According to a report
published by researchers Chris C. Demchak and Yuval Shavitt, China Telecom is redirecting sensitive internet traffic between the U.S. and other countries through China. China itself only has 3 major access nodes that connect to other countries, leaving China's network relatively isolated from the rest of the internet. The report suggests that China's "technological development process" is "dependent on massive expropriation of foreign R&D," and notes that China signed a deal to stop their military forces from hacking western commercial targets 2015. Therefore, to spy on sensitive data, China would have to do it through a 3rd party. That's where China Telecom comes in: the state owned company has "ten strategically placed, Chinese controlled internet 'points of presence' (PoPs) across the internet backbone of North America," which they use to redirect some data back through China. For example, routes between Canadian and South Korean government sites normally take a direct route overseas. But in 2016, the researchers noticed that data passing through a China Telecom node would be redirected back to the Chinese mainland before going back to Korea. In another case, connections between a "Anglo-American bank headquarters in Milan, Italy " and branches in the U.S. were hijacked. The paper also notes that there's no reciprocity, as major western ISPs don't have a major presence outside of Hong Kong. The researchers say that an "Access Reciprocity" policy needs to be implemented by governments to control these kinds of attacks.