Hongkongers, beware: the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) may be listening in on your phone conversations.
Canada-based Kanwa Information Center, which publishes a monthly magazine on Asian defense issues, said its intelligence experts had studied a facility located at the top of Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong’s highest mountain, and concluded that it is not radar meant to scout Hong Kong skies but rather an installation used by PLA to tap communications, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.
The facility, which was reportedly constructed in 2011, measures 15.63 meters in diameter, far larger than the weather radar of the Hong Kong Observatory or the aviation radar. Kanwa said the size allows it to be able to intercept and record signals from cellphones, Wi-Fi networks and radios.
The installation looks similar to other data mining facilities established in Kashgar in the restive Chinese western regions of Xinjiang and Tibet and along the contested border with India, Kanwa said, adding that the experts saw PLA soldiers wearing 2007-style air force military clothes go in and out of the facility.
The soldiers could be working for PLA’s Unit 61398, an alleged source of major Chinese cyber attacks, according to Kanwa.
However, some Hong Kong scholars have questioned the Kanwa report. Cheung Sing-wai, associate professor at the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Hong Kong, said that technically a receiving antenna at the mountain can only pick up phone signals around Tai Mo Shan but not those in Central or Tsuen Wan. The effective range of normal Wi-Fi signals is only about 20 meters and it is impossible to pick them up at the hilltop, he said.
Civic Party legislator Chan Ka-lok and Apple Daily had asked the Security Bureau to provide details of the facility, but the government has been refusing to do so on security grounds, the paper said.
Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok had said the facility is for communication purposes, and not for military use.
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