The Chinese Communist Party’s Human Hack of Western Companies

Late last week, the British and Australian press were abuzz with a news story that deserves more attention—and scrutiny—here inside the U.S. The story centers on an alleged database of approximately 1.95 million members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) around the world, many of whom work for or who have ties to Western companies or even government agencies. The dataset also reportedly identifies nearly 80,000 branches of the CCP. Hundreds of the individuals identified by name work in defense contracting and pharmaceutical industries. Companies with household names such as Boeing, Volkswagen, IKEA, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Rolls Royce, among many others, all reportedly employ CCP members. Some of those identified in the database work for Western consulates as well.

Chinese dissidents surreptitiously downloaded the list from a CCP server in Shanghai in 2016 and have been using it for their own counterintelligence purposes ever since. It was published on Telegram earlier this year and then passed along to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), a relatively new and independent body composed of legislators and others concerned about the CCP’s influence across the West.  

“A representative of IPAC received this list from a non-governmental source, but was not in a position to verify it, so handed it to experts,” IPAC said in a statement on Dec. 13. “Journalists have since investigated and their findings are disturbing indeed. IPAC will push for governments and companies to respond setting out how they intend to safeguard their values in the face of infiltration.” 

Thus far, the U.S. government hasn’t officially weighed in on the database’s authenticity. It’s a safe bet that American officials, particularly those working in counterintelligence roles, are well aware of its existence and working to confirm its contents. Meanwhile, The Australian broke the story Down Under while right-of-center press outlets in the U.K., such as SkyNews and the tabloid Daily Mail, have been reporting on it. 

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