China’s Culture Of Spying

Max Fisher summarizes a story that “chronicles the life and work of Qi Hong, a specialist in removing surveillance equipment who might do dozens of freelance jobs for government officials every week”:

Chinese officials have taken to hugging one another at every meeting — not a traditional Chinese practice — to pat down one another for bugs, Qi says that a government official from Shanxi province told him. Qi tells story after story of removing tiny, high-tech, professional spying devices from the offices and cars of officials. Some of them expected it, others didn’t. One speculated that the spying had been ordered by his mistress, wondering if she herself had been “planted” by a rival official. The ones who did not find spying equipment seemed to assumed it was only because the cameras or microphones were too sophisticated to be detected.

Fisher theorizes that the “culture of no-holds-barred spying that seems to have pervaded Chinese officialdom might also inform why some of those same officials have seemed so aggressive about spying on others — including foreigners.”