China’s Military Spies on Hong Kong From Mountain Base
China’s Military Spies on Hong Kong From Mountain Base

The Chinese regime’s military has a listening station on Hong Kong’s Tai Mo Mountain, the highest point in southern China, which they are allegedly using to spy on Hong Kong residents. From it, the Chinese military is likely monitoring phone calls, Wi-Fi traffic, and personal emails of people in Hong Kong.

Details were reported in the latest edition of the Canadian Chinese-language magazine Kanwa Information Review, which spoke with security experts who reviewed satellite images and traveled to the base.

The size and siting of the installation suggest it is not a radar station. It has a diameter of 51 feet—larger than a local radar station for civil aviation and one used as an observatory, according to Kanwa Information Review.

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According to IHS Jane’s, the site and its perimeter covers an area of more than 100,000 square feet. The site contains a geodesic dome with an antenna mast nearby. Satellite imagery shows three such domes in total. It is also surrounded by fences topped with razor-wire and, according to IHS Jane’s intelligence, there are several security cameras on-site.

IHS Jane’s reports it has observed Chinese military vehicles driving up Tai Mo Mountain on two occasions to deliver supplies or replace staff. It reports, “It is extremely likely that it is an electronic and signals intelligence (ELINT/SIGINT) facility.”

Spying on Hong Kong

According to Hong Kong’s Apple Daily, a building near the listening station is guarded by at least 50 soldiers. The paper published a photo that shows soldiers wearing helmets and the “07-Style” blue military uniforms typically worn by members of the Chinese regime’s air force.

Their uniforms have no insignia and, according to the report, the soldiers are likely part of the Chinese military’s Third Department assigned for cyberspying. The People’s Liberation Army General Staff Department, Third Department, is the signals intelligence branch of the Chinese military, which also runs its cyberattacks against other countries.

The Third Department is one of the Chinese military’s three departments assigned to warfighting through espionage and unconventional warfare. The other two departments, also under the General Staff Department, are the Second Department, which focuses on human intelligence, and the Fourth Department, which focuses on electronics intelligence.

A monitoring station of the Chinese regime's military is shown in Google Earth in Hong Kong. The station is allegedly being used to spy on Hong Kong citizens. (Google)

A monitoring station of the Chinese regime’s military is shown in Google Earth in Hong Kong. The station is allegedly being used to spy on Hong Kong citizens. (Google)

Controversial Site

Hong Kong media reported the Chinese military began construction of the base on Tai Mo Mountain three years ago. IHS Jane’s said construction began around 2010, and it has been operational for three years. Satellite imagery of the site first appeared in 2011.

IHS Jane’s reported in July, “The Hong Kong government has admitted giving the PLA a plot of land” that fits the site’s description. It adds, however, the site’s “existence has not been publicly confirmed.”

In Hong Kong, there is controversy over whether the base operated by the Chinese regime violates the 1994 Sino-British Defense Land Agreement on military bases.

The People’s Liberation Army occupies 19 military sites in Hong Kong, if the site on Tai Mo Mountain is included.

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The station at Tai Mo Mountain is in an area allocated for the Hong Kong government, which is not designated for military use. It appears the land was transferred secretly by authorities in Hong Kong to the Chinese regime, which then used it to build a military barracks and listening station that are in violation of the 1994 treaty.

The Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily reached out to the Hong Kong Security Bureau, which declined to comment since the base relates to military secrets. The Hong Kong military also declined to comment.

According to IHS Jane’s, the People’s Liberation Army has also refused to explain the purpose of the site.

Local Hong Kong legislator Kenneth Chan asked the Security Bureau’s secretary, Lai Tung-kwok, about the station on grounds of whether it violated Hong Kong law. Lai said the site was for communication. He claimed it was not a military facility, yet declined to comment further, saying it concerned military secrets.

China’s Surveillance State

The Chinese regime’s Third Department operates numerous listening stations throughout China.

It has a base in Kashgar. The westernmost city in China is in Xinjiang Province, home to the Uyghur minority. It also has bases in Tibet near the India-China border. The Chinese regime also has three listening stations across the strait from Taiwan and on disputed islands in the South China Sea—so the listening station in Hong Kong would close the circle of its monitoring operations in all Chinese regions calling for democracy or independence.

In addition, however, the Chinese regime operates many other monitoring sites. The major ones are located near China’s borders, with only a few exceptions.

Among the Chinese regime’s other major listening stations are sites in Jilemutu near the Russian border, Erlian near the Mongolian border, four near the Vietnam border including in Hainan and Kunming, two near the North Korean border, as well as many others.

Students hold their cell phone lights during pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on Oct. 1. The Chinese regime is allegedly spying on cell phones of Hong Kong citizens from a nearby mountain military base. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Students hold their cell phone lights during pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on Oct. 1. The Chinese regime is allegedly spying on cell phones of Hong Kong citizens from a nearby mountain military base. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

The monitoring station on Hong Kong’s Tai Mo Mountain complements other means used by the Chinese regime to spy on Hong Kong citizens.

Security company Volexity recently found what it believes are Chinese government hackers infecting pro-democracy websites in Hong Kong.

“It looks like someone is trying to infect and keep tabs on all pro-democracy people in Hong Kong,” Steven Adair, CEO of security company Volexity, told Epoch Times in a previous interview.

The attacks on pro-democracy websites in Hong Kong were accompanied by similar attacks that targeted the cell phones of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. The attack was uncovered by researchers at Lacoon Mobile Security on Sept. 30, who believe the Chinese regime is using it to spy on Hong Kong residents involved in the protests.

There have also been more bizarre cases of the Chinese regime spying on Hong Kong residents. In June 2010, it was uncovered that “inspection and quarantine cards” installed inside the front window of all dual-plate Chinese-Hong Kong vehicles contained listening devices.

The devices, which were obtained and independently tested by Hong Kong’s Apple Daily, could allegedly be used to eavesdrop on conversations.

Translation by Frank Fang.

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