China: Discipline

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June 22, 2006: China has, for the first time, threatened to halt essential fuel and food supplies if North Korea went ahead with a ballistic missile test. China has used this threat sparingly, because China is North Korea's most reliable supplier, and loss of these items could cause chaos in North Korea. China doesn't want that, because the result would be millions of North Korean refugees trying to get into northern China.

June 21, 2006: In the past week, China's Internet censors temporarily blocked access to China based search engines Sohu and Sina temporarily, apparently as punishment for failing a test of their ability to quickly remove material the government did not approve of. Political and military leaders are becoming increasingly upset and unhappy with the way unfavorable (to them) news rapidly spreads via the Internet. Thus the Internet censorship bureaucracy (over 30,000 strong) has been ordered to encourage competition among Internet companies (mainly ISPs and search engines) to improve their censorship abilities. Those firms that are less successful will be punished by being taken off line for hours, or days. This makes them less competitive, and costs them customers. Or so the theory goes. Years of effort, and billions of dollars spent, has not brought the Internet under control, and the web is a constant source of annoyance (or worse) to the government.

June 18, 2006: Taiwanese leader Chen Shui-bian is under increasing pressure to resign because of corruption accusations. Chen denies all, but, like his mainland counterparts, the illegal activities of family and friends is causing a loss of confidence and popularity.

June 17, 2006: After a week, the United States withdrew a terror warning to its citizens in China. The government was not happy with this warning, but the U.S. said it had evidence that Islamic terrorists might make attacks on Americans in China's major cities because of the death of al Qaeda leader Zarqawi in Iraq.

June 8, 2006: It came as something of a shock when a recent survey of illegal Internet activity (mainly spam and phishing attacks), found that 64 percent of the servers these attacks came from, were located in Taiwan. Only 23 percent were in the United States. The situation is temporary, the result of millions of new Taiwanese broadband customers. The home and office machines with this speedy Internet access have few defenses, and are easily turned into "zombies" by hackers, used mainly for pumping out massive amounts of spam. This is a defense issue, as it reveals how vulnerable Taiwan's Internet infrastructure is.

 

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