China’s multifaceted intelligence operations and India’s counter-attack

Brigadier (Retd.) Hemant Mahajan

 How do the Chinese intelligence agencies conduct nefarious activities in India ? How successful have they been in their activities ? How should we protect our country and ourselves from them ? How can this help keep the country safe ?

We will learn about such aspects from this article.

India must give a befitting reply to China’s multifaceted intelligence operations

China’s intelligence operations are multifaceted. Therefore, if you want to succeed against them, you have to put in a lot of effort. China has not yet vacated Ladakh and is unlikely to do so. The number of people getting sick and dying from Chinese coronavirus is increasing in India. This biological invasion of China has caused huge damage to the Indian economy. We have to hold China accountable for this. However, some Indians are still not very angry at China. They think that they cannot survive without cheap Chinese goods; however, we also need a multipronged counter-attack on China; otherwise, we will have a hard time counteract China.

China’s Military Intelligence Service, the Military Secret Service

We know about Pakistan’s ISI. How do the agents of this organisation carry out bomb blasts in the country, How do they send terrorists, How do they seduce the youth and turn them into terrorists, How do they create networks in our country. Of course, we know about all these aspects. In comparison, we know very little about China’s MSS (Military Secret Service). What are the activities of this Chinese organisation ? Maoism is widespread in Central India. This is a covert war conducted by China. As you may know, in 2004, Naxals and all like-minded organisations came together and formed the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The Maoists hurt the country to the tune of thousands of crores of Rupees every year, collect crores of Rupees in ransom. Every year, 400 to 500 Indians are killed in their attacks. Despite this, some political parties are not ready to speak against China. This is unfortunate !

Spying through the Chinese Study Centers must be stopped immediately

China tries to keep an eye on us through its neighbours. China has set up Study Centres such as or ‘Confucius Centres’ in Nepal and Myanmar. Some of our universities also have such centres. No one should object if they are imparting knowledge on the Chinese language, Chinese culture or China through these centres. However, they do less of these and more of spying against India, according to our intelligence services. Therefore, such centres should certainly be closed.

Students and professors face the risk of becoming urban Naxals through the Chinese Study Centres

China has tried to infiltrate our universities. In my opinion, they have signed an agreement with 55 universities where Chinese Study Centres will be opened. These centres should not be allowed to run at all. Such centres were set up in Australia, which had a very bad experience. The Chinese tried to change Australia’s policy decisions. They tried to bully the universities, bring some professors onto their pay-roll, and tried to get some politicians on their side. Of course, they were caught red-handed in Australia. Australia is an advanced country and its intelligence systems are vigilant. Such untoward activities can happen in India; therefore, the Chinese Study Centres should be closed. Otherwise, they will try to create love for urban leftist organisations among our college youth, professors and turn them into ‘Urban Naxals’. We must thwart such efforts. If we want to learn Chinese, we can call experts from Hong Kong or Taiwan to teach it.

China’s attempt to keep an eye on India’s neighbours

China supplies weapons to our neighbouring countries, which are not trained to use the weapons. Then, Chinese military officers, their sailors, pilots go to these countries and impart training in handling these weapons, and from there, they keep an eye on India. As an example, recently, China leased two submarines to Bangladesh, which could not be operated by Bangladeshi Navy. Therefore, Chinese sailors and Navy personnel went to teach them. From this vantage point, they are keeping an eye on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the lower part of Bangladesh. In addition, China has set up some observation centres. Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port, Bangladesh’s Chittagong Port are all under Chinese control, while Myanmar’s Sittwe Port is under Chinese control. From there, Chinese officials try to keep an eye on India. We can attack these Ports during a war; however, in times of peace, they are dangerous for us.

Today, Pakistan has a large number of Chinese troops and spies. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor runs from the Gwadar Port through Balochistan, Sindh, Punjab and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to the Chinese province of Xinjiang. There are 2 divisions – 20,000 to 25,000 Chinese troops deployed to protect this route. This Chinese Army tries to spy against India. China has also deployed a large number of spies to protect the Gwadar Port. In addition, Pakistan has deployed 2-3 divisions to protect the Corridor.

India’s efforts to counter Chinese espionage

If China is watching us from our neigh-bouring countries, what should we do ? Of course, we should also plant our spies in the ports mentioned above. As a result, we can keep an eye on China’s movements. In addition, we should build Rs. 500 crore worth of transport infrastructure in the Maldives. China’s oil trade passes through the Maldives, our Lakshadweep and the Minicoy Islands. This allows us to monitor China’s movements from there. Not only this, but the trade route goes from the last tip of our Andaman-Nicobar Islands to the sea of Malacca Strait. Even there, we can keep an eye on them.

As announced by our Prime Minister on 15th August, India will build a transit port in Greater Nicobar, which is our last island. When ships come from the deep sea, VLCC (Very Large Crude Carriers) ships are used there. They range in size from 11/2 lakh to 2 lakh tonnes. It is not possible for such large ships to dock in a port in another country. Therefore, the material in such large ships is shifted to medium-sized vessels. We are going to build such a hub on the Campbell Bay, the island below Great Nicobar. Our Navy, Air Force, airports, huge Army are based there. So from this area, we can keep an eye on China. We can also attack them in times of war. Just as China gives its weapons and plants its spies, so should we by giving arms to Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Thus, by staying in these countries, we can keep an eye on China and anti-India activities.

The best solution is to not use Chinese goods to protect against Chinese spying

China’s MSS is different from other intelligence agencies. The MSS uses technology progressively more. Even today, 30-40% of the smartphones owned by Indians may be Chinese-made, and the number of Chinese spare parts in India-made smartphones may be high. We buy Chinese laptops, mobiles, electronic products and make room for a Chinese spy in our own house with our own money. Thus, China can monitor our movements and financial transactions. They can secretly operate our cameras. They can also steal information from our laptops or mobiles. China has carried out more than 40,000 cyber attacks on Indian institutions last year. Therefore, China has been stealing information from Indians with the help of technology for many years. There is only one way to prevent it 100%, and that is to avoid using Chinese products.

How to protect against China’s cyber attacks ?

China seeks to extract information through hacking. The only solution for us is to protect with a firewall. We have our Government’s ‘Network Base System’. There are thousands of networks like that of the Reserve Bank, Indian Railways, which work for different organisations. To prevent these systems from being hacked, we have a National Security Advisor, under whom the NTRO is working to fully protect our ‘Network Base Systems’ and prevent any intrusion into our systems. NTRO studies other Government agencies and explains what is lacking in their ‘Network Base Systems’. Therefore, no matter where you are in any organisation, examine your organisation’s strong points and weak points. They offer several methods to protect our systems, including providing us with several firewalls. If you want to protect your personal system, you need an anti-virus on your computer. Computers that use the Internet should be backed up to a different place without having to keep important information on it. Our defense system is very good; however, in cyber warfare, new research is being conducted every day. Therefore, NTRO’s subsidiary – CERT (Cyber Emergency Response Team) monitors this. Just as we have a QRT (Quick Reaction Team) to counter a terrorist attack, the CERT helps us during cyber-attacks. Their helpline is available all 24-hours. Those who have a ‘Network Base System’ should have the contact number of this helpline. When it comes to cyber-attacks on your system, seek the help of CERT immediately. Do not use any Chinese hardware, software or Apps.

There are limits to spying through satellites

In addition, China monitors us with the help of satellites. China cannot keep a watch everywhere because this may need an estimated 20 to 25 satellites to monitor everything belonging to us. Therefore, China tries to keep an eye on places like India’s missile launching stations. China also tries to keep an eye on mobiles and telephones manufactured by it. Therefore, speak on your mobiles as less as possible. There must be some defence system on your mobiles. This type of defence is used by our military. The Police may be using it too.

Spying for the homeland is mandatory for Chinese citizens

China has enacted a law that makes it obligatory for every citizen to spy for their country, meaning China can order any citizen to spy for the country. For example, every year, 4-5 crore Chinese tourists go to different countries. They work as spies.

Today, millions of Chinese students are studying in different countries, they are also spying.

Similarly, millions of Chinese have migrated to other countries. Wherever they are, they try to extract some information for China. China’s focus is more on our technology institutions than our social aspects; for example ISRO, world-class IITs, etc. Chinese students at these places steal our research. Therefore, Chinese students should not be admitted to the world-renowned institutes we have.

Many Chinese traders travel to different countries. When they come to India, they try to indulge in undesirable activities here too. As it is, India’s industries are not world-class; however, it is said that wherever there is world-class technology, China has tried to steal it.

China’s fighter jets are based on the technology of Russian-made aircrafts. China used templates to steal Russian aircrafts, cut them down, reverse-engineer them and build aircraft like the JF10. The same thing happened with respect to many products, including missiles. China helped Pakistan steal the technology to prepare an atomic bomb.

‘Honey-traps’ used by China for espionage

China also uses honey-traps. What is a Honey-trap ? China uses women to try and steal information from important officials, rulers or military officials.

– Brigadier (Retd.) Hemant Mahajan, Pune, Maharashtra.

China has been stealing information from Indians with the help of technology for many years. Hence, avoid using Chinese products !