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The Weekly Brief

Just a quick update in case you missed it.

Released on 21.04.2023

There’s no technical fix to a problem driven by ideology

There are three main national security risks with the PRC-owned video-sharing app, TikTok, that Australians should be concerned about. Two of them—data and content manipulation—are applicable to most other major social media apps regardless of their country of origin. The third risk, that a single political party, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has decisive leverage over TikTok, exacerbates the other two risks and is unique to TikTok as a major mainstream social media app. The first and most discussed risk is about data. Following years of scrutiny, TikTok has been forced to be more forthcoming about the fact that TikTok user data is accessible and has been accessed from the PRC.

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Southern Mongolia: The CCP Mobilizes Traditional Culture Against Religion

The CCP has conducted for many years a policy of appropriation of cultural forms of ethnic groups they have colonized and Sinicized. These forms are deprived of their millennia-old spiritual meaning and reduced to tourism-oriented folklore. Worse still, their content is transformed and mobilized for CCP propaganda purposes. Some of these appropriated and corrupted forms of ethnic culture are then registered as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, which is presented as an acknowledgement by the international community that these traditions are indeed “Chinese.”

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Leaked Documents Show How Russia, China Collaborate on Censorship

Leaked documents provided to VOA’s sister network RFE/RL confirm reports that Russia and China collaborate on censorship and internet control tactics. The materials detail documents and recordings said to be from closed-door meetings in 2017 and 2019 between officials from the Chinese and Russian agencies charged with policing the internet in both countries. In those documents and recordings — reported on by RFE/RL — officials from both countries share strategies for tracking dissent and controlling the internet, including requests for help to block “dangerous” news articles and advice on beating circumvention technology.

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Why China’s police state has a precinct near you

Beijing has been operating an overseas police station in New York. And London. And Rome. And Tokyo. And Toronto.

The Department of Justice’s indictment of two Chinese citizens this week for using the unlawful Chinese police station in Manhattan to go after dissidents highlights the growing tentacles of Beijing’s overseas operations, which it uses to harass and silence critics around the world. The network also shows the extent to which Beijing has managed to conduct influence campaigns inside Western countries and violate others’ sovereignty while mostly evading law enforcement.

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Germany rethinks China’s Hamburg port deal as further doubts raised

A new internal report by the German economy ministry, obtained by POLITICO, accuses the Hamburg port operating company of failing to properly register the terminal in question as “critical infrastructure,” which would have changed the scope of the deal. A joint investigation by German public broadcasters WDR and NDR, along with German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, reported it first. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat, pushed the deal through last October for Chinese state company Cosco to buy a minority stake in the Tollerort terminal in the Hamburg port, ahead of a state visit to China. But this came amid objections within his three-party coalition government, with members of the Green party and liberal FDP expressing concerns about undue Chinese influence.

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Taiwanese publisher of banned books is detained in Shanghai

A Taiwanese publisher who published many books banned in China is believed detained in Shanghai, according to a leading Chinese literary figure, sparking comparisons with the cross-border detentions and kidnappings of five Hong Kong booksellers in 2015. Li Yanhe, known by his pen-name Fucha, or Fuchsia, was detained after traveling to visit relatives in China, writer Bei Ling told Radio Free Asia on Thursday. "I heard it through literary circles in Shanghai," Bei said. "We know that he has been detained, but not where he is."

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British government fends off growing concern over Chinese infiltration in London

The British police are investigating a number of alleged Chinese police stations in the country as it emerged that a businessman with ties to the Communist Party's United Front operations was photographed rubbing shoulders with then-Prime Minister Theresa May. Faced with a barrage of questions in parliament, government ministers declined to comment in detail on a report in The Times newspaper about the alleged police stations, which Beijing says are offices to help overseas Chinese with various administrative affairs, but which human rights groups say are used to spy on dissidents and try to bring them back to China.

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