Wiretapping devices are pieces of high-tech spying equipment used to eavesdrop on others. Wiretapping is widespread among officials in today’s China and is utilised at all levels of government. Officials wiretap each other to find their opponent’s secrets – then use what they find as a bargaining chip in the promotion process.
While officials are often seen to embrace each other, they’re usually checking whether or not the other party is wearing a wiretapping device. Qi Hong is an expert in spy equipment detection in China. He recently told the media he helped more than 100 officials remove over 300 bugs in 2011.
His job is to locate the wiretap device or pinhole camera in an official’s car, bedroom or office. At his busiest, he has removed more than 40 devices a week. He has also exposed widespread wiretap usage among members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
This can be when a subordinate wants to find proof of his superior’s crimes so as to take his position, when competitors want to find one another’s secrets to use against each other or when superiors want to control subordinates. It’s even used by wives and lovers wanting to grasp insider information.
Huang Qi, founder of 64tianwang.com, commented:
“In Mainland China, officials are chameleons that behave cautiously. They don’t make a political mistake easily. They obey almost all the orders from their superiors. It’s hard to find their crimes politically. The easy way is from their private life and their social connections.”
Spies and police around the world use wiretapping devices to grasp vital intelligence, and countries other than China have had their own bugging scandals. In the US Watergate Scandal, subordinates of President Nixon were found to have broken into the Watergate building to install wiretap devices in order to get hold of secret documents.
The resulting scandal forced Nixon to step down as president. However, in China, wiretapping devices are used in an unusual way.
Former Chongqing Vice-Mayor Wang Lijun wiretapped his boss Bo Xilai. Beipei District Secretary of Chongqing Lei Zhengfu was dismissed over a promiscuous video. Huang Qi believes wiretapping devices aren’t used as a tool to handle corruption.
Instead, they’ve become weapons officials and business interest groups use to control opponents.
“Normally, this kind of acquired information is not used to defeat others, but as a threat. If they have something they can control over others, they can form a group with common interests.”
The CCP has taken its use further by launching a fearsome “wiretapping storm” on dissidents who the CCP believes may hurt its regime.
The Hong Kong Open Magazine published an article by Yi Zhiguang that disclosed Chinese Internet police not only use traditional monitors, cameras and wiretapping devices, but also a dedicated “monitoring account” to spy on dissidents’ actions on the Internet. This includes hacking people’s passwords and copying their log-in system. The Internet police are online 24 hours a day.
Zhu Xinxin, former editor of Hebei People’s Radio, remarked:
“My phone and Internet are monitored. I have no real freedom. In this environment, there’s no rule of law and it has created many ridiculous things. The whole of China has almost turned into a huge prison!”