The Information Engineering University (IEU) is designated very high risk due to its record of training signals intelligence and political warfare officers and carrying out offensive cyber operators.
IEU was formed in June 2017, combining the old Information Engineering University with the PLA Foreign Languages University.https://web.archive.org/web/20190805040547/http://henan.sina.com.cn/news/2017-06-14/detail-ifyfzfyz3929313.shtml PLA experts have described IEU as ‘the sole military academy for the cyber and electronic warfare arms of China’s network-electronic forces’.https://ndupress.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/stratperspective/china/china-perspectives_13.pdf p51
The IEU is currently subordinate to the PLA Strategic Support Force’s Network Systems Department, which holds the military’s signals intelligence capabilities. Previously, the university was run by the General Staff Department Third Department (commonly known as 3PLA), the PLA’s signals intelligence service that has been incorporated into the Strategic Support Force. IEU’s command tracks include Network Engineering (网络工程), which is dedicated to the cultivation of cyber attack and defense technical cadre (网络攻防技术干部).http://archive.ph/BCaWw It is responsible for the construction of the Henan Provincial Laboratory of Visible Light Communication (河南省可见光通信重点实验室).https://web.archive.org/web/20191122061701/http:/henan.sina.com.cn/news/m/2016-02-22/detail-ifxprucs6326881.shtml
The university is primarily known for research and training on hacking, cryptography, signals processing, surveying and mapping, and navigation technology. However, since absorbing the PLA Foreign Languages University, it now serves as one of the most important language schools for Chinese military intelligence officers, describing itself as a ‘whole-military foreign languages training base for individuals going abroad’.https://web.archive.org/web/20170825145130/http://zhaosheng.plaieu.edu.cn/contents/249/508.html While the PLA Foreign Languages University is best known for training signals intelligence officers,https://ndupress.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/stratperspective/china/china-perspectives_13.pdf it has also trained many officers in the PLA’s political warfare wing, the Central Military Commission Political Work Department Liaison Bureau.See, for example, the description of Huang Biaoliang in fn217 on p73 https://project2049.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/P2049_Stokes_Hsiao_PLA_General_Political_Department_Liaison_101413.pdf
Economic espionage and misconduct
- In 2013, cyber analysts identified a hacker as an IEU professor, Zhang Changhe (张长河).https://web.archive.org/web/20170928102115/https:/www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-02-14/a-chinese-hackers-identity-unmasked Zhang is alleged to have penetrated government agencies in Vietnam, Brunei and Myanmar, an embassy in China, oil companies and a nuclear safety agency. As an IEU employee, Zhang had published research on rootkit, a kind of malicious software.Ruan, Wenbo 阮文波, Zhang, Changhe 张长河, Liu, Shengli 刘胜利. “基于指令跳转分析的Windows RootKit动态检测技术” [Dynamic Rootkit Detection Methdology Based on Branch Instruction Analysis]. Journal of Information Engineering University 信息工程大学学报 Vol 8 No 2 (June 2007): 221-226. Malware that might be linked to Zhang also infected computers in Taiwan, the Philippines, as well as Russian and Ukrainian government agencies. In 2015, Zhang established a Veda (北京卫达信息技术有限公司), a cybersecurity company specialising in ‘AI dynamic defence’ technology.https://web.archive.org/web/20190805061100/https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/veda ; https://web.archive.org/web/20190805061116/https://www.sohu.com/a/304020553_468736?sec=wd The company claims to have high numbers of ex-PLA members in its team and runs an R&D centre in Zhengzhou, the same city as IEU.https://web.archive.org/web/20190805061651/https:/bbs.pediy.com/thread-225532.htm
An image of Zhang (centre) published by Bloomberg, taken from Zhang’s personal blog
- ASPI International Cyber Policy Centre’s 2018 report ‘Picking flowers, making honey’ identified two institutions used by IEU personnel as cover when publishing or travelling abroad.https://www.aspi.org.au/report/picking-flowers-making-honey Dozens of scientists claiming to be from these two institutions, the Zhengzhou Information Science and Technology Institute and the Zhengzhou Institute of Surveying and Mapping, have travelled overseas as visiting scholars or conference attendees.
- A 2011 Chinese state television documentary on cyber warfare showed footage of software from IEU with a list of target IP addresses including those belonging to a US university and Falun Gong websites.https://www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/00002221.html In the footage, an individual selects the Falun Gong website org as a target and presses a button labeled ‘attack’.
- New Zealand Member of Parliament Yang Jian completed an English language major at the Air Force Engineering University, then known as the Air Force Engineering College (空军工程学院). After graduating in 1982 he stayed on as a lecturer, teaching English to intelligence officers.https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/96800358/national-mp-jian-yang-slams-defamatory-claim-he-was-trained-by-chinese-spies He later worked and studied at the PLA Foreign Languages University and was affiliated with the Australian Studies Centre. However, in Yang’s New Zealand citizenship application, he did not mention his affiliations with the PLA and instead claimed to have worked and studied at Luoyang University (洛阳大学) between 1978 and 1982—the period when he was studying at the Air Force Engineering University.https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-20/nz-mp-linked-to-chinese-spy-school-also-worked-for-dfat/9069602 Luoyang University was only established in 1980.https://web.archive.org/web/20190409165040/http://www.lit.edu.cn/xxgk/xxzc.htm Yang maintains he did not lie about his background: ‘It is not a false declaration. When I left China I was asked by the system to use my partnership universities.’https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11922025
Noteworthy international collaborations
- ASPI International Cyber Policy Centre’s 2018 report ‘Picking flowers, making honey’ identified two institutions used by IEU personnel as cover when publishing or travelling abroad.https://www.aspi.org.au/report/picking-flowers-making-honey Dozens of scientists claiming to be from these two institutions, the Zhengzhou Information Science and Technology Institute and the Zhengzhou Institute of Surveying and Mapping, have travelled overseas as visiting scholars or conference attendees. They have visited and worked in countries including Australia, Canada, the United States.https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-military-sends-more-scholars-abroad-at-times-without-schools-knowledge-1540814409
- In 1992, the PLA Foreign Languages University established an Australian Studies Centre. The Centre was created with assistance from the Australia Defence Force Academy and the Australia-China Council, an Australian government body that fostered exchange with China, which gifted the PLA five hundred books and subscriptions to ten periodicals.The Australian Studies Centre of the PLA Foreign Languages University : Proceedings. Luoyang: Zhongguo ren min jie fang jun wai guo yu xue yuan Aodaliya yan jiu zhong xin, 1992. Print.
- The US-China Education Trust, a non-profit that seeks to ‘promote US-China relations through education and exchange for next-generation leaders’, lists Luoyang Foreign Languages University as a partner university.http://www.uscet.net/partners/luoyang-foreign-languages-university
Last updated 25 November 2019. Unclear about any wording? Visit the terminology page.