Archive for the ‘China’s subversion of forein governments’ category

Expect America’s Tensions with China and Russia to Rise in 2018

December 30, 2017

Expect America’s Tensions with China and Russia to Rise in 2018, Gatestone Institute, John Bolton, December 30, 2017

Yesterday’s 2017 review and forecast for 2018 focused on the most urgent challenges the Trump administration faces: the volatile Middle East, international terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Today, we examine the strategic threats posed by China and Russia and one of President Trump’s continuing priorities: preserving and enhancing American sovereignty.

Russia and China will be among the Trump administration’s key strategic challenges in the coming year. Photo: Wikipedia.

China has likely been Trump’s biggest personal disappointment in 2017, one where he thought that major improvements might be possible, especially in international trade. Despite significant investments of time and attention to President Xi Jinping, now empowered in ways unprecedented since Mao Tse Tung, very little has changed in Beijing’s foreign policy, bilaterally or globally. There is no evidence of improved trade relations, or any effort by China to curb its abuses, such as pirating intellectual property, government discrimination against foreign traders and investors, or biased judicial fora.

Even worse, Beijing’s belligerent steps to annex the South China Sea and threaten Japan and Taiwan in the East China Sea continued unabated, or even accelerated in 2017. In all probability, therefore, 2018 will see tensions ratchet up in these critical regions, as America (and hopefully others) defend against thinly veiled Chinese military aggression. Japan in particular has reached its limits as China has increased its capabilities across the full military spectrum, including at sea, in space and cyberwarfare.

Taiwan is not far behind. Even South Korea’s Moon Jae In may be growing disenchanted with Beijing as it seeks to constrain Seoul’s strategic defense options. And make no mistake, what China is doing in its littoral periphery is closely watched in India, where the rise of Chinese economic and military power is increasingly worrying. The Trump administration should closely monitor all these flash points along China’s frontiers, any one of which could provoke a major military confrontation, if not next year, soon thereafter.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is where China has most disappointed the White House. Xi Jinping has played the United States just like his predecessors, promising increased pressure on Pyongyang but not delivering nearly enough. The most encouraging news came as 2017 ended, in the revelation that Chinese and American military officers have discussed possible scenarios involving regime collapse or military conflict in North Korea. While unclear how far these talks have progressed, the mere fact that China is engaging in them shows a new level of awareness of how explosive the situation is. So, 2018 will be critical not only regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons threat but also whether Sino-American relations improve or take a distinct turn for the worse.

On Russia, the president has not given up on Vladimir Putin, at least not yet, but that may well come in 2018. Putin is an old-school, hard-edged, national interest-centered Russian leader, defending the “rodina” (the motherland), not a discredited ideology. Confronted with U.S. strength, Putin knows when to pull back, and he is, when it suits him, even capable of making and keeping deals. But there is no point in romanticizing the Moscow-Washington dynamic. It must be based not on personal relationships but on realpolitik.

No better proof exists than Russia’s reaction to Trump’s recent decision to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine, which is now a war zone entirely because of Russian aggression. To hear Moscow react to Trump’s weapons decision, however, one would think he was responsible for increased hostilities. President Obama should have acted at the first evidence of Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine, and even Trump’s aid is a small step compared to President Bush’s 2008 proposal to move Kiev quickly toward NATO membership. Nonetheless, every independent state that emerged from the Soviet Union, NATO member or not, is obsessed with how America handles Ukraine. They should be, because the Kremlin’s calculus about their futures will almost certainly turn on whether Trump draws a line on Moscow’s adventurism in Ukraine.

Just as troubling as Russia’s menace in Eastern and Central Europe is its reemergence as a great power player in the Middle East. Just weeks ago, the Russian Duma ratified an agreement greatly expanding Russia’s naval station at Tartus, Syria. In 2015, Obama stood dumbfounded as Russia built a significant air base in nearby Latakia, thus cementing the intrusion of Russia’s military presence in the Middle East to an extent not seen since Anwar Sadat expelled Soviet military advisers and brought Egypt into the Western orbit in the 1970s.

This expansion constitutes a significant power projection for the Kremlin. Indeed, it seems clear that Russia’s support (even more than Iran’s) for Syria’s Assad regime has kept the dictatorship in power. Russia’s assertiveness in 2017 also empowered Tehran, even as the ISIS caliphate was destroyed, to create an arc of Shia military power from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, linking up with Hezbollah in Lebanon. This Russian-Iranian axis should rank alongside Iran’s nuclear-weapons program on America’s list of threats emanating from the Middle East.

Finally, the pure folly of both the U.N. Security Council and the General Assembly crossing the United States on the Jerusalem embassy decision was a mistake of potentially devastating consequences for the United Nations. Combined with the International Criminal Court’s November decision to move toward investigating alleged U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, there is now ample space for the White House to expand on the president’s focus on protecting American sovereignty.

Trump’s first insight into the rage for “global governance” among the high minded came on trade issues, and his concern for the World Trade Organization’s adjudication mechanism. These are substantial and legitimate, but the broader issues of “who governs” and the challenges to constitutional, representative government from international bodies and treaties that expressly seek to advance global governing institutions are real and growing. America has long been an obstacle to these efforts, due to our quaint attachment to our Constitution and the exceptionalist notion that we don’t need international treaties to “improve” it.

No recent president has made the sovereignty point as strongly as Trump, and the United Nations and International Criminal Court actions in 2017 now afford him a chance to make decisive political and financial responses in 2018. If 2017 was a tumultuous year internationally, 2018 could make it seem calm by comparison.

John R. Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and as undersecretary for arms control and international security affairs at the U.S. Department of State under President George W. Bush. He is now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

This article first appeared in The Hill and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.

Dissident Reveals Secret Chinese Intelligence Plans Targeting U.S.

October 9, 2017

Dissident Reveals Secret Chinese Intelligence Plans Targeting U.S., Washington Free Beacon, , October 9, 2017

(Please see also, China’s ‘Magic Weapons’: Influence Operations Subverting Foreign Governments. — DM)

Guo Wengui / Ellen Dubin Photography

China earlier this year ordered the dispatch of 27 intelligence officers to the United States as part of a larger campaign of subversion, according to a leading Chinese dissident.

Guo Wengui, a billionaire real estate mogul, disclosed what he said was an internal Communist Party document authorizing the Ministry of State Security to send the spies, described as “people’s police officers.”

Guo, who is being sought by the Chinese government in a bid to silence his disclosures of high-level corruption and intelligence activity, denounced the Beijing regime as corrupt and called for a “revolution” to reform the system.

“My only single goal that I set myself to try to achieve is to change China,” Guo said through an interpreter during a National Press Club meeting attended by news reporters and supporters of the exiled dissident.

“What they’re doing is against humanity,” he said. “What the U.S. ought to do is take action, instead of just talking to the Chinese kleptocracy.”

Guo last month requested political asylum in the United States in the face of a high-level Chinese government effort to force the United States to return him to China. China has charged him with several crimes. Guo has denied the charges.

Guo earlier charged that senior Chinese leader Wang Qishan, who controls most of China’s finances, is corrupt and has engaged in moving money and documents outside of China. Wang is leading China’s nationwide anti-corruption drive that critics say is cover for efforts by Xi to consolidate power.

The Chinese campaign against Guo has included high-level diplomatic and economic pressure on American government and business leaders to lobby for Guo’s repatriation.

China’s Minister of Public Security, Guo Shengkun, met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday where China’s demands for the return of fugitives was discussed.

A Justice Department spokesman said Sessions raised the issue of a Chinese-origin cyber attack against the Hudson Institute, a think tank that had canceled its plan to hold the press conference for Guo under pressure from China. The Justice spokesman, Wynn Hornbuckle, said China pledged their cooperation in investigating the incident.

Hornbuckle would not say if Guo Wengui was discussed during the law enforcement and cyber security talks.

David Tell, a Hudson spokesman, told the Washington Free Beacon, the denial of service cyber attack was traced by investigators to Shanghai.

According to an email obtained by the Free Beacon, a Hudson employee stated that he was asked to forward a message to institute leaders sent from a Chinese Embassy official on Sept. 29.

Chinese officials, according to the email, “want Hudson to cancel the Guo Wengui event because he is a criminal and tells lies, that China is about to enter a sensitive time with its Party Congress, that hosting him would hurt China-U.S. relations, and that this event would embarrass Hudson Institute and hurt our ties with the Chinese government.”

The intelligence document released Thursday is one of a number sensitive internal reports obtained by Guo who was once close to MSS Vice Minister Ma Jian, who was imprisoned last year on corruption charges, but who Guo has said was repressed politically because of his knowledge of corruption among Chinese leaders.

Guo said he had planned to disclose three internal Chinese government documents during the Hudson event. But instead he burned the documents after the event was canceled.

Guo said he maintains close ties to supporters within the Chinese government and security system and is able to obtain many internal documents.

According to Guo, for simply holding the top-secret document he distributed at the press conference, a person could be jailed in China for three to five years.

The document was issued by the National Security Council, a new Chinese government and Party entity headed by Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

The MSS operatives will work under cover at the Bank of China branch offices and at Chinese diplomatic facilities in the United States.

The document is labeled “top secret” and dated April 27. It was released by Guo at a press conference in Washington during which he appealed for the U.S. government to wake up to the threat posed by China and counter it.

Guo said the authenticity of the document was confirmed by the U.S. government.

The directive to the MSS was formally called “The Request for Instructions on the Working Plan of Secretly Dispatching and 27 People’s Police Officers, He Jianfeng and Others from the Ministry of State Security to the United States on Field Duty in 2017.”

“We approve in principle,” the report says, adding “please carefully organize and implement.”

According to the document the MSS should follow Chinese ideology set out by the late leader Deng Xiaoping, as well as the concepts outlined in speeches by Xi, the current leader.

The document is one of the first internal documents to reveal how China is expanding intelligence activities targeting what it calls “hostile forces” in the United States.

The MSS, according to the report, was told to “go according to the need of the strategic arrangements” of the Communist Party “against overseas hostile forces, strictly abide by our national principles of state security work on the United States, and use the opportunity of the rise of our comprehensive national strength and Sino-U.S. diplomatic relations tending to ease to further expand the scope and depth of the infiltration into the anti-China hostile forces in the United States.”

The MSS agents are to enter the United States secretly in phases and “use the cover of the executives of the state-owned enterprises in the United States, such as the Bank of China (New York) to carry out solid intelligence collection, to incite defection of relevant individuals, and to conduct counter-espionage, etc.”

The spies also were directed to focus on “extraordinarily significant criminal suspects, including Ling Wancheng, Guo Wengui, and Cheng Muyang, etc.”

Ling is the brother of Ling Jihua, a former high-ranking Chinese official who China has accused of illegal activities and who defected to the United States in 2016. Cheng is a real estate mogul in Canada who China also accused of illegal activities.

“If necessary, they should also actively support, cooperate with, and assist the personnel in the United States who conduct the United Front operations, diplomatic operations, and military intelligence operations to carry out related business,” the document states.

United Front work is what the Chinese government calls influence operations aimed at coopting Americans into supporting Beijing’s policies.

The directive urges the spies to “make contributions for further crushing overseas anti-China hostile forces.”

Lastly, MSS officials should seek to strengthen the organization and provide after actions reports to the senior Party organ.

“We have friends all over the world … those who provide the documents are among the most senior people, including the current Politburo standing committee,” Guo said. “My material is real. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be afraid of it.”

Guo said during his press conference that since the April directive, around 50 additional intelligence operatives were sent to the United States.

An FBI spokeswoman had no comment on the document. A Chinese Embassy spokesman did not respond to an email seeking comment.

On Saturday, China’s Public Security Ministry issued a statement denying China was behind the hack of a law firm representing Guo and the Hudson Institute. The ministry also disputed the authenticity of the document.

“An official of the Ministry of Public Security states that, China paid close attention to such allegations and launched immediate investigation,” the statement said. “But no evidence has been found that China and its government have been involved with these incidents.”

The ministry also called the documents revealed by Guo “utterly clumsily forged and full of obvious mistakes.” It did not elaborate but offered to cooperate in a U.S. investigation into the authenticity of the materials and cooperate in the probe of the cyber attacks.

According to Guo, China is engaged in a three-pronged campaign of subversion in the United States he labeled “Blue-Gold-Yellow,” with each color standing for a different line of attack.

Blue represents large-scale Chinese cyber and internet operations while gold represents China’s use of money and financial power. The yellow is part of a plan to use sex to undermine American society.

Another Chinese government subversion program was described by Guo using the code name the “Three Fs.” It involves China’s systematic programs targeting the United States with the goal to weaken the country, throw the country into turmoil and ultimately defeat America.

Asked about the major Communist Party meeting scheduled for later this month, Guo said: “I would like all members of the Chinese Communist Party to wake up and say no to this ruling clique.”

Guo disclosed that he was imprisoned in China after the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square and spent 22 months in prison. Chinese police also shot his brother, who later died.

Since then, he has spent the intervening years as an entrepreneur preparing to expose corrupt Chinese leaders, a process he began in January.

China has retaliated by freezing some $17 billion in assets in China and by imprisoning business associates and relatives of Guo.

Radio France’s Chinese-language radio service reported recently that several Chinese have been harassed by authorities for discussing Guo’s disclosures about Wang’s corruption. The report called the activity “Guo Wengui-phobia.”

Chinese censors have cracked down on people online who used the phrases used by Guo, like “Wang-Seven-Three” and “73” for Wang Qishen. Also a person wearing the t-shirt with the word “all of this is only the beginning”—one of Guo’s catch phrases on social media was detained.

“Those who support Guo Wengui call out ‘put a pot on your head,’ a homophone for ‘support Guo,'” the French report said. “Those who desperately want to catch him want to ‘smash that pot,’ literally meaning ‘smash the pot,’ but the term means ‘to fail.'”

China also recently blocked the messaging app WhatsApp, after China tightened controls on WeChat, Weibo, and Baidu message boards that were sharing posts on Guo.

“Looking at social media, every time Guo Wengui has revealed the secrets of a corrupt official, there’s been a reaction on the streets of Beijing,” the report said. “In restaurants, bars, in the streets and alleyways, people see each other and, smiling, ask, ‘What did he say now?’ It’s become a tacit greeting.”

China’s ‘Magic Weapons’: Influence Operations Subverting Foreign Governments

September 27, 2017

China’s ‘Magic Weapons’: Influence Operations Subverting Foreign Governments, Washington Free Beacon, September 27, 2017

Xi Jinping / Getty Images

Chinese foreign influence operations in New Zealand raise security concerns here about China gaining accessing U.S. secrets. The government there is part of the British-American intelligence alliance known as Five Eyes—that involves the sharing of secrets among the spy services of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

“New Zealand is valuable to China, as well to other states such as Russia, as a soft underbelly to access Five Eyes intelligence,” the report said.

In the United States, China has been engaged in widespread influence operations primarily through the hiring of former government officials to lobby on its behalf. Other methods involve coercing American companies operating in China into influencing the U.S. government in support of China’s policies.


China under supreme leader Xi Jinping is stepping up coordinated intelligence operations aimed at influencing foreign governments into backing Beijing’s anti-democratic goals, according to a new study.

Chinese influence operations involve multiple government and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intelligence organizations that seek to buy, guide, or coerce foreign governments into advancing its agenda, says the study written by New Zealand professor Anne-Marie Brady, a fellow at the Wilson Center.

“Even more than his predecessors, Xi Jinping has led a massive expansion of efforts to shape foreign public opinion in order to influence the decision-making of foreign governments and societies,” the report says.

“China’s foreign influence activities have the potential to undermine the sovereignty and integrity of the political system of targeted states,” the report warns.

Using New Zealand as a case study, the report reveals that Xi recently urged overseas Chinese nationals and ethnic Chinese residents to infiltrate foreign governments.

In New Zealand, several ethnic Chinese politicians have been elected to the parliament of the South Pacific nation, which is a key intelligence ally of the United States.

For example, New Zealand parliamentarian Jian Yang acknowledged recently that he concealed his past relationship with the People’s Liberation Army intelligence unit and membership in the Chinese Communist Party.

“New Zealand, like many other states in the world, is becoming saturated with the PRC’s political influence activities, and due to its pattern of engagement with China and its natural assets, it may even be experiencing more political influence activities than most,” the report says.

Chinese foreign influence operations in New Zealand raise security concerns here about China gaining accessing U.S. secrets. The government there is part of the British-American intelligence alliance known as Five Eyes—that involves the sharing of secrets among the spy services of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

“New Zealand is valuable to China, as well to other states such as Russia, as a soft underbelly to access Five Eyes intelligence,” the report said.

“New Zealand is also a potential strategic site for the PLA navy’s Southern Hemisphere future naval facilities and a future Beidou-2 [navigation satellite system] ground station—there are already several of these in Antarctica.”

Over the past several decades, China has focused on sowing divisions between the government in Wellington and the U.S., its ally. New Zealand has adopted increasingly anti-American policies, beginning in the 1980s when the nation refused to permit nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed warships from making port calls as part of an anti-nuclear policy.

China has targeted New Zealand’s 200,000 ethnic Chinese, part of the country’s population of 4.5 million people.

The report on Beijing influence operations was published as Democrats and most news outlets in the United States remain focused on Russian influence operations, specifically activities during the 2016 presidential election.

By contrast, Chinese influence operations in the United States have received little or no scrutiny from Congress or most news media.

The Chinese activities are based on what Beijing calls “united front” work—strategic influence operations first used in the 1940s by communists who eventually seized power in China.

Xi in September 2014 highlighted the importance of united front work in supporting influence activities around the world, calling them the Party’s “magic weapons” in pursuit of making China the dominant world power.

Concerned over the growing sub rosa intelligence operations in nearby Australia, the government there had drafted new laws designed to curb Chinese political and economic influence activities, including a ban on all foreign political donations.

In the United States, China has been engaged in widespread influence operations primarily through the hiring of former government officials to lobby on its behalf. Other methods involve coercing American companies operating in China into influencing the U.S. government in support of China’s policies.

During the 1990s, Chinese agents were caught by the FBI funding the reelection campaign of President Bill Clinton.

However, for the past 20 years, the FBI, which is responsible for countering foreign influence operations has produced few arrests or prosecutions related to Beijing influence operations.

Dissident Chinese businessman Guo Wengui revealed recently that Chinese companies are used often by the Ministry of State Security (MSS), the civilian spy service, to buy off American politicians and organizations in order to promote China’s foreign and economic policies.

The influence operations are carried out by Party units identified in the report as the United Front Work Department, the Central Propaganda Department, the International Liaison Department, the All-China Federation of Overseas Chinese, and the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

All are key players in covert Chinese foreign and defense affairs.

“United front activities incorporate working with groups and prominent individuals in society; information management and propaganda; and it has also frequently been a means of facilitating espionage,” the report says.

A key ploy of Chinese influence activities is creating networks of “friends of China” overseas who are called on to influence host governments and media.

Chinese military intelligence, known as the PLA Second Department, also has worked closely in the past with the International Liaison Department and United Front Work Department in backing revolutionaries in Southeast Asia and spying.

United Front operatives frequently operate under cover as Chinese diplomats who target foreign politicians, business people, and journalists.

Front groups include Chinese community associations and student groups along with organizations funded by China engaged in Chinese language, media, and cultural activities.

Another key influence tool is the numerous Beijing-funded Confucius Institutes that are located on many U.S. and foreign college campuses.

“CCP united front officials and their agents try to develop relationships with foreign and overseas Chinese personages (the more influential the better) to influence, subvert, and if necessary, bypass the policies of their governments and promote the interests of the CCP globally,” the report says.

The Party operatives attempt to guide the activities of front groups, oversea agents, and supporters by appealing to nationalist sentiment, such as urging support for the Chinese motherland, the Chinese race, and the Chinese ethnic population within their countries.

“The goal of successful overseas Chinese work is to get the community to proactively and even better, spontaneously, engage in activities which enhance China’s foreign policy agenda,” the report said.

China has been less successful in targeting overseas Chinese groups opposed to the communist regime, including pro-democracy dissidents, the Buddhist-oriented group Falun Gong, those promoting Taiwan independence, independent Chinese religious groups, and Tibetans and Uighurs seeking independence.

However, all those groups are major targets of infiltration by Party and intelligence agents who seek to divide or subvert the groups.

Recruiting ethnic Chinese as spies is also part of the influence operations, led by the MSS, Ministry of Public Security, PLA Joint Staff Headquarters’ Third Department, Xinhua News Service, the United Front Work Department, and International Liaison Department.

The report said a former Chinese spy revealed in 2014 that the PLA Third Department utilizes a network of some 200,000 agents around the world.

Guo, the dissident Chinese businessman, has stated that China dispatched between 25,000 and 40,000 agents to the United States, and increased the aggressiveness of their operations beginning in 2012.

“Political influence activities in the Xi era draw heavily on the approaches set in the Mao years and the policies of Deng, Jiang, and Hu, but take them to a new level of ambition,” the report said. “This reflects both the growing confidence of the Xi government in China’s international influence, as well as the high stakes strategy he is pursuing to maintain his regime through boosting economic growth and tightening control of information.”

The 57-page report, “Magic Weapons: China’s political influence activities under Xi Jinping,” was presented Sept. 18 at a conference on the corrosion of democracy under China’s international influence.

In New Zealand, the report identifies three ethnic Chinese politicians who it says maintain ties to Chinese united front groups and the Chinese embassy, including Yang, Raymond Huo, and Kenneth Wang, the descendent of a Communist Party revolutionary who was a member of parliament from 2004 to 2005.

The report said Yang “worked for fifteen years in China’s military intelligence sector,” information that was concealed on his New Zealand permanent residency application and job applications in New Zealand.

“The PLA would not have allowed anyone with Yang Jian’s military intelligence background to go overseas to study—unless they had official permission,” the report said.

As a member of parliament, Yang has been a “central figure promoting and helping to shape the New Zealand National government’s China strategy and been responsible for their engagement with the New Zealand Chinese community,” the report said.

Yang said earlier this month he is not a spy and has never been a spy but acknowledged being a part of the Chinese military.

Peter Mattis, an expert on Chinese intelligence said Yang’s statements at a press conference raised more questions than it answered.

“He claimed to have taught at Luoyang, but he told Chinese media in 2013 that he studied at the school run by China’s signals intelligence agency and earned a master’s degree,” Mattis said.

“New Zealand illustrates the challenge of dealing with Chinese influence operations once Beijing affects the political core,” he said. “The potential damage is unknown. Addressing the questions that need answering requires a much higher degree of political will than it might otherwise.”

Mattis said whenever Chinese influence activities are a focus of security concerns accusations of racism and ignorance of China are raised.

“The Yang case is no different. Brady’s paper shows the problem is neither racism, nor ignorance, but how the Chinese Communist Party operates abroad,” he said.

Huo, a member of the New Zealand parliament from 2008 to 2014, and again in 2017, has worked closely with Chinese united front groups, the report said.

Huo has maintained close contacts with China’s Zhi Gong Party, one of eight minor political parties under the control of the United Front Work Department.