An intelligence agency which is a mystery and a headache for other agencies in the world. An intelligence agency who is best in the world in corporate, industrial and cyber espionage. An intelligence agency which treats all its citizens living abroad as spies, tries to convert them into spies. I am talking about Chinese intelligence agency MSS and in today’s episode of Espionage Stories, we will find out how this agency works, collects intelligence and recruits spies. Today’s episode is based on R&AW’s former chief Vikram Sood’s book “The Unending Game” and US Defense Intelligence Agency’s Nicholas Efifidia’s book Chinese intelligence operations. During the Kosovo war, on March 27, 1999, a Serbian missile shoots down an American stealth fighter plane F-117 Nighthawk and it crashes into plain fields. Among the first to reach the crash site were Chinese agents, who immediately evacuate crash site take it under control. With the help of the farmers living nearby, they collect all debris and damaged parts of the crashed plane. Cut to 2011, a few days before the US Defense Secretary’s at the time Leon Panetta’s visit to Beijing, Chinese media starts reporting that the Chinese air force has developed the prototype of its first ever first stealth aircraft named J-20. Photos of this prototype are also shown in Chinese media. It soon becomes clear that this Chinese J-20 stealth aircraft is made from debris and damaged parts of Nighthawk F-117 that crashed two years ago. America, who had been taking Chinese intelligence lightly till now was given a swift and well timed shock by China. Actually Chinese intelligence agencies were saying “we have arrived!”. Ministry of State Security a.k.a MSS, this is the name of China’s foreign Intelligence Agency. Its Operations and methods have remained a mystery to the world, especially for the Western block, these methods are quite new. But for China, these methods are quite old dating back to the 5th century BC. Sun Tzu’s book “The Art of War” also known as Military Manual describes espionage, methods of intelligence collection, recruiting spies etc. These methods are employed by MSS today. In Maoist China pf pre-1976, intelligence focused mainly on internal enemies. First priority of Chinese intelligence agencies at that time was to protect and empower Chinese Communist Party. Outside world was not the priority of Chinese intelligence agencies at that time. But in 1976, after Mao’s death, Deng Xiaoping brought economic reforms in 1978 and priorities of Chinese intelligence start shifting. Now, for Chinese intelligence agencies, understanding the world especially developed western world, becomes very important. Now these agencies focus entirely on understanding how western countries work and China’s rapid economic growth becomes first priority. China, very soon understands that in warfare, America relies heavily on advanced technology & information systems, and this American strength could also become its Achilles heel. Now to access, steal, hack this technology, China decides to develop sustained ability. Now China decides to access all that technology from America by any means possible. Technology that America was refusing to sell to China and was also not letting it buy from other countries. Chinese intelligence agencies start working to gain access to that technology. Now China was going to become a new player on the world map. In past few years, Chinese intelligence agencies have been successful in stealing military & technology secrets from America. but the question is, how? Chinese intelligence agencies, too work like other agencies, but very mysteriously For espionage missions on foreign lands, they also use diplomatic cover, cultural attache, defense attache and journalists. But the difference is that these journalists are on Chinese embassy’s payroll, they are Chinese government’s employees. Chinese intelligence agency, MSS expertise lies in infiltrating organizations in foreign countries and planting moles there. For this they use Chinese scholars, professors and researchers living abroad. Sometimes these people are aware that they are spying for MSS and sometimes they are clueless. MSS also manages big think tank all over the world and uses them as cover for espionage. Head of MSS till 2016, Geng Huichang was earlier the president of China’s most powerful and influential think tank, China Institute of Strategic Studies. A researcher of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences was working in Chinese embassy in Tokyo. He was working with Tokyo’s several prestigious education institutes and organizations. But sometime later it was revealed that he was actually a military intelligence officer. MSS routinely raids brothels and bars in China looking for foreign businessmen especially Taiwanese businessmen. After arresting these businessmen they are blackmailed into spying fro MSS. MSS also uses women effectively to ensnare targets for blackmail & intelligence. Such a most famous case, an embarrassing one for the US was Katrina Leung case. Katrina Leung was an MSS agent recruited by FBI in 1982 to spy on Chinese. But instead, between 1982 & 2003, Katrina converted several top FBI officers into Chinese mole and obtained classified intelligence from them by using seduction for years. Most of the intelligence agencies consider Human Intelligence (HUMINT) as the best method of collecting intelligence. For this intelligence officers work endlessly to find suitable sources and after spending lot of time, after due diligence, they recruit someone as source, agent or asset. But the way MSS uses HUMINT, no one can compete with that. for HUMINT, MSS uses its citizens living abroad and when I say citizens, I mean every person who is Chinese and living abroad. MSS tries to use them. Chinese students, engineers, doctors, scholars, professors, businessmen, all are used and are encouraged to share all kind of information with the Chinese government. According to US government’s Intelligence Threat Handbook 2000, MSS was targeting Chinese community living in America for intelligence collection and was being successful to a great extent. In his book “Chinese Intelligence Operations”, Nicholas Eftimiades decribes in great details that how an ordinary Chinese student is transformed into a spy. Before coming to the USA, every Chinese student is met by MSS officers & Communist party representatives. After that MSS officials take the Chinese applicants under their wings and become their handlers. During their briefing, these students are at all times, asked to remember their families, Chinese Communist Party and country. After moving abroad, these students are encouraged to perform good in academics, to receive good grades and to establish as much high level contacts as possible. After this communist party and MSS handlers maintain continuous contact with their students abroad and also keep an eye on them. MSS handlers look for two things especially; 1) If the students are doing good as spies and 2) those students who could pose a danger by getting attracted towards democracy. I you don’t find all this strange, then imagine, from tomorrow, Research & Analysis Wing starts meeting with all the Indian students going abroad for studies and they are told that its their duty to pass all the information you receive to Indian government even if that information is a gossip, joke, rumor or a fact. This paranoia of MSS doesn’t end here. All the letters sent by Chinese citizens from abroad and read are opened by MSS and confiscate them if necessary citing security reasons. Presently, in military, hacking, corporate, industrial, economic and cuber espionage. Chinese intelligence agency MSS is one of the best. In 2013, US government accused MSS of hacking systems of several US defense companies who were manufacturing advanced defense systems like Patriot Missile, F/A fighter and THAAD. The transcripts of a congressional hearing held on 9 June 2016 show that in 2014, Chinese hackers accessed the credentials of a company that works with NASA, Keypoint Government Solutions. Using same credentials MSS agents obtained access into NASA’s Officer of Personnel Mgt. This is considered to be the biggest national security breach in US history. Similarly in 2009, MSS hackers hacked into Boeing’s systems and stole advanced technical documents related to F-22 & F-35 A Chinese American named Xiang Dong Yu was working for Ford Motors as engineer but in reality was an MSS agent stealing trade secrets of Ford for Beijing Automotive Company. According to Ford, 4000 documents were stolen which contained years of work and technical know-how worth millions of dollars. In Jan 2012, a Chinese American named Yaun Li was apprehended who was working as research chemist in Sanofi Aventis and was selling Sanofi’s trade secrets to a Beijing pharma company for decades. As far as India is concerned, compared to the US, MSS’ objectives may be different and more aggresive In America, MSS only targets & collects intelligence on military and technology but in India, MSS may be working to cripple the countries’ vitals systems. Whenever an Indian system or website is attacked, it should be considered China’s practice to test Indian vulnerabilities. Indian government should take any such attack very seriously and respond after adequate planning. If you liked the video, please like, share & subscribe to the channel. See you soon with another episode of Espionage Stories. Jai Maa Bharti! Jai Hind!