China: We Are Bad And We Are Proud

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February 13, 2010:  While Western nations sound increasingly strident alarms over Chinese Internet based espionage, the Chinese government spends most of its (public) effort on the Internet trying to control what it considers bad behavior. In addition to shutting down thousands of pornography sites, and arresting hundreds of the people behind this thriving industry, the government thought police are also after cell phone users who text dirty to each other. Later this year, the online gaming industry (most of it clandestine, or dominated by criminal gangs) will get the treatment. This obsession with controlling behavior appears to serve other purposes. The population gets a reminder that the state controls the net-world, and that cell phones are not safe from scrutiny by the secret police. But this government exercise in control backfired, as the bureaucrats found most Chinese Internet users less protected from spies than users in the West. If other nations did the same kind of snooping in China, that Chinese Cyber Warriors have been doing in the West, Chinese users will suffer much more, because of their greater vulnerability.

Taiwan's retired spies have been publically reminded to stay out of China. The Chinese have long memories, and apparently there are plans to kidnap elderly, and nostalgic, retired Taiwanese spies who might slip into China to visit the ancestral village, or whatever. "Don't do it", the Taiwanese spy chief warns.

Another reason to not visit China is the growing Cold War attitude there. The government has, for decades, used nationalism (appealing to popular sentiment about China being strong and powerful) to keep people from dwelling on government corruption and incompetence. That has worked a bit too well, with recent opinion polls showing the majority of the population wants China to be more forceful with other countries that refuse to do what China tells them to do. There is also public support for doing the opposite of whatever the West demands. That means supporting dictators, if there's a profit to be made. Like selling weapons to Iran. China already does this secretly, but most Chinese believe it should be done openly and proudly.

Attempts to control government corruption in China continue to fail, and public anger grows. Some officials are pointing out that the corruption is often encouraged by government policies. For example, the retirement benefits for senior officials have not kept up with the times, and senior officials can't help but notice that corrupt officials have much nicer retirement lifestyles than their honest counterparts.

February 9, 2010: Taiwan has dropped its long standing request to buy eight submarines from the United States. This was always a problem, because the U.S. no longer builds non-nuclear powered subs. U.S. Navy officials had told the Taiwanese government that European firms had been found who would collaborate with the U.S. to build the eight diesel-electric submarines. No European country was willing to build subs directly with Taiwan, for fear of offending China. The U.S. stopped building diesel-electric subs half a century ago, but American and Europeans sub builders were on good terms, and a sale is a sale, no matter how many middlemen it has to go through. Some were dubious of this arrangement, and apparently with some justification.

February 8, 2010;  China announced the arrest of three men running a blatant online school for criminal hackers. In addition to online instruction, in person training and consulting could be arranged as well. While the government often refuses to crack down on Chinese hackers, that's because they belong to the unofficial, but very real, hacker militia the government uses for a lot of its Internet dirty work. Any hackers operating outside the government approved network are subject to being shut down.

February 2, 2010: China is going to forgive 80 percent of Iraq's $8.5 billion Saddam era (pre-2003) debt. Then, as now, China has been eager to do business in Iraq, and willing to do whatever was necessary to make that happen. This helpful attitude has made Chinese businesses popular throughout the Arab world and Africa, and anywhere a "no questions asked" attitude was appreciated.

January 29, 2010:  China suspended military exchanges with the United States, to protest the U.S. approving the sale of $6.4 billion worth of weapons to Taiwan. China had threatened economic and other sanctions, but backed off when their trade experts pointed out that this sort of thing would likely backfire on China, which is so dependent on trade, and industrial goods from the United States.

 

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