Chinese National Intelligence Law is dangerous for India’s National Security Apparatus

    06-Jun-2020
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The Chinese spy law will affect many verticals like governance, trade, businesses and in-post COVID-19 telemedicine and cyber space in India. CCP uses hybrid warfare toolkit, injecting communist through Social Media platforms targeting youngsters of India to create civil unrest.
 - Divya Razdan 

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The military manifesto of PLA on unrestricted warfare is somewhat delineated on the lines of Arthashastra, India’s indigenous knowledge on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy. What is dangerous is that China is using the Niti of साम, दाम, भेद और दंड; meaning the use of the lethal toolkit, commercial spinoffs, usage of hard power and soft power and covert invasions/operations to capture the global market aiming for the economic dominance. Since we are heading towards a new decade from 2020, Hybrid warfare has all the more become prudent for the strategic growth of any country. As the world is busy fighting Chinese virus or COVID-19, China is gaining access to larger domains of trade, commerce, military space and technology through one of its seemingly non-lethal law which is called “National Intelligence Law, 2017” which falls under the purview of its military doctrine as mentioned above. In respect to India, China’s art of warfare is precisely what it’s military manifesto suggests.
 
Chinese National Intelligence Law was adopted at the 28th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress on June 27, 2017. China relatively expedited the spying law to give authorities far-reaching powers to monitor and investigate foreign and domestic individuals and institutions. The tone of the legislation drafted is deliberately kept a low profile. The interpretation of the law can be very ambiguous as nothing much is clearly stated, or if to put aptly, everything is hidden in plain sight. This is classic tactics of China’s Communist Party (CCP). This is also the reason why many international forums, including media house, have questioned this law, but legal authorities of CCP are adequately able to defend themselves. Here, it is essential to note that CCP has wide and deep reach into Chinese telecommunications and other Chinese-owned and operated companies around the world. This is the cause of real concern for India’s National and Cybersecurity apparatus. The risk of Chinese state control globally and with respect to India is not a matter of fiction anymore.
 
The Chinese spy law will affect many verticals like governance, trade, businesses and in-post COVID-19 telemedicine and cyberspace in India. This is a big threat and CCP uses hybrid warfare toolkit very sagaciously. They are injecting their communist ideology into institutions and cyberspace of India through Social Media Networking and other platforms targeting youngsters of India to create civil unrest while defence forces engage into conflicts on border aiming to divert the world’s attention from India’s economic reforms. China’s Tech companies, software and hardware setup in the country actually works as ground stations for spying the data and exporting it to China. This is nothing short of weaponizing the telecommunication industry leading to Cyber Terrorism.
 
Considering the Chinese deep reach in the country through emerging technologies gives strategic advantage to CCP’s trade deals for Border Road Initiative (BRI) other sectors. The major concern regarding the telecommunication sector is the 5G technology where China wants to hold dominance in the world. One of the ICT giant Huawei recently declared in a media briefing that if the Chinese government would ask to hand over 5G data to them, then Huawei would be compelled to do so. This comes into effect after the induction of China’s Intelligence Law 2017, which states that “support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work”. Primary investigation on 5G by countries like the US, Japan and Australia have already decided to block the Chinese telecommunication equipment maker from providing hardware for this next-generation mobile network. Smartphones with such network capabilities are no less than Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and if not taken seriously can lead to critical consequences in the near future. 
 
China’s Tech companies, software and hardware setup in the country actually work as ground stations for spying on data and exporting it to China. This is nothing short of weaponizing the telecommunication industry leading to Cyber Terrorism.
 
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It is interesting to note that CCP also adopted other laws like targeting counter-terrorism, counter-espionage, foreign non-profits and cybersecurity. This only indicates massive level surveillance under the law and subsequently implicating concerns over National Security. For example under General Provisions of National Intelligence Law, 2017, Article 11 states that” National intelligence work institutions shall lawfully collect and process relevant intelligence on foreign bodies, organizations and individuals engaged in, or inciting or assisting others to engage in, or domestic bodies, organizations and individuals who collude with foreign bodies, organizations or individuals to engage in harm to the national security and interests of the People’s Republic of China, in order to provide intelligence as a reference and basis and reference for preventing, curbing and punishing the above acts.” Another Article 14 states that National intelligence work institutions, when carrying out intelligence work according to laws, may ask relevant institutions, organizations and citizens to provide the necessary support, assistance and cooperation.”
 
There are so many articles as mentioned above in the law, and hence, it becomes all the more prudent for the government of India to take strong measures on urgent basis. Chinese Networking is that undercurrent which deeply works into global geopolitics, impacting its influence forcefully or otherwise. China’s economic ambitions are affecting the indigenous sectors of the country. Therefore, VOICE FOR LOCAL as campaigned by PM Shri Narendra Modi seems to be well thought out counter-strategy to counter China. Few rudimentary solutions charted out to stop the Chinese intrusion are as follows: 
  1. Empowering the Local infrastructure, commercial market and demands.
  2. Creating a common consensus on non-usage and buying of China made products.
  3. Indian Telecommunication sector needs critical reformations, legally as well as capability wise.
  4. Cyber Task Force (CTF) must be appointed by GOI to meticulously see Social Media & other platforms on how CCP is spreading its ideology in the country.
  5. Identifying the DEEP STATE in dealing with commercial spinoffs for Chinese’s benefit.
  6. Promote MAKE IN INDIA with more realistic approaches by empowering domestic human and material resources in terms of Ease of doing business, Fairness in the tender acquisition, Ease in recognition my concerned ministries.
  7. A considerable amount of Defence budget is required to be spent on psychological warfare domain-inclusive with legal access and R&D in technology and other capabilities. 
There are many aspects related to Chinese’s intrusion in Indian cyberspace threatening the National Security, which can be dealt with integrated warfare toolkit. Aggregation of data which is basically an informational network through apps and service indicates that most of it are Chinese. In short, the Internet of Things (IoT), which we commonly know is a non-kinetic weapon which is nothing short of a WMD in today’s scenario. This not only controls digital space but also the geopolitics, societal, ideological, technological and other infrastructures in the country. Chinese’s invasion needs to be annihilated by the pragmatic application of self-reliance. Here, the Israeli model of innovation can be an inspiration for India to fuel its R&D, technological capabilities, tactical engagements and operations. India on urgent basis needs to have strategic leveraging in military diplomacy, bureaucracy, technological R&D, and legal access to counter China’s intrusion in the country.
 
(Author is a Journalist & Researcher and a Associate Member at IDSA)