China: Ministry of State Security (MSS)

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MSS in the News

China Cabls
The MSS program for controlling Xinjiang Province has sent thousands into forced labor factories, according to an Australian think tank. (Credit: Australian Strategic Policy Institute )


Agency of Social Control

China’s Ministry of State Security is responsible for the governments foreign intelligence and counterintelligence missions. Despite reports of internal turmoil, the Chinese intelligence has had numerous successes. In the field of economic espionage, the FBI considers China the biggest threat to the United States.

The MSS has a played a leading role in China’s vast campaign to diminish the identity and influence of the Uighur people in the western province of Xinjiang. The MSS has created systems of surveillance and re-education to achieve the government’s goals of social control and ethnic assimilation.

The U.S. government has blacklisted Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant that is suspected of creating or allowing security loopholes in its products for the benefit of Chinese intelligence.

Intelligence elements of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have also played a major role in Chinese intelligence via cyber intrusions  and human intelligence penetration of the U.S. Department of Defense  

In December 2018 U.S. prosecutors charged two MSS agents for their role in cyber-attacks against the United States. The men allegedly hacked into computers of technology companies such Hewlett-Packard and IBM, and government agencies such as NASA and the Department of the Navy. They stole technological secrets and gained access to service providers, enabling large-scale supply chain intrusions.

The MSS is highly secretive, but a string of defectors have shed some light on its inner workings. In 2017, Guo Wengui, a Chinese real estate tycoon claimed former MSS vice minister, Ma Jian had given gave him insider information. The incident resulted in the purging of many senior officials within the agency.

The director of the MSS is Chen Wenqing, appointed by President Xi in 2016.


Researcher: Brianna Taylor

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