DHARAMSALA, 28 Aug: In a drive to recruit spies abroad, Chinese agents are contacting thousands of foreign citizens using LinkedIn, including former government officials, reports The New York Times.
The report, citing Western counterintelligence alleged that LinkedIn, the only major American social media platform not blocked in China is as an ideal hunting ground for espionage recruitment as it’s a platform where millions of people are looking for jobs.
The campaign, it was reported targets academics and people outside China who have just left their government jobs on a mass scale.
Chinese agents often make offers over various channels, including LinkedIn, to bring the prospective recruit to China, sometimes through the guise of a corporate recruiting firm offering to pay them for speaking or consulting engagements or aid in research. From there, agents develop the relationship, the report added.
The reported cited cases of a former senior foreign policy official in the Obama administration and a former Danish Foreign Ministry official contacted by Chinese agents on LinkedIn.
The duo was offered with “well paid” opportunities in China and to gain “great access to the Chinese system” for research respectively.
According to the report, the use of social media by the Chinese government operatives for what American officials and executives call nefarious purposes has drawn heightened scrutiny in recent weeks.
Though it was reported that the Chinese agents may not be the only ones carrying out recruitment efforts on LinkedIn, they were identified to be the most active of the lot.
Meanwhile, Intelligence agencies in the United States, Britain, Germany and France are all said to have issued warnings about foreign agents approaching thousands of users on the site.
Earlier this week, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have shut hundreds of Chinese state-backed accounts for spreading disinformation about the mass pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.