Walter Opfermann from the state office for counterintelligence in Baden-Württemberg said on Tuesday that state-backed Chinese spying via the web had already become extremely sophisticated – going beyond merely acquiring information.
He said Beijing could also “unleash effective sabotage” on German targets, posing a growing “threat to critical infrastructure” such as the country's power grid.
The internet is also apparently being used for industrial espionage alongside traditional methods of stealing knowhow at German companies. Opfermann said China – but also Russia – used spying over the web “to save billions on their own economic research and development.”
He estimated such industrial espionage cost German companies roughly €50 billion each year.