A Chinese company with links to the Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army has been collecting personal data on some of Hungary’s most influential people and their families, including Hungarian Prime Viktor Orbán’s family, researchers have revealed.
Researchers last month announced that a list containing the personal information of 2.4 million people and 650,000 organizations had been collected by Shenzhen Zhenhua Data Information Technology, a company linked to the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army, Szabad Európa reports.
A total of 710 Hungarians and their relatives had their personal information collected by the CCP-linked data company. Among them were Hungarian politicians, diplomats, judges, police captains, programmers, financial professionals, church leaders, as well as state companies and their employees.
Included on the list were Minister of Justice Judit Varga, Minister of Agriculture István Nagy, State Secretary for National Relations Miklós Soltész, Deputy State Secretary for the Prime Minister’s Office Bertalan Havasi, Director of Communications at Fidesz István Hollik, and Gábor Kubatov, the party leader of Fidesz, and one of his children, just to name a few.
The name of one of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s children also was found on the list, along with the children of Fidesz MPs Antal Rogán, Lajos Kósa, and János Lázár, MEP László Trócsányi, former Mayor of Budapest István Tarlós, former Minister of Foreign Affairs János Martonyi, and Secretary of State Bence Tuzson. Relatives of two of Hungary’s former prime ministers — Peter Medgyessy and Gordon Bajnai — were also discovered on the list.
Among the state-owned companies that the CCP-linked Chinese data firm was keeping tabs on included the Central Hungarian Bank, Hungarian National Asset Management Inc., and MÁV-START Ltd.
In addition to the names of the individuals, the list also features portrait photos, links to the person’s social media profiles, their gender, and in some instances a brief summary of the person’s professional background.
When speaking about what the Chinese government can use the collected data for, Péter Tálas, director of the Strategic Defense Research Institute of The National Civil Service University told Free Europe, “Information about foreigners is a huge advantage not only in foreign and security policy, but also in the economy. If they also have information about kinship, it is an even greater advantage. Who’s who, who they relate to, what their weaknesses are, as this how they can be influenced, including how to be kind to a decision-maker or just by using blackmail. Everyone is trying to get this information.”
In September, a report from the United Kingdom’s Telegraph revealed that the same Chinese tech company also surveilled members of the British Royal Family, high profile politicians, members of the British military, as well as their family members and close associates. According to the report, the documents seen by the UK newspaper were allegedly stolen by an anti-CCP activist who provided the Five Eyes security network of the United States, UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia with the key to the database.
But the Chinese Communist Party isn’t only collecting massive amounts of data on its political adversaries. Chinese state hackers are also carrying out attacks on European governments as well. Last year, the Czech National Cyber and Informational Security Agency (NUKIB) published a report which accused the Chinese government of carrying out a major cyber-attack which targeted the Czech Foreign Ministry.
In June, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accused the CCP hackers of targeting European hospitals and healthcare institutions with cyber-attacks during the height of the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis.