The report gave an example of how a US-based company had to shut down due to Chinese espionage.
NEW DELHI: Dozens of the world’s most powerful country’s intelligence agencies and their collective might fail to tackle the impact of overt and covert intelligence China is waging against the United States. This was stated in a 153-page report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, a heavily redacted version of which was released last month.
In 2022, the budget allocation of the National Intelligence Program, which finances the activities of American intelligence agencies, including that of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which deals with the external threat, was 62.3 billion dollars, or about 5.60 trillion rupees, more than the entire GDP of Ukraine, and more than that of about 130 of the world’s approximately 190 countries. To compare and put things into perspective, last year’s budget allocation for India’s internal intelligence agency, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), was Rs 3,168 crore.
The allocation to the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), which looks after India’s foreign intelligence part, is not made public, but is stated to be ‘more than’ what is allocated at IB.
While US agencies and politicians have repeatedly mentioned China as their main adversary, Indian politicians except the late George Fernandes have refrained from declaring China as India’s number one adversary. , although this interpretation is something that intelligence agents have always maintained while talking in private. In the US Senate Committee report, China was mentioned as the top country under the heading “Global Adversaries”, with other notable mentions being Russia, Iran and North Korea.
“China poses the greatest long-term strategic threat and poses a unique challenge to the United States. China is a rising power close to parity with the United States in terms of gross domestic product as well as in some aspects of military power. Unlike the earlier rivalry with the Soviet Union, which was military and ideological in nature, the rivalry with China exists across the economic, technological, military, diplomatic, and ideological spectrums. Moreover, the United States and China are interdependent in a way that the United States has never been with other adversaries. China seeks first to replace the United States as a regional power in East Asia, and then eventually to replace the United States as a global hegemon,” the report said.
According to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Asher Wray, the Chinese government was “the deepest, most diverse, most vexing, difficult, most comprehensive and most disturbing that the United States has faced, perhaps in its history. The report said at least 2,000 FBI investigations are in various stages and focus on Chinese government efforts to steal American information and technology.
Quoting the FBI director, the report gave an example of how a US-based company had to shut down because of Chinese espionage. “The evil of Chinese economic espionage is not just that Chinese companies advance based on stolen technology; it’s that they push away American businesses and workers, leading to corporate bankruptcies and job losses. For example, a Chinese government-owned company stole proprietary wind turbine control source code from an American firm in Massachusetts, costing the company more than $1 billion in market capitalization and laying off 600 employees. .
The Senate’s full report is based on documents and interactions with officials and individuals. “Anything that makes an industry work, it targets: source code from software companies, test data and chemical designs from pharmaceutical companies, engineering designs from manufacturers, personal data from hospitals, credit bureaus and banks. They even sent people to sneak into the agribusiness field and extract advanced seeds from the ground. The common theme is that they steal things that companies can’t afford to lose.
As the world has seen during the Covid pandemic, many countries are now depending on China for the crucial Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) needed to manufacture medicines, which this report also talked about.
“China’s quest to become the world leader in biotechnology is a good example of the strategic risks that Chinese technological dominance could pose to the United States. Chinese pharmaceutical dominance would create US dependencies and increase China’s influence in the drug supply chain, allowing China to dictate prices or limit supply. China already accounts for 50% of world trade.
According to the findings, China, in order to leave little distinction between its public and private sectors, passed laws that mandated government access to private sector data and required citizens and private sector organizations that they provide national security authorities, public security authorities, military authorities and national intelligence efforts with all necessary support and assistance.
According to the US agencies’ assessment, shared with the Senate committee, the Chinese government is using all available means of collection – including human intelligence gathering, technical gathering and cyber espionage – to penetrate the US government, private sector and academia in order to collect information. This includes a wide variety of non-intelligence personnel, including businessmen, students studying at US universities, and researchers working in US labs, to transfer information to China. Quoting the FBI director, the committee said China is adept at hacking and has “unleashed” massive and sophisticated hacking programs that are larger than those of all other major nations combined. He adds that Chinese cyber forces operate from all major cities in China and have strong funding and sophisticated tools.
After Galwan, Indian assets, both government and private, have been repeatedly hit by Chinese state-backed hackers, the evidence of which is well documented and also strongly denied by Chinese government officials. The report came even as it was revealed that Chinese intelligence broke into the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico with at least 150 Chinese scientists who got jobs between 1987 and 2021 in the country. laboratory and then returned to China and joined government and private agencies to develop military technologies such as deep-earth penetrating warheads, hypersonic missiles, silent submarines and drones, which they had seen and learned in the United States. The lab, a top-secret facility, performs highly sensitive work for the US government. This incident has been described as one of the biggest failures of US intelligence agencies in recent times.
The Senate Committee said the accountability gap between different agencies was being exploited by their Chinese counterparts. He further found that central counterintelligence agencies were ill-equipped and ill-structured to counter growing threats from foreign espionage. “There is no consensus on whether certain emerging threats, particularly foreign malign influence and cyber threats, fit the definition of counterintelligence,” the report said, adding that the agencies did not been able to adapt to the growing role of the cyber threat and the “threat landscape for the whole of society”.