2. Structures and functions
The most important goal of the CCP is the defense of its monopoly on power. The Party views people with other views as threats to its position, goes against them with massive state repression, and emphatically secures its absolute control over the areas inhabited by ethnic minorities. In addition the Party makes use of intelligence services that have comprehensive authority and are not limited by rule of law.
MSS and MID
In particular, the Ministry of State Security (MSS) and the Military Intelligence Department (MID) are developing reconnaissance activities in the Federal Republic of Germany.
The civil intelligence service MSS possesses a large body of personnel in China; in cases of state security threats it has police powers; and it takes a central role in espionage in foreign countries. Undercover members of MSS are also active in Germany, and they are making efforts to obtain knowledge regarding various subjects.
The MID is part of the PLA and seeks information pertaining to international security and also to the PLA’s military capabilities.
The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) also employs methods of intelligence gathering even though it is actually the central Ministry of Police. As its function is the general maintenance of public safety, it holds a key position in suppression of internal unrest.The MPS attempts to obtain information about population groups that are viewed by the CCP as security threats. It also watches the Internet in China and is therefore in a position to monitor the electronic communication of foreign-owned company branches.
3. Targeting economic espionage
Chinese intelligent services know the importance of economic development for maintaining internal order as well as for strengthening China’s position as a rising super power. They therefore make efforts to obtain sensitive information from the German economic sector, including knowledge about new products and manufacturing processes or cutting edge research.
Because of the intertwining of State and enterprise, it is generally hard to determine whether a Chinese economic-type spying activity originates from a state agency or whether it is a (private) firm spying on its competition.
Fighting the “Five Poisons”
The Chinese government defames groups of people it considers the greatest danger to its own rule, calling these the “Five Poisons.” It [the government] fights them not only at home, but even spies on their adherents who live in Germany. Affected are most of all those whom China suspects of separatism: Uighurs and Tibetans, as well as adherents of the meditation movement Falun Gong. Beyond these, China’s communist party also considers members of the democracy movement and advocates for an independent Taiwan as state enemies.
Politics and military
The intelligence agencies have a need for information regarding the attitude of the Federal Republic of Germany vis-à-vis the People’s Republic, as well as its policies within international organizations, such as the EU. In view of the PLA’s modernization, the development and structure of the Bundeswehr [German army], its role in NATO, and the palette of products of the German armament industry are important reconnaissance targets.
4.1 Information Gathering in Germany
In general Chinese intelligence agencies go about information gathering in Germany in an extremely cautious manner and try to avoid attention.
They make use of official residences of their homeland as cover for their dispatched personnel. Besides the Embassy in Berlin they also maintain legal residences in the general consulates in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich. Further opportunities available to the agencies are through collaboration with Chinese journalists who are accredited in Germany.
Use of open sources
Intelligence agencies begin their intelligence search first of all by evaluating freely available information sources, such as press reports, professional literature, and publications on the Internet. In addition they visit public events; discussion groups, seminars and conventions, for example.
‘Skimming’ of contact persons
Intelligence agency personnel make use of contacts they have built within the framework of their official activities. Agency personnel, trained in communication, attempt through skillful conversation to elicit information from persons who would generally not reveal them. Targets of such ‘skimming’ efforts are, among others, representatives of German government agencies and businesses, but also soldiers or scientists.
Building of relationships
Of special interest are contacts persons who not only have access to sensitive information, but who also show an elevated understanding of the interests of the People’s Republic.
Intelligence agency personnel strive for a personal relationship. With repeated meetings, invitations to restaurants, gifts and words of encouragement they try to build a friendship bond. Through this long-term process they “cultivate” interesting information carriers in the hope that these persons will do their supposed friends a favor or will give up sensitive information.
Non-professionals and delegations
Additional opportunities for intelligence gathering offer themselves through the intensive interstate cooperation of commerce and science. Through this, approximately 80,000 Chinese live and work in Germany, among them many scientists, graduate students and students. The intelligence agencies know the information potential of these persons. They aquire an overview of their connections, build contacts and try to woo individuals to work with them. During this process intelligence agency personnel point out to their compatriots the privilege of being able to work in Germany and at the same time appeal to their patriotism. The use of these so-called nonprofessionals has the advantage that in the event a spying attempt is discovered, it is not obvious whether it was initiated by an individual or on state orders.
The same situation takes place with visiting Chinese commerce representatives in German firms. During past years members of delegations have repeatedly drawn attention to their spying efforts. Although state involvement could not be ascertained in these activities, however, the involved delegates of Chinese firms don’t seem to fear any consequences in their homeland. One example of such efforts:
In September 2009 a firm in southern Germany was visited by their Chinese business partner. This person drew attention when he took pictures with a hidden mini-camera during a tour of the plant. Police were called who then placed the visitor in custody. After a three month investigation and payment of 80,000 Euro in damages, he was sentenced to 18 months probation (for spying on the competition).
4.2 Fighting the “Five Poisons” in Germany
Compared to their information collection in the areas of politics, military and economy, Chinese intelligence agencies are acting in a clearly more aggressive fashion in their reconnaissance and fight against the “Five Poisons” (see No. 3).
Surveillance of the “Five Poisons”
One focal point is the monitoring of relevant activities. These include the observation of public events, such as discussion groups about the situation in Tibet, demonstrations by Uighurs, or information about the Falun Gong spiritual practice. The agencies also receive information through Chinese journalists.
Activities at the Frankfurt Book Fair
The Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2009 was of particular interest to the Chinese intelligence agencies. China was a partner country at the Book Fair, but in spite of several attempts, was not able to prevent the participation of writers critical of the government or a presentation by the president of the World Uighur Congress (WUC).
Members of the legal residences were observing and taking pictures of China-critical exhibitors during the Fair.
Preliminary legal proceedings against four persons
The activities directed against the “Five Poisons” has also led to preliminary legal proceedings by the Chief State Prosecutor of four alleged informers of the Chinese information agencies on suspicion of secret agent activities (§ 99 StGB). These were preceded by large-scale preliminary investigations by German State agencies. On November 24, 2009, police searched the residences of the accused. The four individuals were born in China and two had obtained German citizenship. They are under suspicion of spying on the exiled Uighur community. Orders came from a member of the MSS residing at the Chinese Consulate in Munich. He returned to China in December 2009 before of the end of his term.
Information obtained through intelligence collection help Chinese authorities to put individual persons in China under pressure, and to lump all those belonging to the “Five Poison” groups into the categories of violent criminals or terrorists. The alleged dangers coming from the “Five Poisons” as well as hints of possible effects on German-Chinese relations are meant to cause German authorities to move against these groups of people.
In 2009 the focal point of such activities was directed against Uighurs living in exile. The violent suppression of unrest in Xinjiang at the beginning of July 2009, and the following death sentence rulings, resulted in the loss of an unknown number of human lives in China. Because of these occurrences, Uighurs in Germany also held several demonstrations. Unknown offenders also staged an attempted arson event at the Chinese Consulate in Munich; however it caused only small property damage.
Preventing 'undesirable' events
A main focal point of the intelligence agencies are 'undesirable' events which they try to prevent, or at least to obstruct them. This concerned the Falun Gong organized show, Divine Performing Arts, which included themes of the persecution against the group. The Chinese Consulate General in Frankfurt verbally expressed its protest of the event to the county government of Hessen. The protest was, however, fruitless.
4.3 Activities inside China
Surveillance of Citizens and Travelers
Chinese security authorities monitor their own population through strict media control--especially the Internet--among others. In July 2009, computer manufacturers were required by law to pre install new computers with the software “green dam.” This software was supposedly meant for youth protection, but it allowed authorities generally to monitor electronic communications. Although the law was not passed, it may still lead to the spread of this software.
Surveillance also extends to visitors from foreign countries. Business people may already be monitored during the border crossing, and may furthermore have their electronic communications listened in on, as well as having their behavior documented at hotels or in public.
China has for years been the origin of large-scale spying attempts through the Internet. E-mails that include mal-ware are being sent out worldwide to private individuals, enterprises and government agencies (Chapter VI).