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13th & 14th September – Editorials/Opinions Analyses


  1. Hybrid warfare
  2. India-China five-point action plan
  3. SCO: A counter-coalition of Eurasian powers


Focus: GS-III Internal Security Challenges

Why in news?

Recently Chinese-only website of Zhenhua Data Information Technology Co, the company monitoring foreign targets, was pulled down soon after it was reached for comments.

What does Zhenhua Data do?

  • Zhenhua targets individuals and institutions in politics, government, business, technology, media, and civil society.
  • Claiming to work with Chinese intelligence, military and security agencies, Zhenhua monitors the subject’s digital footprint across social media platforms, maintains an “information library,” which includes content not just from news sources, forums, but also from papers, patents, bidding documents, even positions of recruitment.
  • Significantly, it builds a “relational database”, which records and describes associations between individuals, institutions, and information.
  • Collecting such massive data and weaving in public or sentiment analysis around these targets, Zhenhua offers “threat intelligence services.”

Isn’t much of this publicly available data, so what’s the worry?

  • It is not data per se but the range and the use to which it may be put to that raises red flags.
  • Zhenhua’s 24 x 7 watch collects personal information on the target from all social media accounts; keeps track of the target’s friends and relationships; analyses posts, likes and comments by friends and followers; collects even private information about movements such as geographic location through Artificial Intelligence tools.
  • Seemingly innocuous granular information may be put together in a broader framework for deliberate tactical manoeuvring.
  • That’s at the heart of what Zhenhua itself flaunts as its role in “hybrid warfare.”

What’s hybrid warfare?

  • Hybrid warfare is a military strategy which employs political warfare and blends conventional warfare, irregular warfare and cyberwarfare with other influencing methods, such as fake news, diplomacy, lawfare and foreign electoral intervention.
  • By combining kinetic operations with subversive efforts, the aggressor intends to avoid attribution or retribution.
  • There is no universally-accepted definition of hybrid warfare that leads to some debate whether the term is useful at all.
  • As early as 1999, Unrestricted Warfare, a publication by China’s People’s Liberation Army, mapped the contours of hybrid warfare, a shift in the arena of violence from military to political, economic and technological. The new weapons in this war were those “closely linked to the lives of the common people.”
  • Indeed, within countries too, political parties target the opposition via these same tools.

Does this ‘monitoring’ flout any laws in India?

  • Under the Information Technology Rules, 2011, under the IT Act, 2000, personal data is “any information regarding a natural person, which either directly or indirectly, in combination with other information available or likely to be available is capable of identifying such person.”
  • This, however, does not include information available freely or accessible in the public domain.
  • These rules also do not impose any conditions on the use of personal data for direct marketing etc.
  • Many commercial entities access and aggregate such information for targeted advertisement.

What’s the concern over Zhinhua’s monitoring?

  • There has been a string of recent reports on China’s attempts to cultivate potential assets for sensitive military, intelligence or economic information in the US and Europe through social media.
  • Zhenhua uses the open information environment liberal democracies take for granted to target individuals and institutions.

-Source: Indian Economy


Focus: GS-II International Relations


  • The Foreign Ministers of India and China arrived at a ‘Five Points’ agreement to reduce the prevailing tension on the Ladakh border during their talks in Moscow on the sidelines of the SCO Summit.
  • This meeting between the two foreign ministers was an attempt to break the state of impasse as series of talks have taken place at multiple levels without yielding any results.

The escalation and de-escalation matrix

  • The genesis of the current stand-off was the aggression undertaken by the PLA in the form of incursions by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
  • While the political intent was to give a strong message to Delhi to kowtow Beijing’s interest, the military aim was to make quick territorial gains in the Depsang, Galwan and Pangong Tso area.
  • However, the situation remained regulated by talks at the military-diplomatic and political levels.
  • The de-escalation process starts with gradual disengagement of troops alongside the dismantling of war-waging infrastructure, pulling back, and finally withdrawal to the designated locations.

India-China five-point Action Plan

  1. Both sides should take guidance from the series of consensus of the leaders on developing India-China relations, including not allowing differences to become disputes.
  2. Both sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.
  3. Continue to have dialogue and communication through the Special Representative mechanism on the India-China boundary question.
  4. Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China border affairs (WMCC), should also continue its meetings.
  5. As the situation eases, the two sides should expedite work to conclude new Confidence Building Measures to maintain and enhance peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

Significance of 5-point action plan

It reiterates the process of dialogue, disengagement, and easing of the situation.

All this was comprehensively dealt with in the previous five agreements given below:

  1. The 1993 ‘Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility Agreement’ forms the basis of all followup agreements.
  2. 1996 ‘Confidence Building Measures’ denounced the use of force
  3. 2005 ‘Standard Operating Procedures’ and patrolling modalities.
  4. 2012 ‘Process of Consultation and Cooperation’
  5. 2013 ‘Border Cooperation Agreement’, signed as a sequel to Depsang intrusion by PLA

The moot point is their implementation as these have been violated by the PLA in pursuit of its “Nibble and Negotiate” strategy.

What should be India’s future strategy?

  • China has not been able to achieve its aims either politically or militarily due to India’s firm and resolute response.
  • The force level deployed by China in Aksai Chin with two strike divisions and 150 frontline fighter aircraft positioned on the forward bases belies Chinese intent to de-escalate.
  • Therefore, India must continue its proactive posture not only in Ladakh but across the complete length of LAC.
  • After all, it’s the position on the ground which will decide the trajectory of talks on the negotiations table.
  • Above all, we must insist on April 2020 status quo and make it clear to the Chinese that the border issue cannot be delinked from bilateral relations.

-Source: Indian Express


Focus: GS-II International Relations


  • The SCO was founded in June 2001, built on the ‘Shanghai Five’ grouping of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyz Republic) and Tajikistan, which had come together in the post-Soviet era in 1996, in order to work on regional security, reduction of border troops, and terrorism.
  • A particular goal all these years has been “conflict resolution”, given its early successes between China and Russia, and then within the Central Asian Republics.
  • According to its rules, the organisation has two permanent bodies — the SCO Secretariat based in Beijing and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent.
  • The SCO Secretary-General and the Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO RATS are appointed by the Council of Heads of State for a term of three years. 
  • The SCO also has four observer states — Afghanistan, Iran, Belarus and Mongolia — which may be inducted at a later date.

Main goals

The SCO describes its main goals, part of its Charter as:

  1. Strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states;
  2. Promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, economy, research and technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas;
  3. Making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region;
  4. Moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.


  • India and Pakistan joined the SCO as observers in 2005, and were admitted as full members in 2015.
  • Joining the SCO has been seen as one of the Indian government’s more significant yet puzzling foreign policy choices, as it came at a time that New Delhi was looking more keenly at the West, and in particular at the maritime ‘Quadrilateral’ with the U.S., Japan and Australia.
  • India has explained its membership in both ostensibly clashing groups as a part of its principles of “strategic autonomy and multi-alignment”.
  • Since 2014, India and Pakistan have cut all ties, talks and trade with each other, and India has refused to attend the SAARC summit due to tensions with Pakistan, but both their leaderships have consistently attended all meetings of the SCO’s three councils and other meetings as well.
  • Despite the fact that India accuses Pakistan of perpetrating cross-border terrorism at every other multilateral forum, at the SCO, Indian and Pakistani armed forces even take part in military and anti-terrorism exercises together, as part of the SCO-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.
  • In addition, the two countries are part of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, to discuss the course of Afghanistan’s future, an issue New Delhi and Islamabad are bitterly divided over.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024