A new book by a former Taiwanese intelligence boss has cast light on how China spies on Taiwanese citizens, including mass surveillance operations against users of Taiwan’s main mobile internet providers.
The book, which is entitled The Communist Party of China: Intelligence Organization and Spy was published at the end of September by Lieutenant-General Wong Yen-ching, who is a former deputy chief of Taiwan’s Military Intelligence Bureau.
In it, Lieutenant-General Wong details the working practices of People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) cyberspace unit against Taiwan. The cyberspace unit, which is commonly referred to as ‘No. 6 Bureau’ is based in Wuhan in Central China’s Hubei Province.
How ‘No. 6 Bureau’ spies on Taiwanese communications
He explains how ‘No. 6 Bureau’ is tasked with carrying our surveillance against Taiwan. There are a number of techniques they use, but Wong goes into details about various cyber attacks that have taken place.
According to Wong, these attacks have been targeted at public and mobile broadband networks operated by Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile and FarEasTone.The purpose of these attacks was to intercept telephones calls and instant messages and log internet data.
As these three networks dominate the Taiwanese market, this was clearly data interception on a massive scale and potentially compromised the privacy of every Taiwanese internet user.
The focus of Wong’s book is on China’s military surveillance and intelligence gathering. But he confirms that such attacks were not specifically focused on military targets but were a ‘catch-all’ operation collecting as much information as possible.
Other details about China’s espionage outlined in the book includes information on how ‘No. 6 Bureau’ operates a number of espionage divisions under cover of being research centers and laboratories at Wuhan University.
And he also details their involvement in listening stations located along the coast of the southeastern province of Fujian. The Taiwan Straits are at their narrowest here with Taiwan being just 130km from China at the closest point.
These listening stations are doubtless intended to be monitoring military communication channels. But it seems quite likely that they could also be picking up regular communications in north-eastern Taiwanese cities such as Taipei, Taoyuan, and Hsinchu.
Why everyone in Taiwan should be using a VPN
The details about the extent of Chinese spying against Taiwan’s main communications networks will be deeply worrying to many Taiwanese users. And this is just the information Wong is able to make public. Who knows how many other surveillance attempts remain confidential or undiscovered.
Given the significant threat posed to Taiwan and its people by China, everyone in Taiwan should be trying to protect themselves and their communications from such surveillance.
The best way to do this is by using a quality VPN. A VPN encrypts everything you do online making it is impossible for Chinese spies to read your communications or see what website you are accessing.
It also hides your identity meaning that it is almost impossible for anyone to trace your online activity back to your internet connection.
Our top recommended VPNs for Taiwanese people are NordVPN and BufferedVPN. Both offer state-of-the-art online security and great privacy protections too. If you want to shop around more, there are other VPNs you can consider too.
For more advice, why not read our guide to the Best VPN for Taiwan 2018.