June 6, 2017

Chinese Intelligence Activities in Australia

"Agents of Influence" on a mass scale? On 24 April 2008 Chinese "diplomats" organised and payed travel costs of at least 10,000 pro-Beijing supporters (Chinese students). The students travelled 100s kms to Canberra (Australia's capital) to protect a Chinese foreign policy goal. 


China’s Military-PLA Intelligence and also Civilian Intelligence (Ministry of State Security (MSS)) are a threat to the security of Australia. This includes human intelligence (HUMINT) Case Officers who direct, or at least debrief, some in categories (below) who are living in Australia or travelling through. Case Officers are often Chinese "diplomats" or defence attaches or other authority figures, like Chinese professors or wealthy Chinese business figures.

Case Officers may direct and/or debrief ethnic Chinese:

-  students (especially post-graduate level working in "dual-use" high tech areas)
-  academics, scientists (PhD on up) especially in high tech or reporting on politics.
-  engineers, business people (high-tech, military, economic and political reporting)
-  journalists (usually official Chinese news agencies) also useful for influence spreading
-  pro-China Australian citizens (including some (usually ALP) politicians)

China based Chinese officials may do the directing/debriefing of the Australia based categories by phone, email, snail-mail, OR wait till these categories living in Australia return to or vist China (including Australian politicians' on China financed study tours).

Intelligence is often collected in fragments (ie. bit by bit collection, all sources and methods) from little agents. This is in contrast to the popular image of very high-up Russia style moles or agents (eg. the Cambridge Five)

Another Chinese intelligence activity is nurturing pro-Beijing political and/or economic influence via "Agents of Influence". More specifically China may influence Australian business deals or Australian politics. In this regard ALP politicians come up way too often - through fake comradely behavior often accompanied with a bit, but not too much, cash (recent cash for comments concern?)

This is not to say that other major countries don't operate or spread economic and political influence in Australia through intelligence ways.

Like many other authoritarian intelligence agencies active in Australia Chinese agencies probably spend most of their time spying on and pressuring their own nationals:

-  security monitoring by Chinese diplomats (helped by informants) of any/all of the Chinese groups
    while in Australia. This is monitoring particulary of Chinese deemed to be involved in:

   :  overseas activities for Uyghur/Uighur/East Turkestan/Xinjiang Independence causes. Some
      in China are involved in Islamic terrorism. See February 2017 report of Uighur militant
      jihadists from China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region fighting for various causes in Syria
      = see The Diplomat's “How Serious Is the Islamic State Threat to China?” of March 14, 2017

   :  anti-Beijing Government causes
   :  anti-Communist
   ;  pro-democracy
   :  pro-Tibet independence
   :  Falun Gong and 
   :  Christian influences some reacting against oppression of churches in China).


On 24 April 2008 Chinese "diplomats" organised and payed costs of at least 10,000 pro-Beijing supporters (Chinese students) (see photo above). The students travelled 100's of kms, from Sydney and Melbourne to Canberra (Australia's capital). 

What followed was a 2 hour "spontaneous" loyalty demonstration for the 2008 Beijing Olympics Torch Relay, in Canberra's Parliamentary Triangle. Pro-Tibet democracy protesters were crowded out and intimidated as were Australian police. The occasion was the pro-Beijing Olympics (2008) Torch Relay. Usually Australian Federal Government controlled the Parliamentary Federal Triangle.

Just imagine if the Australian Embassy tried to organise a similar "spontaneous" protest in Beijing? Would a mob burn down the Australian Embassy? 


A major Sydney Morning Herald article of 7 May 2009, concerned how Chinese interests seemed to influence an Australian Defence Minister. Defence 'rejected' minister spy link concerns. The US, fearing the security of its own shared secrets with Australia, was most probably very unhappy how Rudd's Labor Government initially handled the matter.



MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

the nice thing about your blog is no Chinese trolls until now.

In "DER SPIEGEL" it is quite useless to write a critical comment about China. Any thread concerning China will be overcrowded by China loving comments stating you are an idiot. So some articles now have no possibility to comment at all. Like the following one about the Israeli Dolphin deal (far to many antisemitic idiots...):


Content: Netanyahu ordered 3 more Dophin-class submarines despite the minister of defense at time Mosche Jaalon was against the deal. Jaalon was a paratrooper and maybe a little bit not so concerned about deterrence and common with AIP usage.

The bad thing about spying is the moral of your own people. In Germany we had the example with the other part spying on us. It would have been far cheaper to invent the required techniques in the German Democratic Republic than to use the overcrowded spying networks. The main problem was the government didn't trust its own people and discouraged its own scientists: "You are to dumb to invent such things!" Some say the GDR went out of business due to too many people did not produce something worth. They just spied.


Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Yeah. As I can (and do) block trolls from having there comments published they soon lose interest.

Also Western defence forces read Submarine Matters, so their "NSAs" (including Israel's) using highly complex "sitemeters" can track back to source any trolls (especially State sponsored trolls).



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

How does Australia ensure to protect the secret information of foreign submarines received in CEP proccess? I am interested in information security system applied for this kind of matters.


Peter Coates said...

Hi S

I don't know and if I did know I really couldn't say.

The Japanese MOD is very likely to have been advised (before, during and aftter the CEP process) in Confidence.



jbmoore said...

I seem to recall the Chinese classified a geological database that was purchased by a Chinese-American geologist after the fact, then jailed the man for violating national security. But, Australian and American databases are still available for sale unless the respective government has classified them. I am sure Chinese intelligence activities such as you have mentioned have only increased.

Anonymous said...

Western powers tend to emphasize military technology and intelligence. That focus did not always bring victory in war. China's approaches to warfare will emphasize not just technology and classical intelligence but also a variety of other policies that may be as effective such as the creation of Confucius Institutes (of the 440+ in existence, some 140+ are located in the US), state sponsored think tanks (some are even located in Washington DC), lobbyism, etc.

Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

Hi Pete,
This link and video may interest you

A Rare Look at the Chinese Navy's Submarines

Here's the Video

Peter Coates said...

Hi jbmoore

China's communist bosses and security do indeed make their own rules, which often seem to be more censorship and human rights repression over intellectuals and minorities.

China extends commecial or State secrecy categories much more widely than what are considered secrets by Western democracies.



Peter Coates said...

Hi KQN [at 1/12/16 8:04 AM]

Funny how Western democracies allow Chinese ideological power projection, via Chinese Confucius Institutes, in Western countries.

China itself bans Western democratic Institues/institutions (eg. humanitarian Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)) setting up shop in Chinese cities.


Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky K.D Chaleunphone

Yes http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a24068/china-submarine-636/ and
https://youtu.be/mWbmFq_EtJY are interesting on China's Russian built Kilo subs.

It is unknown why China is showcasing a Russian made sub while:

- China is delivering 2 Ming-class subs to Bangladesh https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_035_submarine#Foreign_export

- marketing 3 Yuan S20 derivatives to Thailand https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_039A_submarine#Export and

- providing 8 S20s to Pakistan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_039A_submarine#Export



Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky K.D Chaleunphone

Here's another article on Chinese submarine stealth measures https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2016/12/672_219499.html



Anonymous said...

China knows how to play and leverage the weaknesses and advantages of Western political systems very well. The reverse is likely not true. More than that, the contingent of engineering and science students from China in US universities especially at the graduate and PhD levels is by far the largest. That contingent is even bigger than the US contingent.

Peter Coates said...

Hi KQN [at 6/12/16 5:24 PM]

Australia also has many Chinese graduate students with numbers growing quickly. http://www.afr.com/news/policy/education/the-chinese-student-boom-50000-new-enrolments-in-2016-20160510-goqfkd

The money they bring in is welcome. But the priority given to money over security considerations (access to dual-use (civilian-military) science and technology) needs greater scutiny.


Anonymous said...

Chinese "students" are known to act as agents of diplomats to travel to distant parts of the country that would not be easily accessible by diplomats under regular bilateral diplomatic rules. So, some years ago, I experienced a Chinese student photographing my house in a rural town (about 100 miles from major cities).

In terms or projection of pressure, also Chinese students were travelling almost 100 miles, to attend my wife's medical practice in a rural town, for no obvious pressing medical reasons. Go figure.

Pete said...

Nicholas Eftimiades, published by The Diplomat (paysite) November 28, 2018 has written an interesting article

"Uncovering Chinese Espionage in the US"


"A detailed look into how, why, and where Chinese spies are active in the United States.

"...This report presents initial findings from analysis of 274 documented cases of Chinese worldwide espionage since the year 2000. High-level findings are as follows:

- China has expanded its espionage efforts considerably over the last 20 years.

- Chinese entities conducting espionage include government agencies, the military, state- owned enterprises (SOEs), private companies/individuals, and select universities.

- Nearly half of China’s espionage efforts target U.S. military and space technologies. Almost 25 percent of cases target commercial interests.

- China is unlikely to significantly curb its espionage efforts, as they provide a cost-efficient means to expand the economy, advance research and development, project military power, and meet China’s stated goal to become a world power.

See the WHOLE DIPLOMAT ARTICLE AT https://thediplomat.com/2018/11/uncovering-chinese-espionage-in-the-us/

Pete said...

"The Impact of Chinese Espionage on the United States" is yet another good Diplomat (paysite) article by Nicholas Eftimiades, December 4 2018 https://thediplomat.com/2018/12/the-impact-of-chinese-espionage-on-the-united-states/

"What is the cumulative impact of China’s espionage activities for the United States’ economy, security, and politics?...


China ...is unlikely to curb those efforts as economic and national security related espionage provides a cost efficient means to expand the economy, advance research and development, project military power, and meet China’s goals to become a world power.

The United States has responded to China’s espionage activities with increased law enforcement, foreign policy initiatives, and more recently, trade policy. To date, these responses have proven minimally effective. There is no indication that U.S. actions have deterred, or will deter, China. Additional elements of national power will be necessary to abate China’s global espionage campaign — domestic education campaigns, global media campaigns, increased enforcement, expanded international coordination measures, and leveraging alliances could all be considered.

Nicholas Eftimiades is a lecturer at Penn State University, Homeland Security Program. He recently retired from a 34 year government career that included employment in the CIA, Department of State, and Defense Intelligence Agency. The views in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of the U.S. government." ENDS

Eftimiades links to a rare Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) article "CHINA AND THE AGE OF STRATEGIC RIVALRY Highlights from an Academic Outreach Workshop"
May 2018, about 150 pages https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/csis-scrs/documents/publications/CSIS-Academic-Outreach-China-report-May-2018-en.pdf

which has several references to Chinese intel influence in Australia and NZ.