USA and the UK
Concerns that US Immigration Documents of Chinese Nationals Accessed by China
Canadian news publication The Globe and Mail have reported that the immigration documentation of Chinese nationals emigrating from China to the US are potentially under surveillance by Beijing.
The Globe and Mail claims that the Chinese police own a company which gathers data on people applying for visas from several countries, including the United States.
China is currently “on alert” over immigration from the country. The new UK BN(O) Visa was recently launched exclusively for nationals of Hong Kong, partly in response to Beijing’s controversial security laws in 2020.
For some, this latest news will no doubt be further evidence of the Chinese government’s attempts to supress political dissent and increase surveillance of their citizens abroad.
If the Chinese government gets access to immigration information, it could potentially allow Beijing to exert pressure on their citizens based abroad, particularly those who might be engaging in political dissent.
Monitoring of US immigration documentation could also lead to compromises in American security systems.
There is no doubt that monitoring on immigration applications by the Chinese government is entirely possible and, some would say, assumed. Concerns around data gathering, surveillance and monitoring by the Chinese government, in the United States and in many other countries in the world, is nothing new.
The Globe and Mail report alleges that Beijing Shuangxiong Foreign Service Company is the firm involved in gather data from immigration applications. This company is owned by the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau. Some of the employees working from the firm are believed to be members of the Chinese Communist Party.
In recent months, a number of people suspected to be CCP members have been charged with espionage in America. The suspects allegedly provided false information on US visa applications to gain entry into the U.S.
Surveillance to be Expected
Concerns about the level of surveillance made by the Chinese in regards to immigration applications has been present for some time.
In fact, according to the former Canada ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques “‘it should be assumed that there is no privacy for visa applications made in China”.
Saint-Jacques, who was ambassador to China between 2012 and 2016, said:
“You can bet the Chinese government is interested in knowing who is going to study where abroad, who is going as a tourist and who wants to leave and immigrate.”
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The Chinese government is said to be “on alert” over immigration from the country. [Image credit: FT]
[Image credit: Daderot/Wikimedia Commons]