With recent reports claiming that China has been monitoring more than 10,000 people in India including PM Modi, China seems to have added another layer to its concept of “hybrid warfare”, including continuous Chinese surveillance.
Crux of the Matter
Dragon Watching Over
Recent investigations by The Indian Express, Professor Chris Balding, and others have revealed that Zhenhua Data Information Technology Co. Limited has been monitoring 10,000 Indians. The list of people being tracked includes PM Narendra Modi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde, Cabinet Ministers, several Chief Ministers as well as current and former Army, Navy, and Airforce Chiefs.
The list also includes figures like The Indian Express Chief Editor Raj Kamal Jha, Sachin Tendulkar, film Director Shyam Benegal, Ratan Tata, etc. Over 250,000 records monitored by Zhenhua have been recovered – includes records of 52,000 Americans, 35,000 Australians, 10,000 Indians, 9,700 British, 5,000 Canadians, etc.
What Is Zhenhua Data And Hybrid Warfare?
Zhenhua Data is a self-labelled “hybrid warfare” company working with the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese military and intelligence. The Company registered in 2018, having 20 overseas data processing centres.
Hybrid warfare has been defined as the use of non-military weapons to damage opponents. Zhenhua has described its tools for hybrid warfare as “information pollution, perception management, and propaganda”.
How It Works?
Zhenhua contains an ‘Overseas Key Information Database (OKIDB)’, which collects information not only of the mentioned figures but also of their relatives and colleagues. It builds a database by gathering information from social media platforms, websites, articles, and research papers, etc, aiming to map networks of individuals and organisations as well as their functioning and leadership processes.
Its website was recently taken down on 9 September. An unnamed analyst has claimed that the Zhenhua database is “Cambridge Analytica on steroids”.
Chinese Hybrid Warfare
- The blueprint for ‘Hybrid Warfare’ was developed around 1999 in China.
- 2013: Cybersecurity firm Mandiant made revelations regarding Advanced Persistent Threat 1 (APT 1) of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In its report, the firm claimed that APT 1 has stolen “billions of terabytes of data” of 141 companies from over 20 significant industries.
- 2014: US reported that Chinese hackers stole data of 22 million people – including military personnel, CIA and FBI agents.
- 2017: China reportedly passed a law forcing all Chinese companies operating all over the world to aid the government in “intelligence gathering”.
China’s Internal Surveillance
- China has even more intensive surveillance inside its territory.
- China reportedly has 415 million CCTV cameras installed all over the country.
- 2017: BBC journalist John Sudworth tested the surveillance system and its efficiency. Sudworth was found by the police using surveillance in just 7 minutes.
- Edward Snowden is an American whistleblower who leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013. His disclosures revealed numerous global surveillance programs, many run by the NSA and the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments.
- XKeyscore is a formerly secret computer system used by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) for searching and analyzing global Internet data, which it collects continually. In an official statement from July 30, 2013, the NSA said “XKeyscore is used as a part of NSA’s lawful foreign signals intelligence collection system. …” to legally obtain information.
- The Chinese Dream is a term promoted by Xi Jinping since 2013 within Chinese society that describes a set of personal and national ethos and ideals in China. Xi began promoting the phrase as a slogan in a high-profile visit to the National Museum of China in November 2012 after taking the office of general secretary.
- The Indian Express – Explained: Understanding the language of railway station signboards
- BBC – A Guide to Hindi – 10 facts about the Hindi language
- Firstpost – ‘In Supreme Court, you must speak in English’: CJI Ranjan Gogoi tells judge after hearing him argue in court in Hindi
- The Hindu – Data: Just 26% of Indians speak Hindi as mother tongue