Government Buildings in Africa Are a Likely Vector for Chinese Spying
Beijing may have better surveillance access to Africa than anywhere else in the world.
Chinese companies have constructed or renovated (or both) at least 186 sensitive African government buildings; Chinese telecommunications firms have built at least 14 intra-governmental, “secure” telecommunications networks; and the Chinese government has gifted computers to at least 35 African governments.
As the world leader in economic espionage and foreign influence operations, Beijing almost certainly uses its engagements in Africa to surveil American and African officials and business leaders. The Chinese government could use the information it harvests to advantage its companies competing against American and other firms, glean insights into U.S. security assistance and counterterrorism programs, and recruit or influence senior African government officials.
The U.S. should, among other efforts, work to understand the nature of Chinese surveillance and how it contributes to Beijing’s influence operations, educate U.S. companies on the risks, and train its officials on techniques to complicate Beijing’s information gathering in Africa.
Beijing likely has better surveillance access to Africa than anywhere else by having built or renovated at least 186 African government buildings.
Beijing likely uses surveillance to, among other things, advantage its companies competing for contracts, spy on U.S. officials, and influence African officials.
The U.S. should try to complicate Beijing’s surveillance of an important continent as part of a strategic response to the CCP’s effort to reshape the global order.
Among the report’s other findings:
186 / The number of African government buildings Chinese companies have constructed or renovated—including 24 buildings for presidents or prime ministers, 26 parliamentary buildings, 19 ministry of foreign affairs buildings, and 32 military or police buildings
40 / The number of African countries, out of 54 total, that have government buildings
constructed by China
14 / The number of sensitive intra-governmental telecommunications networks China has built across Africa
35 / The number of African governments to which China has gifted batches of computers
70 / The percentage of 4G networks in Africa developed by Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei
For the full report: Press Here
By Joshua Meservey, May 20, 2020, Published on The Heritage Foundation