China: Explosions In The Distance


August 17,2008:  China now has the largest Internet population, with 253 million users. The U.S. is second with 223 million users. While 70 percent of Americans are online, only about 20 percent of Chinese are. Current growth trends indicate that, in the next few years, China will have over half a billion users. A greater proportion (than in the West) of Chinese users get online via Internet cafes or from work. China's Internet environment is much different than the American one. The Chinese Internet is heavily policed, with over 30,000 cyber cops blocking content that is considered hostile to the communist dictatorship that has run the country for the last 60 years. Chinese who say the wrong thing on message boards, chat rooms or email, are subject to detection and punishment. Not so much for cyber criminals. Some 52 percent of the Internet based criminality can be traced to China (versus 21 percent to the United States). It is believed that the Chinese government tolerates the cyber criminals, as long as these black hat geeks do espionage, and Cyber War tasks for the government.

August 12, 2008: In northwest China, near Kuqa, a group of men attacked a police checkpoint, killing three policemen with knives.  

August 9, 2008: In northwest China, in a rural area occupied largely by Moslem Uighurs, fifteen Islamic terrorists launched a series of attacks in Kuqa. Rifles and homemade bombs were used. One policeman and ten terrorists were killed. Two other terrorists were captured. This attacks were 3,000 kilometers from the capital, and the government feared that the terrorists will make a serious effort to do something in the capital.

August 4, 2008: Islamic terrorists in western China used bombs or grenades to kill sixteen policemen. The terrorists had threatened attacks in Beijing, but todays attacks were 4,000 kilometers west of the capital, in the city of Kashgar.

August 1, 2008: Despite earlier promises to Olympics officials, that the 20,000 foreign reporters attending the games would have free access to the Internet, the government had to admit that it's Internet security force (the "Great Firewall of China" or, in Chinese, "the Golden Wall Project") had not got the word. At first the government tried to stonewall the Olympic officials and journalists, but the media pressure proved too great. The government relented, and allowed the foreign journalists complete (almost) access to the Internet during the games.

July 30, 2008: In an effort to reduce the risk of embarrassing mining accidents while all those foreign journalists are in the capital during the Olympics, about three percent of the most accident prone coal mining operations have been shut down. Normally, about 4,000 coal miners a year are killed. Some 80 percent of the nation's electricity plants are run on coal, and this safety/PR cutback has caused electricity rationing in 14 provinces.

July 28, 2008: North Koreans living in northern China were panicked by rumors that China would close all the bridges between North Korea and China, as part of the Olympics counter-terror effort. The rumor was triggered by increased efforts to keep starving and desperate North Korean from sneaking, or bribing their way, into China. The additional Chinese troops and police being moved to the border are not too worried about terrorists, nor are the North Koreans trying to get into China. China is mainly concerned about millions of desperate North Koreans trying to get into China if the government in North Korea completely collapses.

July 26, 2008: Uighur (Turks living in western China) Islamic separatists (the Turkistan Islamic Party, or TIP) have claimed (via a video released on the Internet) credit for six bombings that have taken place in China over the last three months. This was done as part of a threat to make more attacks in Beijing during the Olympics. Chinese police countered that the Uighur groups had nothing to do with the other attacks, and is not capable of doing any damage in Beijing next month.

July 25, 2008: After three months disaster relief duty in central China, the army is beginning to withdraw the 130,000 troops who were quickly sent there. Over 80,000 people were killed in the mid-May earthquakes, and millions made homeless. About a third of the troops will be gone back to their barracks by the end of the month. The rest will follow by the end of the year. Chinese troops are typically used for disaster relief, and responded quickly for the May disaster. But this was one of the larger deployments ever, with over six percent of armed forces personnel sent in.

July 21, 2008: Corrupt practices by local officials are leading to more violent protests. In southwestern China (Yunan province), over a thousand rubber tree farmers rioted over local officials ordering that the farmers sell their crop to them, at 40 percent less than the market price. This attempt by local officials to steal most of the farmers profits enraged the locals. The violence left two dead and over fifty wounded, as the police fired on the rioters.

After nearly have a century of hostility, China and Russia have settled disputes over exactly where their border is. As part of the deal, Russia returns two islands in the Amur river, and China dropped claims on some other river islands.

July 20, 2008: The Chinese government has deployed 100,000 police and troops in Beijing for counter-terrorism duty. About a third of the force is from the army. A counter-terrorism pamphlet was distributed to millions of Beijing residents, who are also eager to prevent any terrorist from taking place in their city, especially during the August 8-24 Olympics. This is probably the most formidable weapon the government has, making it difficult for Islamic terrorists to move into and around the city to set up any attacks.




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