Western intelligence officials believe Chinese agents are contacting thousands of foreign citizens using LinkedIn.
New York Times reports headhunting and “well paid” opportunities offered by Chinese recruitment firms to former government officials in Europe and America.
The aim is to recruit these influential people to do the bidding for China. The recruiting firms offer lucrative deals, flight to Beijing where the meetings are held and connections to “well paid” opportunities.
A former senior foreign policy official in the Obama administration was a target. He was contacted on LinkedIn, which seems to be the favourite recruitment spot for the Chinese government.
“A former Danish Foreign Ministry official got LinkedIn messages from someone appearing to be a woman at a Chinese headhunting firm wanting to meet in Beijing,” wrote NYT.
And the connections started immediately upon his arrival in China with three middle-aged men showing up at the scheduled meeting.
They said they could help the former official gain “great access to the Chinese system” for research, wrote the NYT.
The National Counterintelligence and Security Center, a government agency that tracks foreign spying is alerting companies to possible infiltration.
“Instead of dispatching spies to the U.S. to recruit a single target, it’s more efficient to sit behind a computer in China and send out friend requests to thousands of targets using fake profiles,” NYT quoted the agency as saying.
President Donald Trump had to face this and according to him, a useless, investigation on whether he colluded with Russia on the election meddling followed.
The Chinese use of LinkedIn to recruit ‘spies’ is reminiscent of terror organisations and drug cartels using social media and messaging services to recruit agents and fighters.
ISIS and other terror organisations are still using networks like Telegram and other encrypted messaging services to ‘radicalise’ recruits who carry out attacks in many parts of the world.
This is also reminiscent of the use of newspaper advertising during the cold war between the US and Russia.
There are reports on how America used different media to propagate the “anti-commie” message in its own nation, but also around the world. It was also used to recruit ‘spies’.
American officials and executives are calling China’s use of social media platforms a nefarious act.
Western agencies are pushing for heightened scrutiny saying foreign agents are exploiting social media to try to recruit assets, with LinkedIn as a prime hunting ground.
Western counterintelligence officials in the United States, Britain, Germany and France have issued warnings about foreign agents approaching thousands of users on the site. Chinese spies are the most active, officials told NYT. -/TISG