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China’s MSS Calls for Heightened Cybersecurity to Combat Foreign “Cyber Spies”

Chinese officials are pushing a society-wide “anti-espionage” campaign targeting the cyber sector. China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) says that cyberspace has become an “important battleground” for foreign spy agencies conducting espionage against China, worsening the country’s cybersecurity.

A recent MSS article titled “How Do ‘Cyber Spies’ Take Advantage of the Situation?” says foreign “cyber spies” targeting Chinese organizations and enterprises have been able to exploit security oversights, workplace negligence, and employees’ “pursuit of convenience.” By various means, they attack information systems to establish hidden data channels and steal sensitive data, jeopardizing China’s data and network security.

The article cites several cases. One involves a military-civilian enterprise whose outdated, vulnerable software systems were hacked by “cyber spies.” They allegedly stole important production, business, and customer data, threatening military tech development and security.

The article also says that foreign “cyber spies” heavily target Chinese “software supply chain” companies via phishing and network scanning. In particular, they steal secrets by attacking system administrators who are authorized to manage networks.

The article concludes by stressing the importance of preventative measures to promote counterintelligence security. It urges key Chinese units to strengthen their daily security management of technology per preventative counterespionage requirements and standards. The goal is to bolster prevention measures for key department networks, facilities, and information systems.

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 16, 2024

Video Clip Containing Pro-Democracy Innuendo Spread Widely in China on Lunar New Year

China has produced many TV dramas about the the Chinese Civil War (1946-1949), when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) defeated the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) and took control of mainland China.

During the 2024 Chinese New Year, people spread a video clip of the TV drama Bright Sword, where a CCP military commander motivates his soldiers to fight in the civil war. In the video the commander says, “People are struggling to survive, and inflation is rampant. Shouldn’t we overthrow such a dictatorial, corrupt, and dark government? Brothers, now is the time to decide the future of a nation. Every Chinese with a conscience should make his choice. I, Zhao Gang, make this choice: to demand democracy, demand freedom, overthrow the dictatorial regime, topple the fascist dictatorship, and establish a new China where the people are in charge.”

The clip is now spreading because what was said in the video can be interpreted as referring to the current leadership of China by the CCP.

Source: X Platform, February 10, 2024

Hong Kong Crowd Wards Off Arrest of Street Musician Playing Anti-CCP Protest Song

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has broken its promise regarding the principle of “One Country Two Systems,” putting Hong Kong under tighter and tighter control. The people of Hong Kong, however, have not surrendered to political pressure from the CCP.

Earlier this month a youtube video was published showing a street musician playing the English version of the anti-CCP protest song “Glory to Hong Kong” (愿荣光归香港) with his guitar and amplifier.

Several police officers surrounded the young man and yelled at him to stop playing. As the officers began to manhandle the musician, bystanders that had gathered began to shout out in the man’s defense, and one officer is seen looking around nervously. The police eventually backed off as a substantial crowd had gathered and many people were shouting that the man had not committed any crime. The man resumed playing, this time singing the Chinese version of the song, and many people joined in chorus as the officers stood by and watched. At the end of the video, the man is seen leaving with his belongings as the police continue to stand by.

The song “Glory to Hong Kong” became well known during the 2019-2020 protests in Hong Kong. It has been called “the anthem of Hong Kong’s anti-CCP protests.”


YouTube, February 6, 2024

“Glory to Hong Kong,” WIkipedia, retrieved February 20, 2024

Chinese Netizens Mock CCP’s Staged Picture

China News Service, one of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) mouthpieces, released a short video on the X delivering a propaganda message about “soldiers guarding the border despite being covered in frost.” Sharp-eyed netizens discovered discrepancies in the picture and concluded that it must have  been staged. The posting was circulated widely on social media, attracting numerous onlookers and much ridicule.

Here are some comments that were posted in response to the China News Service tweet:

  • “With so much snow, why is there not a single snowflake on the railing? And the clothes and guns are also clean. Besides staging scenes to stir up people’s emotion, does the CCP’s Propaganda Department have any other specialties? 😂”
  • “Why is there only frost on the face and hat, while the rest of the body and the gun have none?”
  • “Would anyone be stupid enough to let frost accumulate on their face like this? 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 Sigh… (the media) loves to act…”
  • “The eyes are covered, why not clean them? How can they detect enemy movements?”
  • “It’s fake, staged! The necks of these two individuals are exposed. In temperatures of minus ten degrees, if we go by the amount of frost on the masks, their necks would have frozen to death already.”

Source: Aboluo, February 11, 2024

Chinese Stock Investors Vent Frustration in Comments on US Embassy Weibo Posts

The Chinese stock market has been continuously declining since mid-2023, reaching new lows as the Shanghai Composite Index fell below 2,700 points on February 2nd. Many investors who suffered heavy losses flooded the comments section on the official Weibo account of the U.S. Embassy in China, venting their frustration or imploring the United States to take over the Chinese stock market. (Weibo is a Chinese social media platform)

A large number of pleas from Chinese stock investors flooded a U.S. Embassy post titled “Science and Technology Help Researchers Protect Giraffes by Increasing Awareness”:

  • “Do you want to protect me? Giraffes are life forms, but so am I.”
  • “Anyway, (the Chinese officials) eventually will take our money (from the stock market) away and immigrate to your country. How about we give you the money directly? Otherwise they will charge us processing fee (in addition).”
  • “We know they are lying, and they know they are lying. They know we know they are lying, and we know they know we know they are lying. But they still keep lying. Can you tell me which ‘glorious era’ this description refers to?”

On the same day, a post by the U.S. embassy titled “Joint Statement on the Third Anniversary of the Military Coup in Myanmar” was flooded with messages from Chinese stock investors asking for help from the U.S.:

  • “America, please come and rescue the hundreds of millions of A-share investors in deep trouble.”
  • “Save the poor Chinese stock investors. I love America.”
  • “I beg the United States to save A-shares.”
  • “America, the Earth needs you! It desperately needs you! God bless America.”
  • “Whoever treats us well, we will love them.”
  • “I love the United States of America.”
  • “The official media doesn’t let us speak. I come here to request rescue.”
  • “Before trading stocks, I was very patriotic.”
  • “Trading stocks has brought hatred to our country. It’s also tragic.”
  • “Get rid of the China Securities Regulatory Commission!”

Source: Epoch Times, February 3, 2024

RFA: China Jailed More Journalists in 2023 Than Any Other Country

Radio Free Asia (RFA) recently reported on a study by The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an international human rights organization, saying that 44 journalists were imprisoned in China in 2023, more than in any other country. Out of the 44 imprisoned Chinese journalists, 19 were of the Uyghur ethnic group. According to the CPJ report, “censorship makes the exact number of journalists jailed there notoriously difficult to determine, but Beijing’s media crackdown has widened in recent years.” When the CPJ report was released, Jimmy Lai, one of the representatives of press freedom in Hong Kong and the former founder of Apple Daily, was on trial in Hong Kong facing accusations of anti-state crimes. He had been subject to detention in prison for more than 1,140 consecutive days.

The report pointed out that the Chinese government has a tendency to charge journalists with “working against the state.” In 2023, three-fifths of new cases brought against journalists in China involved charges of espionage and incitement, separatism, or subversion of state power. This trend of bringing anti-state charges against journalists reflects the Chinese government’s attitude towards freedom of speech — it wantonly uses the party-state judicial apparatus to directly punish those who use speech in a manner that it deems unfavorable. Criminal charges are often brought on the basis of speech or reporting alone.

It is worth noting that China’s amended Counterespionage Law, which took effect on July 1, 2023, raised concern among members of the press at the time. Since Chinese law has always been vague about what constitutes threats “related to national security and interests,” it is difficult for Chinese and foreign journalists operating in China to gain clarity and feel secure in the reporting work they do.


RFA, January 19, 2024

CPJ, January 18, 2024

2023 prison census: Jailed journalist numbers near record high; Israel imprisonments spike

Crackdowns on Comic Conventions Highlight China’s Suppression of Japanese and Western Cultural Influence

Several comic conventions and video game events in China have recently been canceled, including the Qingdao Comic Con, the Zibo comic show, the Qingdao AS New Year’s Party, and miYoSummer 3. The cancellations appear to be due to government restrictions and censorship targeting Japanese and Western cultural influences.

The Qingdao Comic Con scheduled for mid-February was canceled just weeks before the convention’s scheduled start. The cancellation followed online backlash in China criticizing the event for promoting Japanese culture and anime. The organizer cited “safeguarding visitor safety” as the reason for cancellation. The Qingdao AS New Year’s Party, scheduled for early February, faced similar pressure after recent public fomentation over comic shows, leading authorities and organizers to indefinitely postpone the event. Staff from the Zibo comic show said authorities ordered a stop to Shandong province’s animation exhibitions during the Chinese Spring Festival. HoYoverse, scheduled for summer 2024, also abruptly canceled its popular miYoSummer video game show in January.

Interviewees attribute the cancellations to government crackdowns reinforcing nationalistic boycotts of Japanese culture in particular. Some pointed out an incident in 2022 involving a Nanjing temple honoring Japanese war criminals which sparked widespread anti-Japanese sentiment and comic show cancellations last summer. Rigid over-enforcement is also exacerbated by the CCP’s culture encouraging government orders cascading down to the grassroots level.

Source: Radio Free Asia, January 24, 2024

Lianhe Zaobao: China’s Weibo Blocked “Taiwanese Election” Search Results on Election Day

Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported that Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections took place on January 13, and Mainland Chinese netizens were paying close attention to the election results. After voting began at 8 a.m. that day, the relevant term “Taiwan Election” was on the “hot search ranking list” on Weibo, one of the largest social media platforms in Mainland China. The number of views on the topic quickly reached 163.2 million. However, the popular topic was soon blocked on Weibo.

Before the “Taiwan Elections” topic was blocked, many Mainland Chinese netizens posted comments and discussion on this topic. Some netizens called for improving relations between Mainland China and Taiwan after the Taiwanese election, and some netizens expressed their hopes for the DPP’s presidential candidate Lai Ching-te to win the election so that the Chinese military would “unify by force” sooner. (Taiwan’s DDP party, which won the presidency in the election, is the party that’s most opposed to cooperation with Beijing.)

Since Chinese official media, including Xinhua News Agency, CCTV News and People’s Daily, had very little coverage of the Taiwan election that day, some netizens asked on Weibo: “Is today the voting day for Taiwan? Why is there no news coverage?” Many related topics were blocked on Weibo as well. The Spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press conference two days earlier that “the United States must not interfere in Taiwan’s elections in any form” – this quote remained visible on Weibo.

Source: Lianhe Zaobao, January 13, 2024