What is BGY? Why is it important to understand, and how could it be used against entities in the West?
The Whistleblower Movement, inspired by the protest heroes of June 4th, 1989, aims to shed light on the often-secretive tactics employed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to maintain control over the Chinese people. One such tactic is the term “BGY” - but what is BGY? Why is it important to understand, and how could it be used against entities in the West?
BGY is an acronym that stands for "Blue, Gold, Yellow," and refers to a Chinese intelligence gathering and influence operations program that is believed to have been established by the CCP. The "Blue" component of the program is focused on gathering intelligence through cyber operations, as the term for “blue” in Mandarin Chinese is pronounced “Lan,” thus drawing a connection between LAN (Local Area Network) in computer networking. The "Gold" component involves the use of economic incentives to influence individuals and organizations, as gold is still considered a valuable element such as platinum or silver. Lastly, the "Yellow" component involves the use of sexual or romantic entanglements to coerce or compromise individuals. In China, sexual films and other forms of media are often referred to as “yellow,” similarly to how in the US, pornographic material is referred to as the color “blue,” as to which the origins are still debated to this day.
The information available about BGY is largely based on allegations and reports from various sources. However, there have been several notable examples of individuals and organizations that have been accused of being involved in BGY operations, or of being targeted by the program.
Examples of BGY in Action
One example of BGY in action is the case of Christine Fang, also known as Fang Fang (方方). Fang is a Chinese national who was active in politics in the United States, and was reportedly involved in a romantic relationship with Eric Swalwell, a U.S. Representative from California. According to a report by Axios, Fang was suspected of being a Chinese intelligence operative who was working to cultivate relationships with U.S. politicians and other influential individuals as part of a BGY operation. This would be an example of “yellow” tactics.
Another example of BGY in action is the case of Huawei, a Chinese multinational technology company. Huawei has been accused of using its economic influence to gain access to sensitive information and technology, and of using its political connections to further its business interests. These accusations have led some to speculate that Huawei may be involved in BGY operations, although this has not been independently verified. Huawei has been placed on a list of banned companies in the US, and thus encapsulates a very poignant example of the “blue” and “gold” strategy together, using both technological and monetary means.
Further examples would include the bribery case that concluded in 2016 of Sheri Yan, also known as Yan Shiwei (燕秀莲),
"the co-founder and former chief executive officer of the Global Sustainability Foundation, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court...to 20 months in prison for paying more than $800,000 in bribes to John W. Ashe, the late former Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations (“UN”) and 68th President of the UN General Assembly."
Yan, in collusion with another individual named Heidi Piao, also known as Piao Hong (廖红) or Heidi Park, plead guilty to bribery in an attempt to “benefit several Chinese businessmen.”
Effectiveness of BGY
As highlighted in Brigadier General Robert Spalding and Seth Kaufman’s book “Stealth War: How China Took Over While America's Elite Slept,” the CCP has been infiltrating the US, and multiple other nations, through non-kinetic methods for decades. The BGY program serves as a poignant example of these types of strategies. Their usage allows for power and effective infiltration without initiating attention or kinetic conflict.
The use of cyber operations as part of the BGY program can be effective at gathering sensitive information, as cyber-attacks and other forms of cyber espionage can be difficult to detect and can allow access to a wide range of information. Recently, the US has become more aware of this type of infiltration and initiated a ban of TikTok, a Chinese application that the CCP can directly access the data and information of users from, on official government devices. A number of states are also banning it from public employees' usage on official devices as well.
The use of economic incentives as part of the BGY program can be effective at influencing individuals and organizations, as people and organizations may be more likely to act in ways that benefit their own financial interests. There are countless examples in history of the effectiveness of this method.
The use of sexual or romantic entanglements as part of the BGY program can be effective at compromising individuals, as it can be difficult for individuals to resist the influence of strong emotional connections. Appeal to base human instincts or urges is a tactic that, once again, has been used historically to influence people.
The Impact of BGY on Western Countries
The potential existence and activities of the BGY program have raised concerns in Western countries, particularly in the United States. Intelligence gathering and influence operations are common practices among nations, but the use of cyber operations and sexual or romantic entanglements as part of an intelligence gathering program is viewed as particularly insidious and potentially damaging to national security. Furthermore, a way to defend against such tactics is not straightforward.
In addition, the use of economic incentives to influence individuals and organizations can also have negative consequences, such as corrupting the integrity of individuals and undermining the fair competition that is necessary for a healthy market economy. For example, one of the main concerns is that Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges are not subject to the same level of financial reporting and auditing requirements as U.S. companies. This is because Chinese law prohibits accounting firms from providing certain information to foreign regulators without the permission of the Chinese government. This can make it difficult for U.S. regulators to fully assess the financial health and performance of Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges.
Another concern is that Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges are not subject to the same level of oversight and regulation by U.S. authorities as U.S. companies. This is because the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulators have limited ability to access the operations and financial records of companies based in China.
Additionally, some experts argue that Chinese state-owned enterprises that list on US stock exchanges may have an unfair advantage over other companies, as they are able to use state support and influence to gain an edge over competitors.
It's important to note that the US government and regulatory bodies have taken steps to address these concerns, such as the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act of 2020, which aims to de-list companies that do not comply with auditing standards from the US exchanges.
The BGY program is a complex and controversial topic, and the information available about it is limited. However, the allegations and examples that have come to light suggest that it is a real and ongoing concern for Western countries. It is important for individuals and organizations to be aware of the potential risks and to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves and their sensitive information, and to understand that the term is essential to understanding both Chinese and Global politics and current events.
- "Exclusive: Suspected Chinese spy targeted California politicians" by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, Zach Dorfman of the Aspen Institute (https://www.axios.com/2020/12/08/china-spy-california-politicians)
- " Huawei and Its Siblings, the Chinese Tech Giants: National Security and Foreign Policy Implications " by Robert Cottrell, The Guardian (https://2017-2021.state.gov/huawei-and-its-siblings-the-chinese-tech-giants-national-security-and-foreign-policy-implications/index.html)
- "China's Influence & American Interests: Promoting Constructive Vigilance" by The Hoover Institution (https://www.hoover.org/research/chinas-influence-american-interests-promoting-constructive-vigilance)
- “China’s Non-Traditional Espionage Against the United States: The Threat and Potential Policy Responses” by Bill Priestap, Assistant Director, Counterintelligence Division Federal Bureau of Investigation https://www.fbi.gov/news/testimony/chinas-non-traditional-espionage-against-the-united-states
- Spalding, Robert and Kaufman, Seth (2019). “Stealth War: How China Took Over While America's Elite Slept.” Encounter Books.
- “Why a growing number of states are cracking down on TikTok” By Brian Fung, CNN https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/14/tech/tiktok-states/index.html
- “US House bans TikTok from official devices” By Brian Fung, CNN https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/28/tech/house-bans-tiktok/index.html
- “Former Head Of Foundation Sentenced To 20 Months In Prison For Bribing Then-Ambassador And President Of United Nations General Assembly” by Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/former-head-foundation-sentenced-20-months-prison-bribing-then-ambassador-and-president#:~:text=Yan%20pled%20guilty%20in%20January,to%20further%20private%20business%20interests