China Is Mining Our Data
A Chinese company is harvesting Americans’ data.
Data, as you no doubt have heard, is the new oil. For governments that wish to tightly control the masses, the more data the better. Of all the countries in the world, communist China appears most eager to amass vast amounts of data—and not just the data of its own people, but the data of foreigners, too.
To collect that data, the Chinese Communist Party uses a combination of gifted hackers and high-tech surveillance equipment. It has done so for years. Now, though, some countries are waking up to the threat from Beijing. Other countries have not, and have repeatedly failed to address the data-harvesting tiger in the room. One of those countries is the United States, and its failure to take action surely won’t go unpunished.
Headquartered in Beijing, Nuctech is a state-owned technology company specializing in the creation of security and surveillance products. The company, which has close ties to Tsinghua University, Xi Jinping’s alma mater, exports these products around the world. Nuctech boasts more than 4,300 employees, and has a presence in 170 different countries and regions. That presence is particularly strong in Europe, where it has offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom, with plans to open branch offices in Italy and Spain. Now, though, European lawmakers are sounding the alarm, warning European Union leaders in Brussels that Nuctech’s presence poses a grave threat to the continent.
In a recent letter, European leaders argued that Nuctech’s scanning equipment, which includes airport scanners, bomb-detection systems, and the like, should not be used by E.U. member states. Information obtained through these devices, they warned, could easily be accessed and weaponized by the CCP. As a Politico report published in October revealed, Nuctech has close ties to the Chinese defense industry.
The Biden administration is no fan of the Beijing-backed company. Earlier this year, as the Washington Post reported, government officials were notified of a potential national security threat developing on the opposite side of the U.S.-Mexico border. The Mexican government reportedly intended to purchase “hundreds of millions of dollars of Chinese scanning equipment for its own checkpoints” from Nuctech. Fearful that the CCP would have access to valuable data about goods and persons crossing the border, Ken Salazar, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, wrote a letter to Mexico's foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard asking the Mexicans not to purchase the technology. “No Chinese scanning equipment meets the United States’ standards for quality control,” wrote Salazar.
In short, everyone agrees that Nuctech is bad. But if that's true, why is the company still operating in the United States?
Although the Transportation Security Administration had previously banned Nuctech equipment from most American airports, the company and its products still has a strong presence in the U.S. That is because it now operates under a different name: Secure Technology Value Solutions Inc. (STVS). With an office in Pennsylvania, STVS makes human-body scanners, X-ray inspection machines, and infrared temperature screening systems. According to its website, STVS supplies these products to law enforcement agencies, drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities, and the hospitality sector, as well as a number of schools and community centers.
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This is not the first time we have seen Chinese-backed organizations pull the wool over the eyes of Americans with a simple name change. In recent years, the U.S. government has cracked down on Confucius Institutes, college campus centers ostensibly created to promote Chinese language and culture that in truth were little more than Trojan horses for the CCP to spread propaganda and facilitate espionage at American universities. Although a number of these institutes have been closed down in the U.S., they never really disappeared. In fact, many of them are still operating across the country, just under a different name.
Simple name changes shouldn’t be enough to fool the most powerful country in the world. That brings us back to Nuctech, or Secure Technology Value Solutions Inc.; call it what you will. The company is in the business of collecting large amounts of intimate data. Where does that information end up? It's a pressing question, considering China already has stolen the data of 260 million American citizens.
If the United States wishes to be taken seriously as a superpower, it needs to take the threat of Chinese espionage more seriously. The next big war won’t be won by boots on the ground, but by the side with the best data.