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A Chinese Army Outpost That's Tucked Into Modern Shanghai

Posted: February 19, 2013

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The Chinese military unit allegedly behind cyberattacks on U.S. firms works out of a nondescript office tower in a Shanghai neighborhood that's modern, but considered a little bland.

This 12-story building houses a Chinese military unit allegedly behind dozens of cyberattacks on U.S. and other Western companies. It's in a modern, if bland, part of Shanghai.

This 12-story building houses a Chinese military unit allegedly behind dozens of cyberattacks on U.S. and other Western companies. It's in a modern, if bland, part of Shanghai. Peter Parks

Some people in Shanghai — especially the foreigners — think the city's new Pudong section of town is dull, without character and profoundly unfashionable.

Twenty years ago, Pudong was mostly farms and warehouses. Today, it's home to those sleek glass-and-steel skyscrapers that have come to define the city's skyline in movies like Skyfall and Mission: Impossible III.

The sprawling district, which has more than 5 million people, doesn't have the columned grandeur of Shanghai's Bund or the lovely restaurants and tree-lined streets of the city's French Concession.

Instead, sections of Pudong feature endless drab apartment blocks, too many massage parlors and lots of karaoke clubs with neon signs.

Pudong is also where I happen to live.

Now, apparently, Pudong has a new claim to fame: some of the most notorious hackers on the planet.

Mandiant, a U.S. cybersecurity firm, says in a report out Tuesday that it has tracked cyberattacks on dozens of companies — most of them American — to Pudong.

And, Mandiant says, the origin of all that hacking is almost certainly a Chinese People's Liberation Army compound here, which houses a group called Unit 61398.

The compound features a 12-story tower with satellite dishes on top as well as signs warning passersby not to take pictures or video. And, you guessed it, right across the street is a karaoke parlor.

The military complex isn't much to look at, but it suggests that there may be a little more to Pudong than meets the eye.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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