An international news media platform funded by China to build a favourable narrative is part of Pakistan’s information warfare, according to a concept paper on the Sino-Pak collaboration intercepted by Indian intelligence agencies.
The leaked documents that Indian agencies have laid their hands on from Pakistan’s security establishment show that Pakistan wants to collaborate with China to carry out an information war campaign globally, with Beijing providing finances and guidance.
The concept paper, reviewed by India Today, is titled ‘Building capacity to contest inimical narratives through counter on alternative narratives.’
The paper says the projects looks at truth and factual aspects with a view to quashing misperception.
Internal dynamics in Pakistan are favourable for open media but financial challenges are a hurdle, the paper says while justifying the need to team up with China.
“There is a need for a media house of the stature of Al Jazeera and RT to propel amenable narrative. A media house by Pakistan and funded by China will achieve the stipulated objectives,” the document states.
It adds that media experts of international stature may be hired.
While China and Pakistan don’t share a cultural or civilisational markers the concept paper talks of “two competitive thoughts at play, the clash of civilisation of West vs integration of civilisation of China”.
This comes amid constant reports of the persecution of the Muslim Uighur population in the Xinjiang region of China that Pakistan has always ignored, officials say.
In a recent Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping acknowledged the negative impact of their ‘wolf warrior’ diplomats’ targeted attacks on countries across the globe.
In the recent past, Pakistan wanted to collaborate with Turkey to set up an Islamic channel for portraying ‘correct Islamic values’ to the world. That project has been shelved due to lack of interest and energy from either parties, officials said.
Indian officials feel this project is an attempt to correct the image of Pakistan and that could also benefit China. “The very fact that financing is provided by China is proof enough that China intends to use this channel as a stepping stone to improve its image.”
The document further adds that China is competing with the West in technology and economy but is still catching up with the US. “In a social media dominated world, winning the battle of narratives is more important than physical battle,” it adds.
Pakistan-China team up for information warfare
Indian officials tracking cyber warfare say Pakistan in the past has been playing a role in peddling a pro-China narrative amid the border tension in Ladakh. There was an attempt to push a narrative that only a few Chinese soldiers were injured after the ugly clash in Galwan alley last year where 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
China’s collaboration with Pakistan is not restricted to procuring military equipment but is taking another shape and increasingly getting more strategic with sharing of space assets as well. China’s homegrown navigation system BeiDou will soon be used by Pakistan for both military and civil use.
Chinese Satellite Navigation Office (CSNO) has agreed to establish BeiDou-enabled Continuously Operating Radar Station (CORS) network in Pakistan for precise geo-spatial application, particularly in the field of surveying and mapping, construction and scientific studies.
Pakistan has been acquiring remote sensing satellites from China. Other than military assets, China-Pakistan defence cooperation has also been noticed in the information warfare domain. Pakistan has been getting assistance from China for cyber warfare as well.
Pakistan has been seeking Chinese cooperation in the field of cyber information assurance and cybersecurity domain. It wants Chinese assistance in monitoring the Internet and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
China is also facilitating Pakistan in building its all-around capability in the domain of cyber warfare by setting up of Information Security Lab under the National Electronics Complex of Pakistan.