Chinese Surveillance Over India And The World

Chinese Surveillance Over India And The World

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.

Dystopian-Styled Detention Camps in China for Ethnic Minorities like Uighurs

Secret documents pertaining to the internal communication of the Chinese agencies that gave a horrifying picture of what could be a minorities’ detention camp in Xinjiang Province were released. Allegedly, minorities like Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslims living around the region are put into these camps in the name of re-education and are brutally enforced to learn Chinese ideology.

Crux of the Matter
  • Nearly 1 million ethnic minority citizens are kept under hardcore surveillance and severe camping conditions in the Xinjiang Province of China. Surveillance systems helped in finding and transferring these people to detention for re-education merely because they seemed suspicious.
  • The Chinese government has denied the reports, calling them pure fabrication.
  • The severity of the camps is such that detainees are monitored even while they eat, use urinals, or take bath. They are not allowed to have any contact with the outside world except talking to their family members once a week under tight supervision.
  • According to the leaked documents, the camp has been perpetrating Chinese ideology through the means of the atonement of old dangerous ideology, strict routines, inhuman behaviours, et al.
  • The Xinjiang Re-education Camps, officially called Vocational Education and Training Centers by the government of the People’s Republic of China, are concentration camps that have been operated by the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regional government for the purpose of interning Uyghur Muslims since 2014. The New York Times stated the leak suggests discontent inside the Communist Party relating to the crackdown in Xinjiang. The anonymous government official that leaked the documents did so with the intent that the disclosure “would prevent party leaders, including Mr. Xi, from escaping culpability for the mass detentions”. Read More