November 20, 2016

Chinese Intelligence Presence in Australia [New Comment]


China’s Military-PLA Intelligence and also Civilian Intelligence (Ministry of State Security (MSS)) are doing an excellent job in Australia. This includes human intelligence (HUMINT) Case Officers. Such officers direct, or at least debrief, some in the following groups who live in or are travelling through Australia. Such intelligence collection groups might include some Chinese who are:

-  students (especially graduate, post-graduate level working in "dual-use" high tech areas)
-  academics, scientists (PhD on up) especially on high tech.
-  engineers, business people (targets as above)
-  journalists (usually official news agencies) also useful for influence spreading
-  pro-China Australian citizens (including some politicians)
-  "diplomats" and defence attaches (may be involved in directing and debriefing those categories
    above), See article below.
-  Chinese, China based government officials of all types active in directing and/or debriefing
    Chinese (or non-Chinese Aussies?) travellers/residents, who were/are/will be, in Australia.

Intelligence gathering is a standard assumption. Intelligence might more often be collected in fragments (ie. bit by bit collection from all sources and methods). This is in contrast to the popular assumption of fully paid-up, dedicated human agents/moles (often with false identities) in the John le Carré "Soviet bloc tradition". 

Other Chinese activities-objectives may include:

-  spreading pro-Beijing political influence through "Agents of Influence". More specifically China
   may influence Australian politics and perhaps compromise Australian politicians (recent 
   concern?), and

-  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 Uyghur or Uighur ("East Turkestan) Xinjiang Independence Groups (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
      = 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
   :  Falun Gong or
   :  some Christian influences).

China is not the only security/influence/intelligence threat to  Australia, of course. 


Regarding Chinese Government special political and intelligence activity in Australia, 2008 to the present. In 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). This was for a 2 hour "spontaneous" loyalty demonstration. Pro-Tibet democracy protesters were crowded out and intimidated as were Australian police. The occasion was the pro-Beijing Olympics (2008) Torch Relay. Location was the usually Australian Federal Government controlled Federal Triangle, Canberra, 24 April 2008. 

Just imagine if the Australian Embassy tried to do the same "support" protest organising in Beijing? Tiananmen Square II? (Photo courtesy Getty images). 


Andrew Greene, for Australia’s government financed news agency ABC Online, reported on 20 November 2016. :

“Chinese spies in Australia on the rise, former diplomat Chen Yonglin says”

Chen Yonglin, the Chinese diplomat who sensationally quit his job [at the Chinese consulate in Sydney Australia, in 2005] more than a decade ago, has broken a lengthy silence to warn of a growing number of spies and agents working for Beijing in Australia.

Key points:

-  Chen Yonglin successfully sought political asylum in Australia after resigning his diplomat role
-  Warned more that 1,000 Chinese spies in Australia
-  Says "majority of Chinese community representatives" work for [Chinese] Government
-  In 2005, Mr Chen caused global headlines when he claimed China was operating a network of
   "over 1,000 Chinese secret agents and informants in Australia".

The former diplomat, who now works as a businessman, [Chen] has warned the number of secretive Chinese operatives has steadily grown since he stopped working for China's foreign service.

"There should be some increase after over 10 years because China is now the wealthiest government in the world, they should have money, they should be [able] to afford raise a huge number of spies here," he told ABC News.

He stressed the increase was mainly in casual informants who provided crucial pieces of intelligence to Beijing.

Since successfully seeking political asylum in Australia, Mr Chen said he had become growingly concerned about Beijing's influence in his new home.

He believes that of particular concern is last year's decision to approve a 99-year lease of the Port of Darwin to Chinese-owned company Landbridge [presumably this will be a great job opening for Chinese Military Intelligence, performing under cover in Darwin. Great job :]

"I think it's very stupid. It's common sense that Darwin Port is strategically important and against the northern invasion," he said.

Mr Chen has also hit out at activists who have recently taken to the streets to show support for China's military expansion in the South China Sea.

"A majority of Chinese community representatives work for the Chinese Government," he said. ENDS


-  My On Line Opinion article of 5 May 2008 Embracing China involves risks for Australia about
   possible Chinese intelligence involvement in Chinese student mobilisation in Australia. In it I give
   some emphasis to Chen Yonglin's revelations about Chinese intelligence activities.


-  A major Sydney Morning Herald article of 7 May 2009, Defence 'rejected' minister spy link



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 and 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

- marketing 3 Yuan S20 derivatives to Thailand and

- providing 8 S20s to Pakistan



Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky K.D Chaleunphone

Here's another article on Chinese submarine stealth measures



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.

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.