Friday

23rd Feb 2024

Germany says China using LinkedIn to recruit informants

  • China is using social media outlets to recruit German informants, says Germany's spy agency. (Photo: Kyra Preston)

The German domestic intelligence agency (BfV) says China is using fake profiles on social media to target German officials and politicians.

"This is a broad-based attempt to infiltrate, in particular, parliaments, ministries and government agencies," said BfV head Hans-Georg Maassen on Sunday (10 December).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Maassen said more than 10,000 Germans have been approached by the alleged ruse from Chinese profiles posing as reputable professionals on social networking site LinkedIn.

The BfV released around half dozen fake LinkedIn profiles of young attractive Chinese professionals.

Among them is Laeticia Chen who supposedly works at the China Center for International Politics and Economy. Another, Eva Han, is from the China University of Political Science and Law.

The people behind the suspected profiles attempt to link to others, asking them to contact them. The BfV says the moves are designed to possibly recruit high-ranking officials to become Chinese informants.

"Chinese intelligence services are active on networks like LinkedIn and have been trying for a while to extract information and find intelligence sources in this way," said the BfV.

The allegations of Chinese spying are not limited to Germany.

China has also been accused of trying to meddle with Australian elections and domestic affairs. China has denied the allegations.

But last week, Canberra announced a raft of new laws to crack down on any such efforts.

In November, the US Congress said Chinese news media outlets like Xinhua act as an arm of China's state intelligence agency and demanded that they register as foreign agents.

The US also has CIA spies inside China. According to the New York Times, up to 20 CIA spies have either been killed or imprisoned in China between 2010 and 2012.

The broader China move appears to be part of a larger effort by the Chinese state to create a mass surveillance network.

In 2015, it began building SkyNet, an internal country-wide system that uses millions of CCTV cameras to track and probe their own citizens at home using facial recognition technology.

Some 170 million cameras are already installed nationwide with plans to erect another 400 million over the next three years.

Hungary-Serbia railway launched at China summit

The flagship project of China's increased presence in central and eastern Europe was launched on Tuesday, following an EU probe as a summit in Budapest raises questions on Beijing's influence.

MEPs target exports of cyber surveillance tech

MEPs have introduced a human rights clause into the export of cyber surveillance technology as part of EU-wide reforms to prevent abuse by autocratic regimes. The Strasbourg plenary will vote on the bill on Wednesday.

Opinion

The curious case of the Czech president's missing advisor

A Chinese business advisor to the Czech president has gone missing. The disappearance of one of the main conduits for Chinese investment into the Czech Republic leaves questions for Milos Zeman and his 'special relationship' with president Xi Jinping.

Opinion

2024 will be a momentous year for election observers

Our role is not to 'judge' the elections, but observation does provide an additional level of transparency, scrutiny and public accountability, writes Matteo Mecacci, director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Poland awaits EU-funds approval as Reynders visits Warsaw

Restoring the rule of law in Poland to unlock EU funds after the Law and Justice era marks a major challenge for Donald Tusk's new government, as EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders will see during a Warsaw visit on Friday

Latest News

  1. Energy and minerals disputes overshadow new EU-ACP pact
  2. Germany speeds up Georgia and Morocco asylum returns
  3. How Amazon lobbyists could be banned from EU Parliament
  4. Blackmailing the Global South on EU carbon border tax won't work
  5. EU auditors: rule-of-law budget protections only partial success
  6. EU's €723bn Covid recovery fund saw growth, but doubts remain
  7. Von der Leyen rejects extremist parties, leaves door open to ECR
  8. Russian oligarchs failed to get off EU blacklist

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us