The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is allegedly spying on various members of India’s Zee news group – including the editor-in-chief of its WION news subsidiary – following Zee’s critical coverage of Beijing’s coronavirus coverup and China’s aggressive actions toward India along their shared border near the northern Indian state of Ladakh in recent months.
The CCP “has been rattled by the Zee group’s coverage of the Wuhan [corona]virus and [the] Ladakh border standoff, [and] has targeted Zee and WION’s editor-in-chief, Sudhir Chaudhary, through its unholy nexus of cyber espionage,” WION, a subsidiary of the Zee news family, alleged on Monday.
According to a recent report by the Indian Express, China’s Zhenhua Data Information Technology Company “has been tasked with monitoring over 10,000 prominent [Indian] citizens, including top brass of … India’s Army, judiciary, scientific establishments, and news media.” Key to Zhenhua Data’s monitoring process is its stated “goal of mining data” to push what it refers to as “hybrid warfare,” or “using non-military tools to achieve dominance or damage, subvert, or influence.” According to Zhenhua Data, these tools include “information pollution, perception management, and propaganda.”
One of Zhenhua Data’s top clients is the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and it is said to be linked to Chinese intelligence networks.
Chaudhary himself addressed the allegations on Twitter.
“Woke up to this. I’m being tracked by China along with other journos, political leaders & defence top brass,” Chaudhary said on Monday. “Nobody expected China to play fair, but this is taking the fight to a new low. Thwarted at our borders, it’s infiltrating our phones.Failing to muzzle us, it’s snooping on us.”
On June 29, WION reported on the Indian government’s banning of 59 Chinese-owned apps, including the video-sharing app, TikTok. Three days later, Beijing retaliated by blocking access to the WION website in mainland China.
“Since the beginning of [the Chinese] coronavirus pandemic, WION has reported extensively on China’s cover-up [of its outbreak in the city of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged late last year],” WION explains. “Beijing has expressed its displeasure over this in more ways than one.”
On March 13, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian blocked WION on Twitter.
After we reported on how China is deflecting blame for the coronavirus outbreak, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson has blocked WION and @palkisu on Twitter. But, Beijing has not stopped making fresh claims about the Wuhan virus. It now blames US soldiers for the outbreak. pic.twitter.com/zxwuK1yvX3
— WION (@WIONews) March 13, 2020
In June, the CCP mouthpiece Global Times joined in the censure of WION for its unflinching coverage of China, ironically urging the investigative news outlet to “think independently.”
Chinese officials have yet to publicly address the allegations.