"China uses a wide range of coercive measures against Lithuania. It implemented aggressive information campaign, applied unofficial economic restrictions, unilaterally lowered diplomatic representation level, and expanded its intelligence collection capabilities, including hostile activities in cyber space," the SSD states in its traditional annual national threat assessment produced in cooperation with the country's military intelligence, the Second Investigation Department under the Ministry of National Defense.

The two institutions say it is highly likely that in order to deter other countries from similar decisions, China will continue to put pressure on Lithuania, however, will officially dispute any accusations related to it in order.

Universities involved

Lithuanian-Chinese ties hit the lowest point last fall when a Taiwanese representation was opened in Vilnius, leading to Beijing's decision to downgrade its diplomatic ties with Vilnius and block Lithuanian exports.

Experts say the Chinese name of the Taiwanese representative office in Vilnius sounds like it's Taiwan's representation, and Beijing views that as the island's attempt to act as an independent state.

According to Lithuania's intelligence, China's aspiration to dominate the world promotes intensive development of the country’s cyber intelligence capabilities, which complement its traditional intelligence gathering techniques.

"China is increasingly using its cyber capabilities against Lithuania. China’s sophisticated cyber espionage groups collect sensitive political, military and commercial information under the direction of Chinese intelligence services," the report reads.

The activities of cyber espionage groups in China are coordinated by two main services – the Ministry of State Security and the Military Intelligence Department.

"The country’s universities, private IT companies, freelance IT experts and cybercriminals are involved in the implementation of cyber intelligence objectives. China demonstrates its high level cyber capabilities by developing sophisticated and advanced malicious system control software tools," the document reads.

Ghostwriter most active in Lithuania

Linked with Russian and Belarusian, the hacker group Ghostwriter has in recent years started carrying out attacks not only against NATO and the national defense system.

"(…) recently it has also tried to exploit the migration crisis and the pandemic," the report states. "Perpetrators likely expanded the scope of topics with an intention to influence a wider part of society and make a larger impact."

Published on Friday, the intelligence's national threat assessment report includes data collected until the start of February and, therefore, it does not look into the military and geopolitical implications of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the current security situation.

It is prohibited to copy and republish the text of this publication without a written permission from UAB „BNS“.
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