CogitAsia Podcast: Understanding China’s Intelligence Services

In this episode we explore how China spies. China’s role in geopolitics continues to expand, yet finding even the basics on China’s organizations responsible for foreign intelligence collection and espionage is a challenge.

Jamestown Foundation Fellow Peter Mattis and CSIS Freeman Chair in China Studies Christopher Johnson rundown China’s key civilian and military intelligence services, describe their origin story (7:59), and discuss their role in service to the Chinese Communist Party and the state (13:15). They also shed light on the tradecraft and tactics of the Ministry of State Security, Ministry of Public Security, and the People’s Liberation Army (24:02), examine China’s open-source intel gathering capabilities (31:26), analytic methods (37:06), and assess the growing professionalism in China’s intelligence services (40:10). Hosted by Will Colson. Audio edited by Frances Burkham. Written and produced by Jeffrey Bean.

Read the article by Samantha Hoffman on China’s State Security apparatus published in the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief mentioned on the podcast here.

To learn more, see the following articles by Peter Mattis:

Beyond Spy versus Spy: The Analytic Challenge of Understanding Chinese Intelligence Services,” Studies in Intelligence, Volume 56, Issue 3 (September 2012), pp. 47-58.

Shriver Case Highlights Traditional Chinese Espionage,” China Brief, Volume 10, Issue 22, November 5, 2010.

Taiwan Espionage Cases Highlight Changes in Chinese Intelligence Operations,” China Brief, Volume 11, Issue 12, July 1, 2011.

Assessing the Foreign Policy Influence of the Ministry of State Security,” China Brief, Volume 11, Issue 1, January 14, 2011.

China’s Espionage Against Taiwan (Part I): Analysis of Recent Operations,” China Brief, November 7, 2014.

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Christopher K. Johnson

Christopher K. Johnson

Christopher K. Johnson is a senior adviser and holds the Freeman Chair in China Studies at CSIS. Prior to joining CSIS, Mr. Johnson worked as a senior China analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency.


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