German media is reporting that at least 47 German universities are cooperating with Chinese universities suspected of being close to state-directed hacker groups, even though some of these institutions have already been victims of hacking attacks. According to a report by Correctiv:
July 21, 2022, According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, suspected Chinese state hacker groups are targeting scientific institutions in Germany. Instead of investing millions, research results can be simply stolen. German universities are an easy target — and often remarkably careless: Several cooperate with Chinese universities, where state hackers are trained. […] CORRECTIV research shows how little awareness German research institutions seem to have of the issue. For example, at least 47 German universities cooperate or have cooperated with one or more of six Chinese universities that, according to a report by the U.S.-based Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), are allegedly close to state-controlled hacker groups. And that’s despite the fact that some of the German institutions involved, such as TU Berlin, have already been victims of hacker attacks themselves. The front-runner in this questionable collaboration is RWTH Aachen University, with four collaborations. Behind it come TU Berlin and TU Munich, each with three collaborations. Confronted with this, the RWTH communicates: It is aware that the Chinese cooperation partners are close to hacker groups. However, the university does not want to publicly discuss the “reclassification or termination of partnerships”. It also reports that it has already been the victim of attacks whose origin could not be clearly determined. The TU Munich did not want to comment on this when asked. According to CORRECTIV research, at least four scientific publications have also resulted from this German-Chinese cooperation in the past four years. [Translated with DeepL]
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According to a report by the US-based Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) cited in the Correctiv article, the following Chinese universities are connected to state-backed hacker groups:
- Hainan University
- Southeast University
- Shanghai Jiao Tong University
- Xidian University
- Zhejiang University
- Harbin Institute of Technology
The Correctiv article was published as part of the “China Science Investigation” project, which researches scientific collaborations and ties between Chinese scientists and European knowledge institutions. The China Science Investigation shows that European universities are collaborating on a large scale with Chinese military institutes, sharing militarily sensitive knowledge and helping China to build the world’s most modern army. The China Science investigation consists of eleven leading European newspapers, which will conduct further research in the coming months and publish more articles. So far, more than 38 articles have been published in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Denmark, and the Netherlands. The Global Influence Operations Report will closely monitor these developments.