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Comac C919 Aircraft Development Benefited from Secrets Hacked from Western Companies

Crowdstrike, a U.S. cybersecurity research and consulting firm, recently released a report that examined China’s series of aggressive and frequent hacking operations that occurred during the years when Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd. (Comac) was developing its C919 commercial aircraft. Officials from China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS), underground hacking groups and personnel, cyber security researchers, and employees (moles) of multiple companies in many countries were involved in the operations. The purpose of these hacking operations was to assist Comac’s development of the C919 commercial aircraft, obtain a large number of intellectual property rights from foreign companies, narrow the gap between China’s aviation industry and foreign manufacturers capable of making large passenger aircraft, and eventually to be able to compete with industry giants Boeing and Airbus.

Crowdstrike’s report revealed that MSS designated the Jiangsu provincial State Security division to carry out hacking attacks, while the Jiangsu division appointed two coordinators. One coordinator led the hacking team and the other was responsible for recruiting people from aerospace companies in different countries. Between 2010-2015, the hackers attacked a list of companies including U.S. electronic instruments and electromechanical devices manufacturer Ametek, U.S. multinational conglomerate Honeywell that produces engineering services and aerospace systems, French multinational aircraft engine, rocket engine, aerospace-component and defense company Safran, U.S. gas turbine manufacturer Capstone, and General Electric.

These hacking operations are different from similar actions in the past. They attempted to recruit and utilize China’s underground hacking gangs whose mission is to gain access to the target company’s network and install malware such as Sakula, PlugX, and Winnti, use these software to find the proprietary intellectual property and trade secrets of the target company, and send the information to the remote servers. If these practices were unsuccessful, another MSS team would try to recruit Chinese employees in the target company and have them install malware on the company’s computer network.

Source: Radio Free Asia, October 15, 2019

BBC Chinese: China’s Naval Power Is Only behind the U.S.

BBC Chinese recently published an analysis on the growth of China’s Navy after the Cold War. With the end of the Soviet Union, the post Cold War period gave China a golden period of time to develop its economic power, which made China the only country that has the potential of establishing an aircraft-carrier-centered navy which is only behind the U.S. fleets. China’s media have been widely reporting on a new China-made carrier, which in August did its final trial sail before delivery. International observers observed that China has been speeding up its aircraft carrier shipbuilding. It is highly likely that China is aiming to build the next generation nuclear-powered carriers. The currently under-construction third Chinese carrier is expected to have important technology achievements. Assuming there is no major economic downturn, the Chinese economy can sustain a carrier-based navy. Today, China has the second highest military budget in the world. Russia is only number six. Chinese military officials commented in a number of earlier press interviews saying that China may need a minimum of five or six aircraft carriers to have “enough” in service with rotating maintenance schedules.

Source: BBC Chinese, September 25, 2019

Global Times: Chinese Armed Unmanned Aircraft Exported to Europe for the First Time

Global Times recently reported that, according to the Defense Ministry of Serbia, Serbia will purchase armed unmanned aircraft from China. This was announced after a Chinese military delegation visited Serbia. This is the first time China has exported armed unmanned aircraft to a European country. The deal includes nine Chengdu Pterodactyl I (also known as Wing Loong I) unmanned aircraft. It was agreed that Serbia may purchase another 15 in the future. The Pterodactyl series of unmanned aircraft was first developed in 2007, with the first large batch delivery in 2010. China has exported this model to several countries in the past several years, including the United Arab Emirates. As of the end of last year, China had shipped 100 Pterodactyl aircraft to overseas customers. Serbia stated that this deal strengthened the military power of the nation. The first delivery to Serbia is expected to occur in the next few months.

Source: Global Times, September 11, 2019

Liberty Times: Beijing Is Planning to Impose Martial Law in Hong Kong

According to Liberty Times, Guo Wengui, a wealthy Chinese businessman who applied for asylum in exile in the United States, said in a live broadcast on August 1 that he has obtained internal information from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that the Communist Party has fully issued a statement of its intent to declare martial law in Hong Kong!

Guo said that the CCP’s preliminary plan is to start implementing the martial law between August 4 and 6, subject to the situation on the 5th of the development of the upcoming August 5th protest. All groups of people, including the Hong Kong government staff, are planning to participate in that protest. The CCP’s martial law is said to be based on China’s National Security Law and the PLA’s Garrison Law in Hong Kong, and is to be “at the request of the Hong Kong Government.”

Guo pointed out that, during the period of martial law in Hong Kong, basically no person will be allowed to enter Hong Kong but only to exit. Both the Hong Kong Government and the PLA’s Garrison will establish the martial law headquarters. It will control the food, drink, medicine and medical treatment, and society’s security. One country with two systems will die completely.

It is said that foreign personnel and institutions stationed in Hong Kong will be investigated and the protesters, who have been on the streets since June 9, will be arrested.

Source: Liberty Times, August 2, 2019

RFI: China to Hold Military Exercise in South China Sea

China announced that it will hold a military exercise in the South China Sea from June 29th to July 3rd, and identified the 22,000 square kilometers (8,494 square meters) in the South China Sea region as a “no-fly zone.” The Central News Agency pointed out that, in the past, China had also designated a temporary “no-fly zone” in the South China Sea on the grounds of military training, but almost all of such designations were in the coastal areas of Guangdong or Hainan Island. This time, the scope will be delineated far from the land. As for what kind of military training the Chinese military will hold in this vast sea area, it is still unknown. According to past practices, if there is military training, the Chinese official media will report it in a few days after the event is concluded.

Source: Radio France Internationale, June 30, 2019

HK Mingpao: It Appears China Is Constructing Its Third Aircraft Carrier

Mingpao, one of the primary Hong Kong newspapers, recently reported that, according to satellite pictures, China is currently constructing a third aircraft carrier in Shanghai. China may equip this carrier with an ejection system. The Chinese official news media mentioned the possibility of constructing a third aircraft carrier last year. However, no further details were released after that. The latest satellite pictures now show that a large ship is being built at the Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard, where multiple new workshops have also recently been constructed. Massive lifters were identified, as well as a large number of prebuilt components. Based on the sizes of the shown components, the new ship will be larger than the second aircraft carrier that is currently in sea trials. It’s unclear if the new ship has nuclear power. Anonymous sources suggested that the new carrier will not be nuclear-powered, but it will deploy electromagnetic ejection technology. The Chinese Ministry of Defense refused to comment.

Source: Mingpao, May 8, 2019