Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chinese Government, China Radio International Noticeably Quiet On Topic of BBC and VOA Interference

Keeping a watch on Chinese government sites and especially their state broadcasters such as China Radio International (CRI) has been interesting to say the least. Yesterday's piece about the facts and profile of BBC and VOA interference performed by the Chinese Government was just the start of a series of pieces here that will talk about, tease apart, and analyze the Chinese Government war against foreign broadcasts.

On the CRI website yesterday, it was noticed that the chinese Government would easily release information about three pending executions of convicted murderers by lethal injection, but in the heat of a widespread international conversation on international press freedom, CRI, CCTV, and the Chinese Government have been noticeably quiet. Although there have been some suspicions that Iran or Libya could be involved in malicious interference, experienced residents of those countries who regularly monitor shortwave frequencies have said now as in the past that neither Iran, nor Libya, would ever be able to act with the sort of strong efficiency we see in this round and pattern of interference.

An overnight session of monitoring the CRI English Service from February 27th, 2013 to February 28th, 2013 had negative results in respect to mentions or reference to BBC or VOA broadcasts, nor were there any mentions on any programs of China being active in any sort of media campaign. This does not seem to point to innocence on China's part, however. There is actually consistency and corroboration to the rumor that secret orders were handed down to reign in foreign broadcasters as mentioned in yesterday's piece, and this corroboration comes directly from China's silence.

Over the many ages of Chinese Government having the sort of structure and rule they have, the telling statements of guilt has always been their silence, and as we all know, silence speaks a thousand words! Chinese Government has engaged in one consistent practice of behavior that forms the modus operandi we all have become so accustomed to. Within the pattern of behavior is where the real story is told and analysis can be done.

A Wikipedia entry on the topic says the following:

Since broadcasting began in 1996, Chinese authorities have consistently jammed Radio Free Asia broadcasts.[4] In 2002, the Broadcasting Board of Governors reported that "that virtually all of VOA's and RFA's shortwave radio transmissions directed to China [...] are jammed," including their Mandarin, Cantonese, Tibetan, and Uyghur language services.[5]
In 2008, the Oslo-based Voice of Tibet reported that jamming of its radio communications intensified during the 2008 Tibetan unrest, as authorities increased the number of disrupted signals it employed to block outside transmissions.[1]
Other targets for jamming include the BBC World Service, and Sound of Hope radio network.[6]


In 2011, some international radio broadcasters, including the BBC and VOA, announced plans to scale down or close their Mandarin shortwave service for China due to spending cuts and frustrations caused by jamming efforts[7][8] BBC and VOA instead chose to invest more heavily in internet radio; both received financial support from the U.S. Department of State to fund and research internet censorship-circumvention software, such as Freegate and Ultrasurf, to enable their Chinese audience to access their programs online.[9][10]
Broadcasters have also sought to educate their audiences on the use of anti-jamming technology.[11]

One correction to this article has to be made: China has been broadcasting since before 1996, so, perhaps there needs to be some clarity that it was Firedrake interference that started being broadcast in 1996??

As of the last 24 hours, one of the most respected, expert, radio monitors in the world said something that tells us in great detail exactly what is going on! Here is that quote:

"The Beam is on slightly South of Oman and the BBC is in the clear with weak jamming underneath and as I start to turn the beam towards the East BBC drops and the Jamming comes on top and I settle on about 20 degrees East of North. The Jamming is clearing coming from China NOT Iran. The S metre drop just 5db from 15db over 9 and stays that way." 

Here is a recording of THAT instance in the last 24 hours taken on the following date, time, and frequency: BBC World Service Frequency 17.790.2 Khz - February 28th 2013 - 9.46.56 AM (Time Zone Witheld)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

China Starts Communications Media War - Targets BBC and VOA Broadcasts

Just when everyone got used to hearing Firedrake, China's most well known music used to maliciously interfere with foreign broadcasters, the world has been hearing THIS! The recording was made on 17790khz at 0706UTC. Date: February 27, 2013. This recording is one sample of many that are now floating around radio communications circles.

The sound you hear in the recording resembles one of several digital communication modes  that can be heard across the high frequency bands from 160meters (1800Khz) to about 10meters (28500Khz) and usually in SSB (Single Side-Band) mode. What you are hearing is someone knowingly, willfully, and maliciously interfering with international broadcast services.

At first, it seemed as though the BBC was the only victim of this nasty behavior, but the VOA (Voice of America) has also been a target of a well organized and well-resourced country. The guess at this time, given the timing of these instances of interference is that the malicious radio interference is originating from China.

"The BBC said that while it is not possible to know who is doing the jamming, "the extensive and co-ordinated efforts are indicative of a well-resourced country such as China." says an article at VOA's website. The BBC is incorrect that there is no way to know who is performing the illegal and malicious broadcast interference. Triangulation and other RF Direction Finding techniques are available. There has been no news about if the BBC and / or the VOA are seeking such remedies.

Consistent with the recordings out here of the now famous malicious interference which has affected just about every part of the world on the shortwave bands, VOA says this:

"At VOA headquarters in Washington, engineers say that while the agency's Chinese-language broadcasts are routinely jammed in China, its English broadcasts usually are not. They noticed the jamming of the English programs about a month ago and say it appears to use a new technology."

The technology being used is not new, but is a combination of digital modes based on something similar to RTTY and possibly SSTV. Shortwave America is making efforts to identify this mode and how it was written in an attempt to decode it to see if there is anything such as a message or other identifiers being sent in the data stream. Even if there are only zeros and ones being carried, it tells us something about who wrote this digital mode, what their mindset was, what their technical abilities are, and might even tell us about the sort of equipment being used. Just like when police use ballistics to test bullets, we in the communications circles can do a sort of analysis of these signals to identify specific characteristics of it.
This specific digital mode is definitely military in nature because of the wobbly weebly sound that is heard in the recordings. If you scan across the HF bands in any mode, you can hear a digital mode that has nothing but THAT "wobbly weebly" make up to it. It's simply a shifting of tones which is a variance of phase shift keying with data attached to it. Now, listening further, you can hear what almost sounds like a characteristic of what we have known for decades as the "Russian Buzzer"; only it's in a fast high pitch that comes in bursts of sound in a 1-2-3 beat pattern.

All of these details of the mode being used would tend to indicate someone who has knowledge of radio technical arts specific to digital, data, ciphers, code writing and decoding, transmitter and antenna capabilities in high-power environments, antenna radiation patterns, signal propagation, and communications warfare. The offender is going to be a male between 30 and 50 years old, has a background in high level government communications with military experience, holds a certification or license for radio work, likely has an electronics degree or holds advanced mathematics understanding whether documented by an educational institution or not.

The offender is operating voluntarily as opposed to being under duress due to the sort of time and concentration needed to create and then pre-record the digital product. Those affected should know that this is going to be someone of either an Asian or Middle-Eastern culture who holds communist or other extreme beliefs. It appears to be a fact that whoever is performing this interference is someone specifically assigned to run the sound on a repeating loop until the program being interfered with is over, or someone who is actively sitting by a receiver and operating the signal direct from a single site.

Since China has recently had a change in administration, it would make sense if this is someone wanting to show the higher leadership that they have foreign broadcasting under control, someone who wants to project a favorable image to higher leadership. This would be consistent with comments made on certain internet sites who carried the story of the targeted BBC/VOA interference to programs directed to the East and Southeast regions. The comments are pro-Chinese Government, communist in nature / tone, and openly sympathizes with such. This observation of comments and comment posting behavior at these websites was made by retired RNW member, Andy Sennitt.

According to Keith Perron at PCJ Radio: 

"They are very easy to spot. 1st: They always spew out pro-communist propaganda, 2nd: If you check their history you will see they only signed up after the news story was published, 3rd The way they write. You can check out various comments areas from different news sites both television, print and youtube with stories related to China and you will notice the same key words that pop up. Someone at CNN International they get thousands of posting a month like this."

Shortwave America has learned from PCJ that the Chinese Government employs upwards of 300,000 special agents who do nothing but internet police work aimed at censoring web based communications and creating propaganda. This includes posting their propaganda on internet sites, and comments sections of internet sites with phony accounts.

More information from PCJ says that Sina Weibo has had postings that reveal english broadcasts that were free from interference along with the frequencies and times.

Additionally, an anonymous source inside China says word has gotten around that there is indeed an uncomfirmed order to "prevent certain unfriendly broadcasters no matter the language from being heard in China". Victor Goonetileke has THIS RECORDING from February 26th, 2013 on 15155Khz in AM mode at 0059:55UTC.

Now it can be asserted factually that China is indeed the culprit behind this malicious interference by weight of evidence alone, and that they are using not one, but two different digital modes to interfere with international media broadcasts. Performing RF direction finding and triangulation would only confirm this as a formality.

Other links of interest in this on-going saga: 

U.K. Guardian: BBC Condemns China's 'deliberate' jamming of world service broadcasts

BBC Statement regarding interference to BBC World Service Broadcasts

BBC China Crew Detained By Chinese Military After Filming Cyber-Warfare Headquarters

Shortwave America will have more on the renewed Chinese war against foreign communications as it develops.