China recruits students for spy missions against other countries: report

Beijing lures job seekers into committing state-sponsored espionage on Western targets.


Hainan Xiandun, a Chinese technology company, is actively recruiting Chinese university students as English-language translators, even after US law enforcement accused Beijing of setting up such companies as a “front” for spying operations against criminals. Western targets.

Hackers with alleged ties to Chinese intelligence agencies continue to advertise new recruits to work on cyber espionage, even after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indicted the perpetrators in an attempt to disrupt their business .

In another covert maneuver by China, Beijing is enticing job seekers to commit state-sponsored espionage on Western targets while persuading them to translate stolen confidential documents collected from various government agencies.

To hire these Chinese university students, the country hides information about the actual duties they will have to perform after being hired, the Hong Kong Post reported.

Students are tricked into working for a top-secret technology company where they identify potential Western targets for espionage and interpret stolen papers as part of Beijing’s massive intelligence apparatus.

About 140 potential translators, mostly recent graduates who studied English at public colleges in Hainan, Sichuan and Xian, were targeted for the job.

In the Chinese province of Hainan, people applied for job offers for a company called Hainan Xiandun. In a shocking revelation, translation tests on confidential documents collected from US government agencies were part of the application process. There were also guidelines for researchers at Johns Hopkins University, a major target for spy rallies.

According to a 2021 US federal indictment, a Chinese company Hainan Xiandun served as a front for the Chinese hacking organization APT40. Western intelligence earlier reported that APT40 was sent by China’s Ministry of State Security to infiltrate colleges, businesses and government organizations in the United States, Canada, Europe and the Middle East. East.

In a bid to stop the malice, last July the US Federal Bureau of Investigation charged three state security officers in Hainan Province to shut down Hainan Xiandun’s operations. These operations allegedly played a role in creating the company as a front for state-sponsored espionage.

These state security officials are Ding Xiaoyang, Cheng Qingmin, and Zhu Yunmin. Wu Shurong, another person included in the indictment, was allegedly a hacker who helped manage staff at Hainan Xiandun.

It has become part of the Chinese tactic where graduate students are lured into a career in espionage. Not only that, but even Chinese university websites also posted job offers for translators without providing more information about the nature of the job.

These developments and initiatives by Chinese universities will have long-term effects as these students may find it difficult to live and work in Western countries, which is a major incentive for many students to study foreign languages.

Their nominations inform APT40’s strategies, which include targeting maritime, biomedical and robotics research institutes as part of broader initiatives to learn more about Western industrial strategy and acquire private information.

A large workforce of English speakers who can help identify hacking targets, cyber experts who can access enemy networks, and intelligence officials who can analyze stolen data are all needed for a breach to happen. large scale.

Job seekers were instructed to download “software to bypass the Great Firewall” in the instruction manual. He warns that the search will include visiting blocked websites like Facebook, which calls for the use of a VPN, or a program that hides the user’s location, in order to gain access.

Hainan Xiandun appeared to have a close association with Hainan University and advertised job openings on university recruitment websites. The first floor of the University Library, which also houses the student computer area, was where the company was registered.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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