China has launched an anti-espionage investigation against US-based Coca-Cola for allegedly conducting illegal mapping in many sensitive areas of the mainland,a move that may escalate a spying row between Beijing and Washington.
The case is being handled jointly by National Administration of Surveying,Mapping and Geo-information and Ministry of State Security.
The involvement of the top intelligence authority underscores the seriousness of the case,the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported. We understand that espionage is a serious charge against a world-famous company, said an official from the administration. We are still in the process of gathering information,the report said.
What we can say for now is that many subsidiaries of Coca-Cola are involved and this happens in many provinces. Due to sheer scale of the case,complexity of technology and implication to national security,we are working with Ministry of State Security, the official said.
The news came after Li Pengde,deputy director of the administration,openly accused the beverage giant on a national radio programme Tuesday and said some of its employees were caught using hand-held GPS devices to collect sensitive geographic information in Yunnan province. Coca-Cola said the GPS devices were used to improve fuel efficiency and customer service. Coca-Cola said it was co-operating fully with investigations.