Chinese authorities have announced their intention to publicly reveal a covert global reconnaissance system operated by the U.S., following an investigation into alleged hacking of earthquake monitoring equipment in Wuhan. This move is part of China’s ongoing efforts to highlight U.S. intelligence-gathering activities in response to criticism of its own actions. The disclosure is said to result from a joint investigation by China’s National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (CVERC) and internet security company Qihoo 360 into alleged espionage targeting seismic data. The announcement has ignited debates around international law and espionage, with Chinese officials asserting that U.S. cyberattacks on civilian infrastructure violate international law.
The Global Times, a state-controlled English-language newspaper, reported the impending disclosure and quoted Xiao Xinguang, a member of an advisory body to the Chinese Communist Party, discussing the intelligence value of seismological data for various purposes. This comes after allegations that the U.S. was involved in hacking earthquake monitoring equipment.
Chinese officials claim that the U.S.’s cyberattacks on civilian infrastructure are in violation of international law and pose a threat to national security and public interests. However, experts point out the ambiguity of international law concerning espionage and note that the United States considers espionage a legitimate aspect of statecraft. The announcement follows other allegations of U.S. intelligence activities, often relying on publicly available material.
Amid these claims, questions of international law and espionage are being debated. The recent revelation by China comes in response to concerns over U.S. intelligence-gathering activities and is seen as a bid to showcase its own efforts in the global intelligence landscape.
These developments underline the complex and evolving dynamics of cybersecurity and state-sponsored intelligence activities.