The Public Security Department of the Japanese Metropolitan Police Department obtained an arrest warrant in December last year (2021) to arrest a former Chinese citizen who was instructed by relevant personnel of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army to illegally purchase Japanese-made security software for corporate use and was charged with attempted fraud. International student Wang Jianbin. Because the suspect has returned to China, the international student is expected to be wanted through the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO).
Related reports: People’s Liberation Army Unit 61419 is accused of leading hacker attacks on Japanese defense institutions China: Don’t throw dirty water
As long as the Chinese People’s Liberation Army finds an outstanding international student, it will investigate his financial background, contact him, and propose, “If you cooperate with us, we will increase your parents’ pension. We will give you preferential treatment when you return to China.” .Come to help collect intelligence, and we will pay you accordingly.”
If you refuse the People’s Liberation Army’s request…
They will be threatened and said, “Then we don’t know what will happen to your parents. We can’t guarantee what will happen to you when you return to China.” After hearing them say this, basically no one dared to refuse. The suspect for this arrest warrant is said to be a very serious student, but despite this he was asked to be a spy.
Because the suspect surnamed Wang dreamed of working in Japan-China trade, he quit his original retail job in China when he was 24 years old in 2010 and entered a Japanese language school in Osaka. He graduated first in 2012.
“He got the first grade and also gave a speech on behalf of the graduates. He has a gentle personality and the teachers also like him very much.” In May 2022, a Chinese male classmate of Wang Jianbin said this to “Kyodo News”. “He held several jobs in factories and convenience stores and lived an independent life. He was also very keen on studying.”
Later, he studied at the Faculty of Business Administration of a private university in Osaka. When he was in college, someone from the People’s Liberation Army asked him to help.
The person who came to entrust him was the wife of a soldier who belonged to the “61419 Unit” of the People’s Liberation Army’s cyber attack unit. She and the suspect surnamed Wang met through his supervisor when he worked in a Chinese company before coming to Japan. The People’s Liberation Army knew that the suspect surnamed Wang was going to study in Japan and asked the wife to contact him in order to make him a spy.
The first request from the military wife was for a Japanese USB flash drive.
After buying a flash drive from a shopping website and sending it to her, the suspect surnamed Wang received the corresponding reward. It is certainly not illegal to send a Japanese flash drive to China. They will start with simple, not illegal, and anyone can do the commission, and then gradually increase the difficulty of the commission.
In 2016, the suspect surnamed Wang received instructions from his military wife to sign a contract to rent a server in Japan and give her his account and password.
Later, the server rented by the suspect surnamed Wang was used by the People’s Liberation Army to launch cyber attacks with the intention of obtaining about 200 defense and aviation-related research institutions such as JAXA (Aerospace Research and Development Agency), Mitsubishi Electric, IHI, Keio University, Hitotsubashi University, etc. Confidential information of the company. In the cyber attacks launched by the People’s Liberation Army, multiple Japanese servers were used, one of which belonged to the suspect surnamed Wang. Because network attacks passing through servers in Japan are more difficult to detect as illegal access by the detection system.
In the spring of 2016, the suspect surnamed Wang graduated from college. Although he was offered a job in a domestic company in Japan, he resigned and returned to China due to “health reasons.” In November of the same year, the military wife proposed a more difficult commission.
He was entrusted with purchasing security software for corporate users. When talking about entrusting the purchase of software, it is actually better to say it is an “instruction” or an “order.” And because the software was only sold to Japanese companies, the suspect surnamed Wang used a fake company name and person in charge. However, because the company selling the software could not find the company registration information provided by the suspect surnamed Wang, it felt suspicious and refused to sell it to him. The purpose of the People’s Liberation Army in obtaining the software is to investigate the vulnerabilities of the software and launch new attacks targeting the vulnerabilities.
The suspect surnamed Wang came to Japan again in 2017, to meet relatives and friends. However, waiting for him were investigators from the Japanese Ministry of Public Security. The suspect surnamed Wang who was interviewed admitted the suspicion.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Public Security also interviewed a military wife who came to Japan for sightseeing, but she later left the country.
The mobile phone of the suspect surnamed Wang also contains messages of interaction with the military wife on social media.
“I think it will be dangerous to go down. I get nervous every time. I can’t do this.” Regardless of the suspect surnamed Wang’s concerns, the soldier’s wife just said, “I want to contribute to the country.” But then he received no more instructions from the military wife.
The Public Security Department of the Japan Metropolitan Police Department conducted a search for cyber attacks launched against JAXA and other units between 2016 and 2017. Among the Japanese servers used by the People’s Liberation Army’s cyber attack force, except for those provided by the suspect surnamed Wang, the others are from a Chinese Communist Party member in his 30s living in Japan. In April 2021, the server rented by this Chinese Communist Party member under a pseudonym was resold to the Chinese cyber attack force, and he was brought to justice based on a letter of suspicion of improperly copying and providing electromagnetic records.
The Ministry of Public Security also interviewed the suspect surnamed Wang’s classmates at the language school. Among them were people suspected of assisting the People’s Liberation Army like Wang Jianbin, but the case could not be concluded due to insufficient evidence.
The weight of “country”
The suspect surnamed Wang had no connection with the People’s Liberation Army before he came into contact with the military wife. Why was he clearly torn about assisting in illegal activities, yet he had to do as he was told? A senior official from the Ministry of Public Security pointed out that this is because “in China and in Japan, the weight of the word ‘country’ is completely different.”
China’s intelligence activities are very different from those of Russia and North Korea. Russia and North Korea primarily use specially trained spies to carry out such operations. But the characteristic of China is that it involves ordinary people and uses the “human sea tactic” to achieve the “thousand grains of sand” strategy. In particular, in June 2017, China passed theNational Intelligence Act“After that, espionage incidents like this tended to increase.
The Thousand Grains of Sand strategy means that China uses many ordinary Chinese scattered around the world to bring back fragmented information. After screening, there will always be usable information. Its original meaning is that “there is always a grain of sand gold among a thousand grains of sand.”
China’s National Intelligence Law
Article 7 stipulates that “any organization and citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with national intelligence work in accordance with the law, and keep the secrets of national intelligence work that they know.”
“Chinese people who like to live an ordinary life in Japan will suddenly one day have to conduct espionage according to the instructions of the Chinese authorities.” An unexpected person suddenly becomes a spy one day. This is a characteristic of Chinese spies.
After the passage of the National Intelligence Law, China’s commercial espionage cases surged. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was crisis-conscious at the time, discussed countermeasures against Chinese commercial espionage. In October last year (2021), the Kishida cabinet established a new minister responsible for economic security. In April of the same year, the Metropolitan Police Department also changed the Foreign Affairs Section 2, which was originally responsible for espionage activities in China and North Korea, into a Section 3 dedicated to handling Chinese affairs, and assigned North Korea to Section 3.
“Teacher, thank you very much for these two years.”
In the video of the graduation ceremony of a Japanese language school nearly 10 years ago, Wang Jianbin was recorded holding a microphone in his hand and slowly expressing his gratitude to the teacher in Japanese on behalf of the whole class. He received a commemorative banner with the words “Good teachers and friends teach and educate” from other graduates and handed it to his mentor.
Wang Jianbin said to the teacher who was wiping tears with the graduates: “What is written on that flag is our good teacher and good friend, who taught us knowledge and taught us the meaning of life. It is very suitable for teachers.”
A boy who looks like Wang Jianbin’s classmate left photos on social networking sites of Wang Jianbin and his teachers at a drinking party after graduation, as well as photos of him and his friends while studying abroad. A source from the school said, “It’s really incredible why he would do such a thing if he is so good.”
Because Japan has now issued an arrest warrant, it is unlikely that Wang Jianbin will go back to Japan to meet his friends and teachers. A Chinese boy who studied with him murmured in an interview with Kyodo News, “I wonder what he was thinking when he was helping the People’s Liberation Army? Did he end up being exploited by the country?”
Not an isolated case
Stories like this are just the tip of the iceberg. Through the analysis of American think tanks, we can find that China forcing Chinese citizens to engage in espionage is by no means an isolated case.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) used public information to list 224 Chinese espionage incidents against the United States since 2000. Of these incidents, 69% were reported after Xi Jinping took office. And China has far more espionage incidents than other countries, even more than Russia.
CSIS notes that it’s important to note that while nationality is a predictor of espionage, race is not. Chinese citizens who come to the United States to work or study are often targeted for recruitment by China for espionage because they often intend to return to China or have close family members in China, making them more vulnerable to coercion. In contrast, Chinese Americans are less likely to be recruited by China.
There have been 104 reported cases of cyber espionage in the past decade, so CSIS has created a separate list. But hacking is not the only form of espionage. China also uses traditional methods of recruiting agents (usually sex or money) as well as unconventional methods, such as buying properties next to military or research facilities, to conduct espionage. While this list is by no means complete, certain patterns emerge.
After CSIS analysis, identifiable actors were found:
・49% had Chinese military personnel or government employees directly involved;
・41% are ordinary Chinese citizens;
・10% were non-Chinese actors (often Americans recruited by Chinese officials).
And the intention behind it:
・46% involved cyber espionage, often carried out by state-affiliated actors;
・29% aimed at acquiring military technology;
・54% are seeking business technology;
・17% are seeking information about U.S. civil service agencies or politicians.
Author: Chen Yiling (Deputy Editor of Baogua) (This article is reproduced fromBaogua)
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