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Chinese Intelligence Coopts Former Czech Communist-Era Intelligence Agents To Serve As Proxies In Czechia

January 18th, 2022 15:16

The Jamestown Foun­da­tion, a US think tank, report­ed last month that Chi­na’s Min­istry of State Secu­ri­ty has been attempt­ing to coopt influ­en­tial voic­es in media and acad­e­mia in the Czech Repub­lic to serve as prox­ies for Chi­na’s gov­ern­ment. These efforts have involved for­mer agents of com­mu­nist-era Czecho­slo­va­ki­a’s now defunct intel­li­gence ser­vice. Accord­ing to the Jamestown Foun­da­tion report:

Decem­ber 3, 2021 New rev­e­la­tions on the laun­der­ing of Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty (CCP) pro­pa­gan­da through local actors in the Czech Repub­lic point to an under­re­searched aspect of influ­ence oper­a­tions. The CCP’s tac­tic of “bor­row­ing a boat to go out to sea” (借船出海, jie chuan chu hai), i.e., coopt­ing local media out­lets to serve as prox­ies, has long been known to involve organs in the party’s pro­pa­gan­da sys­tem. Fur­ther scruti­ny of laun­dered pro­pa­gan­da oper­a­tions now indi­cates the Min­istry of State Security’s (MSS, 国家安全部, Guo­jia Anquan Bu) role in efforts to coopt influ­en­tial voic­es in media and acad­e­mia abroad. In the Czech Repub­lic, these oper­a­tions involve for­mer col­lab­o­ra­tors of the MSS’s defunct Czechoslo­vak equiv­a­lent, a nexus that sug­gests the People’s Repub­lic of China’s (PRC) intel­li­gence appa­ra­tus is reac­ti­vat­ing ele­ments from com­mu­nist-era secu­ri­ty agen­cies.  Two influ­ence oper­a­tions that have recent­ly come to light in the Czech Repub­lic, one tar­get­ing the media, and the oth­er acad­e­mia, shed new light on the links between the PRC’s secu­ri­ty ser­vices and its exter­nal pro­pa­gan­da efforts.

Read the rest here.

The report notes that Literární noviny, a well-known Czech news­pa­per, has been grad­u­al­ly turned into a pro-Chi­na plat­form under the lead­er­ship of the for­mer pres­i­den­tial spokesper­son Miroslav Pavel in 2009. Under Pavel, the news­pa­per entered into a part­ner­ship with the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment-con­trolled news­pa­per Guang­ming Ribao to print arti­cles pro­duced by the paper, Accord­ing to now pub­licly avail­able intel­li­gence files, dur­ing the 1970s. Pavel worked for Czechoslo­vak State Secu­ri­ty (Stat­ní bezpečnost, StB), the com­mu­nist regime’s secret police,

The report also high­lights what ift­calls’ pro­pa­gan­da-laun­der­ing’ activ­i­ties of Czech aca­d­e­m­ic Marek Hrubec, who has repeat­ed­ly pub­lished pro-Chi­na op-eds in Chi­nese gov­ern­ment-con­trolled media out­lets who was recent­ly removed from the Czech Acad­e­my of Sci­ences (CAS) over his links to Chi­nese intel­li­gence agents.