Journalist Val A. Villanueva cited that China’s most potent weapon is its capability to spy on its neighbors using cyberspace.
“Based on past forays of China in other countries’ telecommunications industry, its goal appears to be total control—from infrastructure to data piracy, resources, and debt-trap financing,” said Villanueva.
There are grounds for suspicion against China. The United States (US) has been suspecting the Asian giant as a threat to its national security, resulting in the inclusion of Chinese tech companies on its economic blacklist. In addition, social media networks like Twitter discovered and removed China-linked accounts for spreading propaganda, stirring misinformation, and attacking critics.
One recent example, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison disclosed that his country was under broad cyberattack from a “sophisticated state-based cyber actor” and warned his fellow Australians of the matter.
Morrison shared that several sensitive agencies, including “all levels of government, industry, political organizations, education, health, essential service providers, and operators of other critical infrastructure,” were hit by the cyberattack.
While he refused to reveal the name of the culprit, he stated that it could originate from a few capable states. Suspicions fall naturally on Beijing under these factors:
- Australia called out against Communist Party interests.
- Australia recently called out China for a probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Much like the US, Australia opposed China’s activities described as “coercion,” which includes covert influence campaigns and the use of technology companies as a tool for intelligence-gathering and geopolitical leverage.
These powerful nations expressed concerns in which China is also micro-handling other states, including the Philippines, where most situations involved territorial disputes like in the case of the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines, however, moved to improve its network infrastructure by establishing a third major telco player, DITO Telecommunity, co-owned by China Telecom and Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corporation and Chelsea Logistics. While China Telecom is a minor stakeholder of DITO, the Chinese state-owned company handles its technological infrastructure in the country.
If such China’s implicit move to infiltrate the country’s crucial assets doesn’t suffice, former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario warned: “Other countries, such as Australia, Japan, the US, and the European Union (EU) have recently enacted measures to prevent China from taking over their strategic and vital industries like energy, technology, and telecommunications.
“It’s time for Filipinos to unite and demand what is due from China. Filipino authorities have the right to seize assets and properties owned by the Chinese state here in the Philippines to satisfy China’s debt to the Filipino people once China’s full monetary damages are determined,” he added.