A company believed to be linked to Chinese military and intelligence operations has detailed information on approximately 5,000 Canadians.

The information was collected by Zhenhua Data in a massive data-collection campaign believed to be targeting influential members of society for the benefit of China.

The data company scoured public records to create personalized profiles on individuals which also contain information about relatives, political associations, criminal records, and psychological profiles. 

The data was leaked by US academic Professor Chris Balding who fled China in 2018 over fears of his safety. 

“China is absolutely building out a massive surveillance state both domestically and internationally,” said Balding.

“I think it speaks to the broader threat of what China is doing and how they are surveilling, monitoring and seeking to influence… not just their own citizens, but citizens around the world.”

Around 250,000 records of personal data were recovered which also included 52,000 Americans, 35,000 Australians, 10,000 Indians, 9,700 Brits, 2,100 Indonesians, 1,400 Malaysians and 138 from Papua New Guinea. 

The entire database is believed to contain approximately 2.4 million people worldwide. 

Zhenhua chief executive Wang Xuefeng has publicly boasted on Chinese communications app WeChat that he supports “psychological warfare” and “hybrid warfare” operations. 

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, one intelligence analyst called the data leak “Cambridge Analytica on steroids.”

Cambridge Analytica was the British political consulting firm linked to a massive data scandal after the company unethically collected data on millions of Americans and sought to sell it for political purposes.