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China seeks explanation on US spying|
[Global Times | 2013-11-1 0:38:01
By Sun Xiaobo
The shadow of a journalist is cast on posters announcing a European Parliament delegation visit to the US during a press conference at the EU headquarters in Washington, DC on Wednesday. The nine-member delegation was there to gather information on issues related to the US' mass surveillance of EU citizens. Photo: AFP
The Chinese government on Thursday demanded an explanation from the US over its surveillance of China via embassies and consulates across the globe, as the Australian media reported that Australia had been part of a US-led global exercise to collect intelligence through its embassies, including the one in Beijing.
Australia is said to have used its embassies throughout Asia, including in cities such as Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Beijing and New Delhi, and other diplomatic missions to fetch intelligence for the US, with most of the Australian diplomats themselves unaware of the operation, Australia's Fairfax Media reported on Thursday.
The embassies were being used as listening stations by the US, according to the Australian media.
This came after German weekly Der Spiegel revealed on Tuesday that Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hong Kong and Taipei were on the list of about 80 locations where the US had set up its eavesdropping Special Collection Service (SCS).
China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular media briefing on Thursday that China was gravely concerned about the spying reports and demands a clarification from the US.
"We urge foreign missions in China and their employees to strictly abide by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and other international conventions, and not to engage in any activities incompatible with their duties and status that may hurt China's national security and interests," Hua said.
In response to the eavesdropping scandal, the Chinese military said it sounded an alarm for China to beef up its information security.
"It's not hard to imagine what the US would do to countries that are not its allies, such as China, after it was exposed to have been snooping on its allies," China's defense ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told reporters on Thursday at a media briefing.
The Australian government declined to comment on the media reports, Fairfax said.
"If proven to be true, the covert surveillance mission would have been a severe breach of China's sovereignty and dignity," Zhou Zunnan, a professor with China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Thursday.
Amid the uproar, more media reports surfaced suggesting that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had hacked into fiber-optic cables of Internet giants Google and Yahoo to search vast swathes of data and even tapped the Vatican.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that a program dubbed MUSCULAR, which the NSA operated jointly with its British counterpart the Government Communications Headquarters, wired up Google and Yahoo communication centers worldwide to gather hundreds of millions of user accounts, many belonging to Americans.
Spokespersons of both Google and Yahoo denied to have provided the government with access to their systems, and expressed their outrage. The NSA denied the reports.
The newspaper's report was based on documents obtained from the whistle-blower former NSA contractorEdward Snowden and interviews with "knowledgeable" officials.
"The further disclosure displays a hypocritical image of the US. A reform is necessary for the country, as it needs to place limits on the power of the government, which has been abused, and in the meantime set a clear boundary in terms of the relationship between government and businesses," Li Haidong, a professor of the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.
Agencies contributed to this story