FireEye claimed this Chinese cyber ring has been collecting business intelligence focusing on sectors such as engineering, transport and defence with the operations located in Hainan Island and its activities concentrated on Southeast Asia.
FireEye, which have been active in exposing Chinese espionage activities in the past, identified the group as Advanced Persistent Threat 40 (APT40), saying its researchers had concluded with "high confidence" that it was part of China’s online spying operations with its activities dated back to at least January 2013. FireEye said that APT40 targeted government-sponsored projects and was collecting business intelligence on major projects including proposals, meetings, financial data, shipping information, plans and drawings relating to the One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR).
OBOR is an initiative proposed and led by the Chinese government involving infrastructure development and investments in 152 countries and international organizations in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. OBOR is about improving the physical infrastructure along land corridors that roughly equate to the old silk road. The projects receive financial support from the Silk Road Fund and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank while they are technically coordinated by the B&R Summit Forum.
OBOR addresses an "infrastructure gap" and thus has the potential to accelerate economic growth across the Asia Pacific area, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe. The gaping need for long term capital explains why many Asian and Eastern European heads of state "gladly expressed their interest to join this new international financial institution focusing solely on 'real assets' and infrastructure-driven economic growth.
In summary, countries that agreed, willingly agreed to participate in the OBOR initiative. The projects that will be built in the participating countries will be funded together by the participating countries and China, who mooted the OBOR initiative. Logically, in this case, is it still necessary for the Chinese government to spy and collect information from these participating countries?
Anyway, even without this OBOR initiative, it is an open secret that countries spied and collect intelligence on each other.
Our Prime Minister said in response to a query from a reporter on whether the country should be concerned if we use Huawei's products in a forum in Tokyo at the end of May 2019 replied - "What's there to spy in Malaysia? We are an open book."
So is there a need for this alleged Chinese cyber ring to spy on South East Asian countries? Maybe FireEye should be more specific and reveal the details of the business intelligence that it claimed this cyber ring is 'stealing' from the South East Asian countries.