An employee of the video platform Zoom who is based in China was spying on Chinese dissidents for the Communist Chinese government, according to a federal indictment announced on Friday.
Xinjiang Jin, also known as Julien Jin, was charged with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment and unlawful conspiracy to transfer means of identification. Some of his targets were living in the United States.
Jin served as Zoom’s in-house liaison to the Chinese government and had extensive interaction with Zoom executives in the United States.
John Demers, the assistant attorney general for national security, said that the case shows that U.S. executives are at risk of being co-opted by the Chinese government when doing business with Beijing.
“No company with significant business interests in China is immune from the coercive power of the Chinese Communist Party [CCP],” Demers said in a statement.
That much has been obvious for decades but the lure of being able to do business in a country of a billion people proves too much for most. The price paid for being allowed to do that business is usually steep.
Part of that price was Jin himself.
“In that capacity, he regularly responded to requests from the [People’s Republic of China] government for information and to terminate video meetings hosted on Company-1’s video communications platform,” the Justice Department said in its announcement of charges against Jin.
According to the complaint, the Chinese government required Zoom to install Jin as its liaison as part of a “rectification” plan that the company was forced to enter in order to continue doing business in China.
Jin proceeded to unilaterally cancel Zoom meetings and conferences — for the most specious of reasons.
At the behest of the People’s Republic of China, Jin and uncharged co-conspirators infiltrated conferences and allegedly terminated at least four video meetings commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre since January 2019.
The meetings were organized by the company’s US-based users — and some of the participants were survivors of the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations that were brutally crushed by the Chinese government. At least 280 protesters were shot dead.
To achieve the shutdown of the video conferences and terminate members’ accounts, Jin told Zoom executives that the participants had violated the company’s terms of service by distributing child pornography or supporting Islamic State terrorist groups.
There is something truly nauseating about the way American companies grovel before the Chinese Communists. And you have to know that China is loving it. China’s racism and xenophobia go back hundreds of years. They firmly believe themselves superior to all races and all cultures. For centuries, they considered themselves too pure to mix with the “barbarians” of the world.
They haven’t lost that sense of superiority. So when they have the opportunity to prove it, they take it. Humbling America’s giant corporations must give them enormous satisfaction while accomplishing the aims of the state.
Aside from closing up shop and leaving China, American businesses have little choice but to take it.
Update 6:20 p.m.: Zoom reached out to PJ Media after publication of this article. “Zoom is dedicated to the free and open exchange of ideas and supports the U.S. Government’s commitment to protect American interests from foreign influence,” a Zoom spokesperson said. “As the DOJ notes, Zoom has been fully cooperating with them in this matter. We have also been conducting a thorough internal investigation.”
“While the DOJ did not share with us its factual allegations in advance of the public release of the complaint, we learned during the course of our investigation that the China-based former employee charged today violated Zoom’s policies by, among other things, attempting to circumvent certain internal access controls,” the statement continued. “We also learned that this former employee took actions resulting in the termination of several meetings and accounts, and shared or directed the sharing of a limited amount of individual user data with Chinese authorities.”
“At this stage in our investigation, and with the exception of user data for fewer than ten individual users,” the spokesperson said, “we do not believe this former employee or any other Zoom employee provided the Chinese government with user data of non-China-based users. The former employee also potentially shared meeting information for a Tiananmen Square remembrance. There is no indication that any enterprise data was shared with the Chinese government. We terminated this individual’s employment for violating company policies. We have also placed other employees on administrative leave pending the completion of our investigation.”
Zoom said that every American company doing business with China faces challenges. “We have taken actions to make our values clear” and has “made tremendous investments in our platform and have implemented robust policies and safeguards.”
“We will continue to act aggressively to anticipate and combat ever-evolving data security challenges,” Zoom declared.
You can read the full statement here.