Thursday, June 8, 2023
Support Our Journalism
HomeOpinionChinascopeChina is making national security a priority, starting with crackdown on open...

China is making national security a priority, starting with crackdown on open source data

China’s state security minister writes that the country’s next phase of development is directly linked to the ‘new security pattern’.

Text Size:

China is closing all loopholes that give access to open-source data as Xi promotes a ‘new security pattern’. The United States of America intelligence leaks reveal the weakness of Taiwan’s defence capability to deter an air attack by Beijing. Home Minister Amit Shah launches Vibrant Villages Programme to counter China’s model ‘Xiaokang villages’. Chinascope examines Beijing’s ‘new security pattern’ and what it could mean for the world.

China over the week

Every action Beijing takes these days appears to emanate from a core ideology of a national security state, which has slowly seeped into all government institutions — from social harmony to the military.

In line with this, Beijing has introduced the concept of a ‘new security pattern’ that wants to regulate every aspect of Chinese society.

An article from 15 April in the Chinese Community Party’s theoretical journal Qiushi provides some insights into how China’s next phase of development is directly linked to the ‘new security pattern’.

“Building a new security pattern is the main task of national security work at present and in the future. The Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core attaches unprecedented importance and support to national security work, and the favourable conditions for building a new security pattern are also unprecedented. We must bravely shoulder the heavy responsibility of the times and better maintain our strategic focus and initiative,” wrote Chen Yixin, China’s Minister of State Security.

Chen is China’s top intelligence chief. His words can’t be taken lightly.

Chen wrote that the ‘new security pattern’ seeks “to deepen theoretical research, promote practical innovation, accelerate the construction of a new security pattern to guarantee the new development pattern, and guarantee Chinese modernisation with a high level of security”.

Since 2016, China has marked 15 April as National Security Day, it has now become institutionalised in Xi’s third term. Over the last three years, the Beijing government has taken severe measures to align technology companies close to its agenda by regulating the data and cracking down on open-source data platforms that can provide insights about Chinese military institutions and other national security entities.

On Saturday, the hashtag “National Security Education Day” was viewed over 480 million times on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like Chinese social media platform.

To educate people about national security threats, the Ministry of Public Security released a documentary, via the platform, about the case of an amateur radio enthusiast named Zheng who received a free Automatic Identification System (AIS) from a foreign company to collect marine data. The AIS allows tracking of maritime traffic by capturing the signal emitted from a ship.

The equipment Zheng received was collecting data from the military naval port three kilometres from his house in an unknown province of China. Zheng was reprimanded for installing the equipment and transmitting sensitive ‘national security data’ — his sentence hasn’t been revealed.

With the new move, Beijing is trying to close all access to open-source data which can provide insights into the People’s Liberation Army’s naval activity, including irregular maritime militia used by the PLA in the South China Sea.

The data gathered from AIS and ADS-B receivers can provide a treasure trove of military activity, which can be captured by installing signal-capturing machines close to where the action occurs.

But restricting access to open-source data has had an impact on academic research as well.

Institutions such as Taiwan’s Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy, the City University of Hong Kong, and University of California, San Diego, were told their access to the China National Knowledge Infrastructure platform, which indexes articles about everything from ancient Chinese literature to hypersonic missile technology, will be restricted from 1 April to ensure that “cross-border services are in compliance with the law”, the Financial Times reported.

We don’t know how many institutions have been given the notice to end their access to China’s premier academic research database.

Beijing’s obsession with national security-driven development — including the Chinese apps and the semiconductor industry — will not stay within the boundaries of the mainland. Xi will export these ideas to countries where the fractures in the current international order allow Zhongnanhai, the CCP headquarters, to install itself.

Also Read: French president Macron bags many deals with China but ends up annoying Xi Jinping

China in world news

A 21-year-old airman and his Discord community— a messaging and social networking platform — were at the centre of the most significant intelligence leak since Edward Snowden leaked classified National Security Agency documents. Jack Teixeira, the leaker, shared a highly sensitive US assessment about China agreeing to supply lethal aid to Russia — among other revelations.

The leaked document suggested that China would increase its aid to Russia if the Ukrainian “strikes hit a location of high strategic value” or “appeared to target senior Russian leaders”.

Another revelation in the leaked documents was the US assessment that Taiwan’s air defence system couldn’t “accurately detect missile launches” and that only half of Taiwan’s aircraft are fully prepared for an attack by China.

India’s defence establishment has been tied down by China’s rapid construction of new ‘Xiaokang’ villages along the Line of Actual Control.

To counter Beijing’s ingress in the border areas, New Delhi has launched its Vibrant Villages Programme. The Cabinet has approved Rs 4,800 crore budget for the programme.

On 10 April, Union home minister Amit Shah inaugurated a new village in Arunachal Pradesh named Kibithoo.

Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign ministry has condemned Shah’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

“Zangnan is part of China’s territory. The activity of the senior Indian official in Zangnan violates China’s territorial sovereignty and is not conducive to peace and tranquillity in the border areas. We are firmly against this,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin.

Beijing calls Arunachal Pradesh Zangnan and claims the region is part of Southern Tibet.

Must read this week

Why China’s Leader Hasn’t Called the President of Ukraine – Vivan Wang

China and India: The future of the global consumer market – Brookings Institution

Macron Said Out Loud What Europeans Really Think About China – Benjamin Haddad

The author is a columnist and a freelance journalist. He was previously a China media journalist at the BBC World Service. He is currently a MOFA Taiwan Fellow based in Taipei and tweets @aadilbrar. Views are personal.

(Edited by Theres Sudeep)

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular