Moscow: Ever since Ukraine rejected the Chinese bid to buy a major stake in the Ukrainian aviation company Motor Sich and imposed sanctions on Chinese individuals and entities involved in the deal, Beijing has reportedly employed covert tactics to acquire Ukrainian military technology.

Some experts believe in the fact that China is carrying out tech theft in cahoots with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which may be interested in doing away with importing the tank engines from Ukraine.

In one of his blogs for the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), political analyst Valerio Fabbri writes how Chinese intelligence is shrouded in mystery. Even security experts are often in the dark about its functioning.

Unlike the traditional way of employing professional spies, Beijing uses the "Thousand Grains of Sand" technique to utilize Chinese students, academicians studying and working abroad, tourists and even companies for intelligence collection.

According to Fabbri, Chinese intelligence relies on a huge global social system, a non-professional and informal intelligence network that provides information in areas of Beijing's priorities in military, socio-political and economic sectors.

Last year, the Ukrainian intelligence service (SBU) detained a foreign citizen in the Eastern city of Kharkiv, who was operating under the cover of a public organisation.

That man was allegedly carrying out espionage activities to obtain classified information in the field of material science for military purposes.

"Although the SBU never disclosed the nationality of the foreign citizen, photos taken during the search and later released by the SBU show ID cards with the words 'Sino-Ukrainian Centre in the Russian language. All bring to believe that the arrested person is a Chinese citizen, who reportedly worked under the cover of the public organisation 'China-Ukraine Centre' for Economic and Cultural Cooperation, operating in the city since 2007," Fabbri said.

Kharkiv has significant relevance for China, as it is home to Ukrainian enterprises dealing with defence technology including tank engines and other hardware. Notably, China supplies Ukrainian T-80UD engines to Pakistan, which are then used in Pakistani manufactured Al-Khalid-series tanks.

Not only that, Sino-Pakistani VT-1A tanks use 6TD-2 engines also produced by the Kharkiv-based enterprise.

Against this backdrop, Fabbri argued that Ukraine should perhaps take note of Chinese mechanisations and strengthen accordingly its counter-intelligence apparatus.

More so in light of the fact that the US main security challenge is China indeed, as the latest developments in the standoff between Kiev and Moscow indicate, he added.