Beijing is surprised about WikiLeaks-released information on US embassies purchasing spying tools and wants Washington to explain the matter, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
"I am sure that many of those who got acquainted with the information had the same question as I had to ask: why do American embassies buy so much secret surveillance equipment? For what purposes did they prepare it?" she told a news briefing on Monday.
Hua said that the disclosed data indicated that the US is "globally engaged in covert surveillance which specifically pertains to its allies".
"I think Washington should give a clear-cut explanation to the international community on this issue", she pointed out.
Her statement comes a few days after WikiLeaks published the "US Embassy Shopping List" database, where it revealed more than 16,000 procurement requests by US embassies around the world.
For example, in an August 2018 procurement request for “Tactical Spy Equipment”, the US embassy in El Salvador asked vendors to provide 94 spy cameras, most disguised as everyday objects such as ties, caps, shirt buttons, watches, USB drives, lighters, and pens", the release said.
"Similar spy cameras were also requested by the US Embassy in Colombia”, according to the document leaked by WikiLeaks.
Another purchase completed in November 2016 from Frankfurt am Main's Regional Procurement Support Office (RPSO) included a list of various items such as "software and hardware solutions for forensic examination of mobile phones".
The list also included "laboratory tool and hardware solutions for forensic examination of mobile phones", "software for expert evaluation and data analysis" from computers, etc. The items were to be delivered to the US Embassy in Podgorica, Montenegro.
WikiLeaks' Twitter account also provided information regarding last year's request made by the US Embassy in Panama, which "sought licenses for Cellebrite's Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) in order to extract data from the phones of people detained or arrested in Panama".
After he disclosed a number of US surveillance programmes in 2013, he had to flee the US where he was facing charges of espionage and theft of government property.