China: The Secret Policeman's Bawl

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October 31,2008: The current food tainting scandal in China (the illegal addition of an industrial chemical to boost protein levels in diluted foods) is growing. In addition to at least four dead babies, and over 100,000 sick ones (from tainted baby formula), it was revealed that pet food was heavily tainted as well (even after a scandal over tainted dog food being exported to the United States last year), leading to the death of over a thousand pet dogs. Newly affluent Chinese are buying more animals as pets, and are not happy about government incompetence and corruption killing their beloved puppies. On the positive side (for the government) the secret police are taking credit for keeping a lid on the current tainted food scandal until the August Olympic Games were over. For months before the games began on August 8th, there were complaints about possible food contamination. The mass media can be ordered to sit on a story (on pain of prison, or worse), but keeping it away from the Internet is more difficult. Over 200 million Internet users are difficult to control, not to mention more than twice as many cell phone users. Between the Internet police and the "Propaganda Department" (which controls all media, and can order any story to be run, to smothered), the tainted food story was kept from spreading until the Olympics. But the secret police could not contain the story much after that, and now it's out of control. The Propaganda Party is still trying to use its censors and spin masters to limit the damage, but without much success.

On Taiwan, pro-independence groups (which have the support of at least a third of the 23 million Taiwanese) are becoming more active in protesting against Chinese officials. One Chinese diplomat was recently mobbed by protestors and pushed to the ground. Such officials are constantly followed and heckled by pro-independence activists. Opening up personal and commercial relations with China is opposed by the pro-independence groups, as they see China using that to weaken Taiwanese defenses. A prime example is a recent proposal to allow commercial air flights to take the most direct (shortest distance) flights to Taiwan from China. The Taiwanese Air Force opposes allowing this, as this air space is the best route for attacking Chinese bombers. If opened to commercial flights, China could use these civilian aircraft as a mask for a military attack.

In Taiwan, the former head of National Intelligence was arrested for embezzlement four years ago. Back then, the accused requested half a million dollars for a secret operation, which had already been completed. The money was delivered in the form of travelers checks, and some of those were later found to have been cashed at a gambling casino.

China has succeeded in getting the United States to try and stop Taiwan from manufacturing 300 of a new, 600 kilometer range, cruise missile. This was done by insisting that the Hsiung Feng 2E missile was an offensive weapon (the U.S. has agreed, in a deal with the Chinese, to sell only defensive weapons to Taiwan). Thus the U.S. will not allow the export of some key components needed for the missile. Taiwan can get the components elsewhere, but it will take longer and cost more.

October 26, 2008: In Sudan, an attempt to rescue nine Chinese oil field technicians, who were kidnapped by Darfur rebels over a week ago, resulted in five of the hostages being killed. The many rebel groups in Sudan see China as an important ally of the government (which is run by racist Islamic fundamentalists who have persecuted non-Moslem and non-Arab Sudanese, which led to the rebellions). Throughout Africa, China is seen as the tyrants friend, willing to supply weapons and trade deals to any dictator, if the terms are right. This has led to a growing anti-Chinese sentiment throughout Africa.

October 25, 2008: China and Vietnam have agreed to negotiate a settlement to their long standing dispute over who owns which of the tiny Spratly Islands (most of which are just rocks,  uninhabited, and uninhabitable). There have been some skirmishes between Chinese and Vietnamese naval forces because of this issue.

October 17, 2008: Taiwanese intelligence officials believe that China has created a form of the SARS virus that can be used as a biological weapon. This would be a violation of the Biological Weapons Convention, which most nations have signed. The Taiwanese officials insist that UN inspectors are aware of the weaponized SARS.

 

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