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The Weekly Brief

Just a quick update in case you missed it.

Released on 09.02.2024

TikTok is snooping on users. Why don’t they seem to care?

Microsoft, the world’s most valuable company, is “erasing” the suffering of the persecuted Uyghur minority from internet searches in China, The Post has learned. Results from the tech giant’s Bing search engine show how its Chinese users are presented with different results from American users. And in the most egregious example, Bing image results for the term “Uyghur” when entered in China display cheerful Uyghurs smiling and dancing — part of a larger propaganda effort to persuade the world Uyghurs lead idyllic lives under Chinese rule.

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Hong Kong police vow to hunt exiled activist Agnes Chow ‘for life’

Hong Kong police have officially listed overseas democracy activist Agnes Chow as a wanted person after she skipped bail and fled to Canada in December, warning they will “pursue her for life,” pro-China newspapers and an official police account reported on Wednesday. “No fugitive should imagine they can evade criminal prosecution by absconding or leaving Hong Kong,” Andrew Kan, deputy commissioner of the city's national security police, told journalists in comments reported by the Beijing-backed Wen Wei Po and the official Chinese police account on Weibo.

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S. Korea’s regrettably late call to China on halting North Korean defector repatriation

In a recent phone call, South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Cho Tae-yul requested special cooperation from his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Cho aims to protect North Korean defectors from forced repatriation, according to the ministry. Although the details of Cho’s comments remain undisclosed, the act of a South Korean foreign minister formally addressing the issue of North Korean defectors being forced to return with China’s foreign minister marks a significant departure from typical South Korean diplomatic practice.

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Chinese Firm Behind ‘News’ Websites Pushes pro-Beijing Content Globally, Researchers Find

More than 100 websites disguised as local news outlets in Europe, Asia and Latin America are pushing pro-China content in a widespread influence campaign linked to a Beijing public relations firm, digital watchdog Citizen Lab has found. Spread over websites in 30 countries, the propaganda material is interspersed with news aggregated from local news outlets and Chinese state media, according to a research report the Toronto-based group released on Wednesday.

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The New Regulations for Religions in Xinjiang: Part of a Wider Campaign Against Religion

China’s Xinjiang Province, home to predominantly Muslim ethnic groups, will come under a new set of regulations on February 1, whose translation was published by “Bitter Winter” on January 8, significantly restricting religious expression. This move tightens government control over religious practices and is part of a wider campaign to control religion in the region. Notably, all new places of worship must now adhere to “Chinese characteristics and style,” potentially altering the architectural and cultural identity of religious sites.

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The tragic story of a North Korean “defector hunter”

In early November 2012, North Korea’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) made it a top priority to completely stop illegal border crossings and defections during the reign of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. In response, the counterintelligence departments of the ministry’s local branches along the North Korea-China border made it their foremost goal to reduce the number of defectors to “zero” by using all means and methods. The MSS ordered its branches along the border to set up a system to control defectors in China and even in South Korea by finding ways to infiltrate new spies among them.

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China-Linked Hackers Lurk in Critical US Systems

China-linked hackers targeting key sectors of the U.S. economy appear to have been hiding in key computer systems and networks for at least five years, according to a new warning from the United States and key allies, who urge companies to take urgent action to mitigate the risk. The cybersecurity advisory issued Wednesday by multiple U.S. agencies, including the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), states that a cyberthreat group known as Volt Typhoon has been "positioning itself to launch destructive cyberattacks that would jeopardize the physical safety of Americans."

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