China has reportedly taken down one of its website after a detailed questionnaire was sent to the email ID mentioned on contact section of the website. According to a report with The Indian Express, a Chinese website china-revival.com had received a list of questions on September 1 but did not respond. The website is now not accessible. According to the report, a Shenzen-based technology company with links to the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party is keeping an eye on more than 10,000 Indians and organisations. The company calls itself a pioneer in using big data for 'hybrid warfare' and the 'great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation'.
When a correspondent visited the Shenzhen headquarters of Zhenhua Data and presented a list of questions, a staff member of the company said it was not convenient to disclose the information. The range of targets in India identified and monitored in real time by Zhenhua Data Information Technology Co. Limited is sweeping — in both breadth and depth.
Zhenhua data leak: Who are being snooped?
Names covered in the report include President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi and her family; Mamata Banerjee, Ashok Gehlot, Amarinder Singh, Uddhav Thackeray, Naveen Patnaik, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Rajnath Singh, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani, Piyush Goyal, Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Singh Rawat and nearly 15 former Chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force.
Other names on the list included Chief Justice of India Sharad Bobde, brother judge AM Khanwilkar, Lokpal Justice PC Ghose and Comptroller, Auditor General GC Murmu; start-up tech entrepreneurs like Nipun Mehra, founder of Bharat Pe (an Indian payment app), and Ajay Trehan of AuthBridge, an authentication technology firm and top industrialists Ratan Tata and Gautam Adani.
Not just influential individuals in the political and official establishment, Indians being monitored cut across disciplines, the report claimed. They include bureaucrats in key positions; judges; scientists and academicians; journalists; actors and sportspersons; religious figures and activists and even hundreds accused of financial crime, corruption, terrorism, and smuggling of narcotics, gold, arms or wildlife.
Meanwhile, sources from a Chinese Embassy in Delhi have said China has not asked and will not ask companies or individuals to collect or provide data, information and intelligence stored within other countries’ territories for the Chinese government by installing “backdoors” or by violating local laws.
On Zhenhua’s list of those being monitored are former chief ministers Raman Singh, Ashok Chavan and Siddaramaiah; leaders of political parties, the late M Karunanidhi of DMK, the late Kanshi Ram of Bahujan Samaj Party and RJD’s Lalu Prasad Yadav. The database has a strategic collection of over 250 Indian bureaucrats and diplomats, including Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla; Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant; as many as 23 former and current Chief Secretaries and over a dozen former and current police chiefs of states.
Those from the news media named in the list include: N Ravi, who was last week named The Hindu Group chairman; Zee News Editor-in-Chief Sudhir Chaudhary; India Today Group Consulting Editor Rajdeep Sardesai; former media advisor in the Prime Minister’s Office Sanjaya Baru; and The Indian Express Chief Editor Raj Kamal Jha.
Key names in sports, culture and religion also figure in the list. Former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, film director Shyam Benegal, classical dancer Sonal Mansingh, former Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh, several bishops and Archbishops of churches, self-styled god-woman Radhe Maa (Sukhwinder Kaur); Bibi Jagir Kaur, the first woman to be elected Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee for the second time, and Hardev Singh of the Nirankari Mission, are being monitored.
This assumes significance when an increasingly assertive China is locked in a simmering standoff with India along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and is pushing against many of its neighbours in the region and beyond.
Indeed, Zhenhua claims it works with Chinese intelligence, military and security agencies.