China Accuses Mystery Green Group of Collecting Data Near Navy
(Bloomberg) -- China has punished an unnamed non-governmental organization for collecting “sensitive” maritime data and sharing it abroad, highlighting Beijing’s control of information that undercuts the official narrative on environmental issues.
The NGO set up coastal monitoring stations near military sites to track offshore debris, threatening China’s national security, the Communist Party’s highest law enforcement body, the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission said on its website Monday. The NGO’s activities came to light after being discussed at a conference in 2019, the body said, without naming the group or explaining why the incident was only now being reported.
“The navy’s evaluation said that the information from the organization’s 22 surveillance sites posed imminent threat to our naval security,” the agency said. “The information it collects, including latitude and longitude, environment, geology, ocean flow and so on, can easily be used by foreign intelligence and military agencies, posing a potential threat to China.”
The group was forced to close the stations, given a warning and had to surrender “illegal income” this year, it said, without providing the date.
While Chinese President Xi Jinping has touted his efforts to protect the environment, including peak carbon goals being discussed this week in Glasgow, he’s also cracked down on the types of civil society groups that usually lead conservation efforts in other countries. The Communist Party has sought to control the narrative on the issue while blocking private groups from getting involved.
The party’s Global Times newspaper separately published a story on the sea-trash incident saying that the data gathered by the NGO “was used by people with ulterior motives abroad to discredit and hype China’s environmental protection cause, which had a negative impact on China’s international image.”
The article contained a screenshot of a report by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization that said the level of debris on Shanghai’s coastline was 10 times higher than what’s found in Australia and the U.S., an assertion the Global Times said was false. The organization is an arm of the Australian government government responsible for scientific research.
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