May 25, 2024


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Classic espionage, cyber attacks, creating economic dependencies, and technology withdrawal –

Classic espionage, cyber attacks, creating economic dependencies, and technology withdrawal –

Just days after the arrest of four suspected spies, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution urged German companies and politicians to be extremely careful in dealing with authoritarian states such as China.

“We are increasingly seeing attempts to influence politics, business and science using illicit means, but also classic espionage,” Deputy Head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Sinan Selen, said at the beginning of a joint study. An event took place between the Authority and the Alliance for Economic Security (ASW).

It is time for a more realistic assessment here. While the German managers were very naive and optimistic, “it can be seen that these companies have practically dissolved.” According to Selin, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has long pointed out the dangers of mandatory tax programs that allow state authorities comprehensive access to a company's internal information.

Dangerous applications and unsafe hotel safes

In order to protect themselves from this risk and the penetration of malware via Chinese applications, German companies now often send their employees to China with “empty” devices operating outside the company’s global network, it was learned at the security conference held in Berlin. Business travelers should be aware that confidential documents found in hotel safes in China may not be safe, said Günter Schouten, managing director of ASW. The theme of the event was “China's Global Aspirations – Implications for Corporate Security and German Politics.”

Maximilian Krah, an AfD staffer, was arrested in Dresden on Monday. He is said to work for Chinese intelligence. Krah has also attracted attention within his party in recent years with his particularly uncritical stances on China and Russia. Shortly before this, three suspected spies were arrested in Düsseldorf and Bad Homburg. The two men and the woman are said to have obtained information about military technology in Germany in order to pass it on to Chinese intelligence.

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Deputy BfV: necessary to identify risks

China's leadership is keenly interested in expertise in robotics, space and automation, among other things, on its way to its long-term goal of “leading the world,” Selin said. The deputy of the German intelligence service explained that isolation is not a solution. Rather, it is necessary to recognize the risks. The goal is to reduce dependencies – especially in key technologies – and implement strong security measures.

The head of the China Center at the Bremen University of Applied Sciences, Sandra Hepp, said that China is strongly focused on creating economic dependencies so that it can use them politically in the future. China's relationship with Russia does not focus on economic issues. One even sees ideological similarities – as great powers striving to restore their former status after a “period of humiliation.”

Protection against industrial espionage is not just about individual companies, but also about “foreign powers that are systematically trying to weaken the Federal Republic,” said ASW Chairman Alexander Borscholz. In response to reports from Spiegel and ZDF that Volkswagen's drive technology has been spied on for years – most likely by hackers from China – Celine said this “fits perfectly with our situation report.”