China Starts Gathering Data On ‘American Targets’ — Guess Why?

China is using its huge surveillance network to get social media data of Western targets, according to a new Washington Post review of “many hundreds of Chinese documents and company filings.”

The CCP is bringing in Western social media — like Twitter and Facebook — to “equip its agencies, military and police with data on foreign targets.”

“China has a nationwide network of government surveillance services — named public opinion software — that were created over the previous decade and are used mostly to warn officials of politically important data online,” The Washington Post said. “The software mostly targets China’s domestic media and internet, but a new investigation of bidding documents for more than 300 Chinese government projects after 2020 include orders for software created to collect information on foreign targets from places like Facebook, Twitter and other Western social media.”

These documents also show that “agencies including the state media, military, police and cyber regulators are buying new sophisticated systems to get data.”

“These include a $320,000 China-made software program that mines Facebook and twitter to create a database of foreign reporters and academics; a $216,000 Beijing police intel. program that analyzes Western chatter about Taiwan; and a cybercenter in the city of Xinjiang, home to the Uyghur population, that catalogues the mostly Muslim minority group’s language content on the internet,” The Washington Post said.

One Chinese analyst stated that this system allows them to “better know the underground network of anti-China personnel.” One such project they had involved “giving a data report on how negative content connecting to Beijing’s top leadership is spread through Twitter, including profiles of the academics journalists.”

This huge surveillance effort is part of the country’s mission to “boost its foreign propaganda efforts using big data and AI,” The Post said, as part of “a group of warning systems created to sound fast alarms for trends that harm Beijing’s interests.”

Mareike Ohlberg has researched the country’s domestic public opinion network as a top fellow at the German Marshall Fund, and stated that China is now “reorienting a part of this effort outward.”

Ohlberg said the move was “frankly very terrifying,” and that it “really proves that they now feel it is their responsibility to defend China and fight public opinion overseas.”

Author: Scott Dowdy