All the ways China could keep its eyes and ears on the US-North Korea summit without being there

Photo: Getty Images

US officials are reportedly bracing for China to covertly make its presence known at the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

As the June 12 meeting in Singapore draws near, US intelligence officials are reportedly expecting China – which is believed to have conducted intelligence operations in the country – to keep close tabs on their affairs.

“Chinese intelligence collection could be amped up around the summit,” Jeremy Bash, a former chief of staff to CIA director Leon Panetta, told NBC News this week. “They have prioritised surveillance in recent years and their technical prowess has really advanced.”

“What they would want to get is to know what people in the meetings said and what happened,” another former senior US official said.

Relations between China and the US have remained largely cordial, but the two powers are seen by some as having competing interests as it relates to negotiations with North Korea, and other matters.

Here’s a look at some of the ways China may try to keep eyes and ears on the summit, and ways the US will be combatting them in Singapore:


Waiters and other workers at restaurants and bars

US officials were reportedly concerned that China may have employed informants working as waiters and other staff at restaurants and bars in Singapore. If true, these potential staff members would compensated to eavesdrop on US citizens and then pass on information to China.

Source: NBC News


Bugged devices in meeting rooms

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Capella Hotel, the venue in which Trump is expected to meet Kim Jong Un, will reportedly be swept for covert listening devices, particularly in rooms where side conversations may occur.

Source: NBC News


Hidden cameras

Getty/Spencer Platt

Hidden cameras could be used to photograph classified documents. Tents are one way to prevent any covert spying from afar.

Source: NBC News


No battery, no problem

Officials were told to remove their cell phone batteries if they were concerned about someone listening in, a US intelligence official said. Chinese intelligence agencies are believed to have the capability to infiltrate mobile phones, even if they have been powered off.

Source: NBC News


Listening devices in hotel key cards

Recently, a top US official in China was discovered to have had a microphone embedded in his hotel key card, several US officials said. The official reportedly had difficulty with opening his door and had to replace it several times with the hotel staff.

Sources told NBC News that the Chinese planted listening and tracking devices inside chips planted in credit cards, keychains, and jewellery.

Source: NBC News


‘Friendship pins’

When Trump went to China in November, the host nation reportedly gave US delegation members “friendship pins” to wear. But security officials prohibited members from wearing the pins in secured areas in case the pins contained listening devices.

Source: NBC News


No carry-on restrictions

Pavel Ilyukhin / Shutterstock.com

Officials told NBC News that when they left their hotel rooms in China, their belongings were searched. Trump officials reportedly kept items they didn’t want China to know about inside carry-on bags that the US delegation kept with them at all times.

Source: NBC News


Watch and learn

Huawei Instagram

In one case, a Chinese general reportedly appeared to record his US counterparts during a meeting at the US Pentagon. Whenever the US military officials would speak, the Chinese general aimed a large watch at them, according to two officials familiar with the incident.

Source: NBC News

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