Everybody Spies: China's Foreign Intelligence Apparatus Yesterday and Today

kutsutilaisuus · SEMINAR · 04.09.2023 14:00 - 15:00


Beijing’s espionage apparatus collects foreign intelligence in ways that are similar to those of other nations but with some unique characteristics. Yet, its history and modus operandi, both historically and today, are even less known to the Western public than those of the Western and Russian intelligence apparatus that are often popularised in cultural products.

Matthew Brazil, a specialist in the history and modern operations of China’s intelligence services, will in his presentation discuss a hypothesis on why the activities of the Chinese Communist Party’s early intelligence organs are important for understanding its operations today. He will also analyse how Chinese espionage practices and organisations evolved during Mao Zedong’s reign (until 1976) and in the post-Mao period. Finally, he will also discuss the expanded role of Chinese intelligence since 2000.



Matt Brazil

China analyst, BluePath Labs, LLC

Matthew Brazil is a China analyst for BluePath Labs, LLC, and a contributor to SpyTalk, an online newsletter. He pursued Chinese studies as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, as an Army officer with tours in Korea and NSA, and as a graduate student at Harvard in their Regional Studies East Asia program. After a stint as the China specialist for the Commerce Department’s Office of Export Enforcement, he was assigned as a Commercial Officer with the U.S. Embassy, Beijing, where he both promoted and controlled U.S. high-technology exports to China.

Afterwards, Brazil spent 20 years as a security professional, performing investigations in China for a chip manufacturer, and leading the development of a security organization in China for an American specialty chemicals firm. His PhD dissertation at the University of Sydney (2013) described the place in the Chinese Communist Party of their intelligence organs. That and further research led to his contribution as the coauthor of Chinese Communist Espionage, An Intelligence Primer (2019). Matt is also the author of the China chapter in the Handbook of Asian Intelligence Cultures (2022). His next book concerns Beijing’s contemporary worldwide espionage and influence offensive.


Jyrki Kallio

Senior Research Fellow, FIIA

Jyrki Kallio is Senior Research Fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs and holds the Title of Docent in International Relations and Chinese Studies at the University of Lapland. His research foci include Chinese political culture and foreign policy, and regional issues in East Asia. He has a special interest in the instrumentalisation of traditional schools of thought in East Asian politics, and in addition to his research, has translated classical Chinese philosophy and prose.

He received the J.A. Hollo Prize for his work in 2015, and his latest monograph, “A critical reader on Confucianism”, was published by Gaudeamus in 2022. Previously, he served the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland as a diplomat. He holds degrees of MSocSc (International Relations) and PhD (Chinese Society Studies).


Elina Sinkkonen

Senior Research Fellow, FIIA

Elina Sinkkonen is a Senior Research Fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs and holds the Title of Docent in East Asian Studies, specifically East Asian Politics, at the University of Turku. Her research interests include great power relations, authoritarian regimes, regional security in East Asia, Chinese nationalism, public opinion issues in China and domestic-foreign policy nexus in IR theory. Sinkkonen’s ongoing research is linked with the Academy of Finland funded project ForAc (foreign acquisitions and political retaliation as threats to supply security in an era of strategic decoupling).

Sinkkonen’s work has been published in Political Psychology, Democratization, The China Quarterly, The Pacific Review, European Review of International Studies and European Foreign Affairs Review, among others. She received her doctorate from the University of Oxford at the Department of Politics and International Relations. Her co-edited book on the new roles of women in Chinese society won the 2016 Kanava prize, which is given to the best Finnish book in the fields of politics, society, economics, history or culture.