New York: There could be more to China’s enthusiasm about the World Expo than meets the eye, according to current and former US officials, who claim the Expo provides a perfect opportunity for the Chinese to spy on Americans.
The Expo will attract over 70 million visitors including some of the world’s biggest business magnates.
It will be a showcase of over 200 participating nations with food stands and exhibits that will give the visitors a glimpse of their individual cultures.
"The event will be the first registered world exhibition held in a developing country, demonstrating the international community`s trust in China and its anticipation of the country`s future development," said a video released by event organisers.
"Expo Shanghai provides an opportunity for China to see the world, and the world to see China."
However, according to FOX News, intelligence officials are apprehensive about such international events being held in China, which they feel will allow locals to interact with US experts and glean information regarding dual-use and sensitive technologies.
A 2008 report, titled `Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage`, mentioned the World’s Expos specifically, noting that intelligence and information collection in such "open forums accounted for over four percent of reported suspicious incidents" in the previous year.
"Such events offer host-country intelligence agencies the opportunity to spot, assess, and even recruit new intelligence sources within the US private sector and to gain electronic access to companies` virtual networks and databases through technology brought to the events by corporate personnel," it said.
Marion “Spike” Bowman, a veteran of the intelligence community, who as the nation’s Deputy National Counterintelligence Executive at the time helped draft the 2008 report, echoed the concerns mentioned in it.
"If you take your blackberry and you go back home and you sync it up to your Internet and to your office files, the chances of you being penetrated by a bug that`s been planted in your blackberry are just too high to merit the risk," Fox News quoted Bowman as saying.
In China, for example, a hotel maid could simply install a file on a guest’s computer. To make things "even easier," a hotel employee could steal information through a guest`s use of the hotel’s Internet service, she added.