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India needs to beware of the Chinese agents in white-collars

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The International Liaison Department (ILD) of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) operates as a secretive arm of China’s foreign policy apparatus, tasked with advancing the party’s interests and influence on the global stage. While shrouded in secrecy, the ILD plays a pivotal role in shaping international perceptions, fostering strategic partnerships, and promoting Beijing’s agenda abroad.

Today in India, intelligence sources indicate that an estimated 50000 agents linked to ILD-CCP will be donning white-collar jobs in the country and working clandestinely to influence the narrative in India to be pro-China. They exert a vehement influence on the media. Newsclick is just one such fish in the pond. They use strategies such as honey traps, money, or even investment in businesses to win people over and then use them as tools to support China’s advocacy. In recent times, Chinese agents linked to PLA China have been working to induce people to fall into the traps of Loan Apps to then exert pressure on failure to pay back the loan to become conduits for information or other favors.

In August 2008, Rahul Gandhi, then General Secretary of the Indian National Congress, signed an MoU with ILD-CCP. This MoU has not been made public to date by the Congress leadership. But, politicians are not the only assets to agents of ILD-CCP. The foreign covert arm of China seeks to cultivate relationships with political elites, academics, media figures, and business leaders in target countries, exerting influence through a combination of persuasion, coercion, and inducements through a network of clandestine operatives, intermediaries, and front organizations.

Established in 1951, the ILD operates under the direct purview of the CCP’s Central Committee, with a mandate to conduct covert diplomacy, cultivate relationships with foreign political parties and organizations, and influence public opinion in key target countries. Initially focused on supporting communist movements and revolutionary struggles worldwide, the ILD’s mission has evolved to encompass broader objectives, including promoting China’s economic interests, countering Western influence, and expanding Beijing’s soft power footprint.

Central to the ILD’s modus operandi is covert diplomacy and influence operations designed to shape perceptions, manipulate narratives, and advance Beijing’s strategic objectives. The ILD engages in party-to-party diplomacy as a means of building strategic alliances and advancing China’s interests on the global stage. By forging ties with foreign political parties and movements, the ILD seeks to promote ideological affinity, garner political support, and neutralize potential adversaries. This form of “party capture” enables Beijing to exert leverage, shape policy outcomes, and undermine democratic processes in target countries, often operating under the guise of friendship and cooperation. The MoU between the Indian National Congress and ILD-CCP is a reflection of the strategy adopted by China. Rahul Gandhi and the Congress have been conduits to propagate China’s agenda.

In addition to party-to-party engagement, the ILD conducts United Front work aimed at co-opting overseas Chinese communities and diaspora organizations to serve as conduits for CCP influence and propaganda. Through a combination of financial incentives, cultural outreach, and pressure tactics, the ILD seeks to harness the loyalty and resources of overseas Chinese to advance Beijing’s political agenda, suppress dissent, and silence critics abroad.

The covert operations of the ILD have far-reaching implications for global geopolitics, posing challenges to democratic governance, national sovereignty, and international stability. By leveraging its influence networks and soft power tools, the CCP seeks to reshape the global order in its image, eroding democratic norms, undermining human rights, and consolidating authoritarian rule. The ILD’s activities contribute to a broader pattern of Chinese assertiveness and strategic competition, fueling tensions with Western democracies and posing a significant challenge to the rules-based international order.

As the covert arm of the Chinese Communist Party’s foreign policy apparatus, the International Liaison Department plays a central role in advancing Beijing’s strategic interests and promoting its agenda on the global stage. Through covert diplomacy, party-to-party engagement, and influence operations, the ILD seeks to shape perceptions, cultivate allies, and exert influence in key target countries, posing challenges to democratic governance and international stability. As China’s global ambitions continue to expand, the ILD’s covert operations are likely to remain a focal point of concern for policymakers, analysts, and advocates of democracy and human rights worldwide.

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