Considerations about the Chinese Intelligence Services (II)

Posted in China , Europe , Asia , United States | 07-Jul-10 | Author: Octavian Dumitrescu

Headquarters of the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing

The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) is the second Chinese intelligence service. It is considered to be a national security organization that supervises all provincial and local police departments. Since it is connected to the administrative-territorial structure, MPS’ organizational structure is probably adapted to the administrative-territorial structure of the country, with appropriate central decision structures. Similar to any national security service, MPS has important informational responsibilities, coordinated with MSS, which mainly involve the dissidents and foreigners from China. This mission coincides with MSS and many analysts consider that MPS operates according to MSS orders but in fact, it brings disagreement and competition between the two agencies. Similar to the other Chinese intelligence service, MPS has double subordination: the State Council (representing the executive power) and the Central Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (party structure).

The Chinese domestic intelligence and security organizations are based on working units of the Chinese citizens, in accordance with where they live and work. According to STRATFOR, this organization is used by the Communist Party in order to promote its policies and also to monitor all the Chinese citizens. Each unit is led by party members and it usually has three sections: personnel, administrative and security which work closely with MPS and MSS. The files can be used only by the members of the unit and they include varied information ranging from the family history to correctness. As a member of a working unit, any Chinese citizen can be recruited to do anything in the name of the state, including reports about other Chinese citizens or foreigners from China. As for the foreigners, they can be even monitored with special equipment of the Chinese intelligence services. There are hotels owned and led by MPS or People’s Liberation Army (PLA). It seems that MSS has the authority of leading all informative operations. According to the standard operating procedures, the Military Police and MPS need to consult MSS before carrying out any operation and local bureaus of MPS are responsible for public security.

MPS has the tendency of recruiting many agents with limited skills, who are not trained for the operational environment and for responsibilities in collecting intelligence. Many agents are frequently assigned for the same target and talk about each other as well as about their target. This allows MPS to compare and analyze several reports in order to obtain the desired information. One of the major components of MPS is the Domestic Security Department which deals with domestic espionage. It uses a huge network of informers, many of which are assigned for informational operations in order to obtain data about criminal investigations though they are extremely badly paid.

At the same time, MPS occasionally recruits trained informers and they are approached differently. They are often taken out their native provinces in order to transmit specific information, dealing only with a specific type of intelligence and receiving financial and technical support. There are times when certain agents, like the high members of dissident groups, are arrested and forced to cooperate. In almost all the cases, there are all the necessary means for a high level of operational security during missions.

According to STRATFOR experts, the Chinese intelligence operations are successful at a local and provincial level, but not at a national level. Many groups of dissidents are penetrated and sometimes destroyed as long as they operate at a local level. The flow of information between provinces and from provinces to Beijing is extremely difficult. Nevertheless, if Beijing makes a special request, the answer is always prompt. There are also problems when dealing with information about democratic or religious activists, especially foreigners. The problems are caused by the parallel reports – the information needs to be reported to the Communist Party before being submitted to governmental organizations, according to the requirement that the party needs to be informed in order to be in control. However, local party structures have difficulties in reporting to higher levels and the party and governmental bureaucracy refuse to cooperate. In fact, these malfunctions represent the best aspect to be exploited in the Chinese intelligence system.

MPS usually uses a series of technical and human means to supervise foreigners. The increasing number of foreigners in China and Beijing’s fears of foreign influence determine enhanced surveillance operations. MPS is engaged in a high number of human mobile surveillance activities. Many foreigners, especially journalists and businessmen said that they have been supervised during their daily activities. Surveillance is easily detectable because the government wants its targets to know that they are supervised in order to intimidate them. Moreover, due to the high number of foreigners that require an equally high number of agents – most of whom are not trained; officers need to be appointed for each activity.

The Ministry of Public Security is China’s second intelligence service. Together with the Ministry of State Security, it provides to the Communist Party and the local and central governmental organizations, intelligence and informational products specific to the political system from China and contributes to the domestic and foreign security of the state. We can say that the two intelligence services, supported by the significant contribution of the military intelligence service – which will be presented below – bring important benefits to China in order to support its economic development and achieve its geopolitical and geostartegic interests.

The Military Intelligence Department (MID) represents the Chinese military structure specialized in the collection, processing and dissemination of data, information and informational products that refer to the military aspects of security. This intelligence structure is known as the Second Intelligence Department of People’s liberation Army (PLA), specialized in tactical military information. Its second priority is the collection of information about foreign technologies which could contribute to the better development of China’s military capabilities.

As illustrated in the chart below, MID subordinates directly to the General Staff but also to other structures. In our opinion, this means that it is not directly influenced by the Chinese political factor, or at least the influence is more reduced than with the MSS and MPS. However, it does not mean that MID is out of the party’s control.

According to STRATFOR, much of the information gathered by MID comes from China’s frontier regions, especially from the border with countries from the south-east of Asia like Vietnam. It is known that PLA sends reconnaissance patrols at the frontier and across the border, and they recruit many residents of the neighboring countries. Most of the information is collected by PLA reconnaissance units and they include common military information (fighting orders, doctrines, geography, targets, strategic intentions and counterintelligence). Every military region has its own reconnaissance units as well as a regional intelligence center in order to analyze and disseminate the collected intelligence. At a central level, MID has a reconnaissance bureau which coordinates the flow of information from every military region.

The structural components of MID are illustrated in the chart annexed below. The responsibilities of these components are the following:

The First Bureau of MID deals with military human intelligence (HUMINT) and focuses mainly on Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. Its priority is to collect technological intelligence in order to improve China’s military capabilities as well as to find clients and businessmen for China’s export of weapons, thus concealing the involvement of PLA into the trade. The operational security of the transactions can be very low because many of them are uncovered. China explains these commercial operations with possible advantages that could support other military operations.

The Second Bureau coordinates the informational flow from the specialized units of the Chinese military regions.

The Third Bureau comprises Chinese military attachés that operate in Chinese embassies abroad. They are accepted as open sources for the collection of intelligence. Some Chinese military attachés have been involved in undercover intelligence operations or in other operations of the Chinese citizens that live in the US and operate in the illegal export of American military technology.

The Forth, Fifth and Sixth Bureaus operate analyses of different parts of the world and another bureau from MID disseminates the intelligence to military offices and China’s Central Military Commission. Unlike the western intelligence services, MID is known to give great importance to intelligence obtained from open sources.

The Seventh Bureau deals with science and technology. “Cyber intelligence operations” are planned and carried out by six scientific research governmental institutions, two computer centers and entire legions of patriot hackers. The bureau includes companies that produce electronic equipment – computers, satellites, surveillance equipment and others – meant to be used in espionage and provide technical support.

It is obvious that MID is one of the basic components of the Chinese intelligence system. It provides support for the operations of the Chinese army but also for the political system of the country. There are other important structures subordinated to MID that contribute to the informational support of the army and of the country. According to the source mentioned above, some of these structures are: the Institute for International Strategic Studies and the Institute for International relations, two Chinese prestigious and efficient academic institutions that complete the intelligence services.

Together with the basic components of the system, MID also produces data and information that serve China’s geopolitical and geostrategic development as well as the domestic and foreign interests of the country. There are other departments of the army that contribute to the intelligence system and we will briefly present them below:

One of the extended and powerful components of PLA, which is also a part of the Chinese Communist Party is the General Political Department (GPD), subordinated directly to the Central Military Commission. It infiltrates agents at all the levels of the military organization in order to monitor military structures and provide ideological influence for the armed forces. We need to underline the fact that the Military Intelligence Department, with its well-trained intelligence agents, can easily threaten any regime, especially the control of the Communist Party over the military organization. Therefore, it needs proper monitoring at all times. At the same time, GDP operates as a counterintelligence structure, by supervising the counterintelligence operations that are carried out within its counterespionage department.

The Third Department of the General Staff/PLA is responsible for monitoring the telecommunications of foreign armies and producing finished intelligence based on the military information collected. The monitoring system of the telecommunications (SIGINT) includes several dozens of ground stations, six ships, truck–mounted systems and air-systems that are served by approximately 20,000 people. As indicated in the chart with the Chinese military intelligence services, the Third Department (SIGINT) is indirectly controlled by the Communist Party through the General Staff. The Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China can not only successfully intercept the radio communications of the enemy but it can also be sure that no wire or wireless contact can take place without being intercepted by these stations. Thus it can efficiently control major military regions, military provincial districts and all the armed groups.

The Fourth Department of the General Staff is responsible for electronic countermeasures and radar. It has an electronic intelligence (ELINT) portfolio within SIGINT apparatus (25 receivers, including airborne). This department collects and maintains data referring to radio signals and creates specific data bases.

This was the presentation of the most important military structures of the People’s Liberation Army, which are also part of the Chinese intelligence system. The army is supported by a series of institutions that at first sight have nothing in common with espionage but which contribute significantly to the collection of information in the environments where they operate. One of these institutions is the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, which is separated from PLA but makes direct recommendations to the Communist Party about research and planning in the development of military technologies. It also cooperates with MSS and MID in order to obtain intelligence, especially classified military and technological data. The scientists of this institution are frequently involved in the collection of intelligence from open sources, especially when they attend scientific or academic activities abroad.

In conclusion, we can say that China remains an important player within global espionage in order to achieve its geopolitical and geostrategic objectives and accomplish its economic and military interests in Central Asia and the Far East but also on other continents, especially Europe and America. China will probably promote a long-term intelligence strategy that could be maintained within the current limits. Nevertheless, due to new global security, economic, technological and miscellaneous characteristics, it will be able to adapt its strategy to the new conditions and challenges. The human, material and financial resources of this country, together with the specific characteristics of the Chinese population and its availability to make all necessary efforts, support this process more than in any other country of the world.