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Leaked French intelligence reports accuse China of industrial espionage by using prostitutes, fake job offers, false orders and work experience students

Posted by Author on February 1, 2011

Secret French intelligence reports have accused China of widespread industrial spying, including the use of prostitutes, fake job offers, false orders and work experience students.

The allegations come weeks after three executives at car maker Renault were fired after being accused of leaking details of a proposed electric car to unnamed Chinese recipients. They deny the accusation.

Confidential documents from the French secret services, leaked to Le Parisien, allege that China is showing “curiosity” in all the country’s economic sectors and claim it is “as big a threat as America” in terms of industrial spying.
The reports also revealed methods used by industrial spies, ranging from the basic to the ingenious. They claim that married executives on business trips to China are vulnerable to blackmail after being tempted by prostitutes, while other senior employees have been invited to interviews for nonexistent jobs and found themselves asked about their work andcompany.

One Chinese businessman invited to visit a French factory dipped his tie into a vat of an unnamed product, enabling him to return with a sample. “Others use crepe-soled shoes when they come to pick up bits and pieces from the floors,” one expert told the newspaper.

The documents also claim that a group of Chinese engineers were given six-month training courses after Beijing expressed an interest in buying TGV trains. A few months later, China unveiled its own locomotive, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the French model.

General Daniel Schaeffer, a former French defence attaché in Beijing, said French companies were not doing enough to protect themselves from “very patriotic” Chinese spies.

“If, for example, you display a new technology at a salon where everyone can take photographs, you shouldn’t be surprised if someone copies it,” he said. “French businesses don’t take the necessary measures to protect their information. They’d do well to look at themselves and their own security systems when they lose important information.”

Schaeffer added that Chinese companies were prepared to play a long game, saying: “They’re not in a hurry. They can invite someone 10 times and only ask questions on the 11th meeting.”

Intelligence services also expressed concern about the estimated 20,000 Chinese students in France, many of whom do work experience.

“They’re not all spies, but the sheer number of them means we have to be careful and put in place systems to guard our secrets,” said Peer de Jong, of the French School of Economic Warfare.

The Guardian

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