With Inspection Team in Shanghai, Encryption Becomes Attractive

Government and Party officials are snapping up cell phones that defeat monitoring
By Lu Chen, Epoch Times

Sales were slow in Shanghai for cellphones that offered encryption—then the Communist Party’s disciplinary unit came to town.

The sales of Chinese-made cellphones with encryption have been increasing quickly recently in Shanghai, with the majority of the purchases from governmental organizations, according to the Shanghai Morning Post. The cellphone with encryption can safeguard against various security threats, such as protecting phone calls from being monitored.

A mobile industry veteran in Shanghai indicated to the Post that his company had tried to promote the encrypted cellphones to government departments in the past few years, but didn’t have good sales at all. However, the orders have suddenly increased recently, the source said.

“We had to transfer phones from Shenzhen to Shanghai when Shanghai was out of stock,” the source said. “Every time we transferred 500 to 1,000 cellphones.”

The orders of encrypted phones were mostly from the Shanghai City Government, Municipal Committee of the Communist Party, Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress, and Shanghai Political Consultative Conference, the report said.

“During a regular phone call, if you feel the content is kind of sensitive, you can switch it to encryption mode. It only takes a second,” Mr. Ji, a government worker in Shanghai, told the Post.

The newspaper article attributed the trend of using domestic encrypted phones to reports earlier in July about a security backdoor in Apple’s iPhone. However, some Chinese netizens link the new sales to the recent anti-corruption inspection launched in Shanghai.

“It’s obviously for protecting themselves against the central inspection patrol.” Netizen “karolkao1” remarked.

The netizen “luckhoover” said, “The key word is Shanghai. Why doesn’t it happen in Beijing or Shenzhen?”

A group from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection took residence in Shanghai on July 30 for a two-month inspection into the work of governmental departments and officials, as part of the “anti-corruption” campaign led by President Xi Jinping.

The anti-corruption inspection in Shanghai followed closely on the July 29 announcement of the investigation of “big tiger” Zhou Yongkang, former security czar and senior leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). “Tiger” refers to a high-ranking Party official.

Since the announcement of the investigation of Zhou, there has been a lot of speculation about the possible downfall of Jiang Zemin, the former head of the CCP. Jiang has close ties with Zhou, and is considered the biggest tiger of all.

Jiang’s political power and influence are centered on Shanghai, and so an investigation in Shanghai may indicate that Xi is now targeting Jiang.

The inspection team already has taken down a close associate in Shanghai of Jiang and his son.

Days after the team set up shop in Shanghai, Wang Zongnan, the former chairman of Bright Food (Group) Co. Ltd headquartered in Shanghai, was formally arrested for bribery and embezzlement of public funding.