samedi 16 décembre 2017

Chinese aggressions

China has continued to militarise disputed islands in the South China Sea by installing high-frequency radars while the world has been distracted by the North Korean nuclear crisis
By NICOLE STINSON

It comes military expert Li Jie warned that China has started preparing its military to support North Korea if World War 3 breaks out with the US.
And now satellite images reveal Chinese activity has been detected on the Spratly and Paracel islands, contested with several other Asian nations, spanning 72 acres (29 hectares).
Over the last several months China has constructed what appears to be a new high-frequency radar array at the northern end of Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratlys, according to a report by the Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Maritime Initiative.
Subi Reef has seen tunnels built which the expert believe may be used for ammunition.
The think tank also believes Chinese tunnels are potentially hiding another radar antenna array and radar domes.
China has continued to militarise disputed islands in the South China Sea by installing radars

Meanwhile construction on Mischief Reef includes underground storage for ammunition and hangars, missile shelters and radar arrays.
Smaller-scale work had continued in the Paracel Islands, including a new helipad and wind turbines on Tree Island and two large radar towers on Triton Island.
Triton Island has been at the centre of recent tension between China and Vietnam and the site of multiple US Navy drills.
The operations by the US Navy have been used assert what it sees as its right to free passage in international waters.
Woody Island, China's military and administrative headquarters in the South China Sea, saw two first-time air deployments "that hint at things to come at the three Spratly Island air bases farther south”, according to the report.
At the end of October, the Chinese military released images showing J-11B fighters at Woody Island for exercises, while on November 15, AMTI spotted what appeared to be Y-8 transport planes, a type that can be configured for electronic surveillance.
The US and its allies – including the UK – have condemned China's building of artificial islands in the South China Sea and their militarisation.
But China has hit back claiming the construction is “peaceful” and “completely normal”.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said: "It's completely normal for China to conduct peaceful construction and build essential defence equipment on its own sovereign territory.
"We believe certain people who have ulterior motives are making mountains out of molehills and stirring up trouble."
A new helipad and wind turbines on Tree Island
China has constructed what appears to be a new high-frequency radar array on Fiery Cross
The Pentagon has conducted several patrols near Chinese-held South China Sea territory this year, even as it has sought China's help in northeast Asia to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated a call for a "freeze" in China's island building and said it was unacceptable to continue their militarisation.
Last week the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted military exercises along the North Korean border sparking speculation Beijing was preparing a war breaking out between the US and North Korea.
Construction on Mischief Reef includes underground storage for ammunition and missile shelters
The fear of war between the two countries has risen over the past several months after China’s neighbour carried out a number of illegal missile tests and threatened to target the US territory of Guam with a nuclear missile.
Following the announcement regarding China’s new military drills, military expert Li Jie has given her verdict as to who the country would side within any future conflict.

Rogue Nation

A CONSTRUCTIVE YEAR FOR CHINESE BASE BUILDING
ASIA MARITIME TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE

International attention has shifted away from the slow-moving crisis in the South China Sea over the course of 2017, but the situation on the water has not remained static. 
While pursuing diplomatic outreach toward its Southeast Asian neighbors, Beijing continued substantial construction activities on its dual-use outposts in the Spratly and Paracel Islands. 
China completed the dredging and landfilling operations to create its seven new islands in the Spratlys by early 2016, and seems to have halted such operations to expand islets in the Paracels by mid-2017. 
But Beijing remains committed to advancing the next phase of its build-up—construction of the infrastructure necessary for fully-functioning air and naval bases on the larger outposts.
AMTI has identified all the permanent facilities on which China completed or began work since the start of the year. 
These include buildings ranging from underground storage areas and administrative buildings to large radar and sensor arrays. 
These facilities account for about 72 acres, or 290,000 square meters, of new real estate at Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs in the Spratlys, and North, Tree, and Triton Islands in the Paracels. This does not include temporary structures like storage containers or cement plants, or work other than construction, such as the spreading of soil and planting of grass at the new outposts.

Fiery Cross Reef

Fiery Cross saw the most construction over the course of 2017, with work on buildings covering 27 acres, or about 110,000 square meters. 
This counts work previously documented by AMTI, including completion of the larger hangars alongside the airstrip, work on large underground structures at the south of the island likely intended to house munitions or other essential materiel, a large communications/sensor array at the northeast end of the island, various radar/communications facilities spread around the islet, and hardened shelters for missile platforms at the south end.

The large underground tunnels AMTI identified earlier this year as likely being for ammunition and other storage have been completed and entirely buried. 
They join other underground structures previously built on the island, which include water and fuel storage.

In addition to the work previously identified at Fiery Cross, in the last several months China has constructed what appears to be a high frequency radar array at the north end of the island. 
It consists of a field of upright poles, similar to those erected at Cuarteron Reef in 2015. 
This high-frequency radar is situated next to the large communications/sensor array completed earlier in the year (the field of radomes in the image below).


Subi Reef

Subi Reef also saw considerable building activity in 2017, with work on buildings covering about 24 acres, or 95,000 square meters. 
This included buried storage facilities identical to those at Fiery Cross, as well as previously-identified hangars, missile shelters, radar/communications facilities, and a high-frequency “elephant cage” antenna array for signals intelligence at the southwest end of the island.

Like at Fiery Cross, the new storage tunnels at Subi were completed and covered over in the last few months. They join other buried structures on the islet, including large storage facilities to the north.

China is poised to substantially boost its radar and signals intelligence capabilities at Subi Reef. 
Since mid-year, it has built what looks like a second “elephant cage” less than 500 meters west of the first, as well as an array of radomes on the southern end of the outpost that appears similar to, if smaller than, the one on Fiery Cross Reef.



Mischief Reef

This year construction was undertaken on buildings covering 17 acres, or 68,500 square meters, of Mischief Reef. 
Like at Fiery Cross and Subi, this included underground storage for ammunition and other materiel, the completion of hangars and missile shelters, and new radar and communications arrays.

The new storage tunnels at Mischief were completed over the last several months and have been buried, joining previously-built underground structures to the north.

In addition to previously-identified structures, China has started work on a new radar/communications array on the north side of the outpost.

China has continued construction, though on a smaller scale, at its bases in the Paracel Islands. 
The most significant of this work in 2017 was at North, Tree, and Triton Islands.

Tree Island


Like North Island, dredging and reclamation work at Tree Island continued as late as mid-2017. 
In total, China built facilities covering about 1.7 acres, or 6,800 square meters, of the island. These included a new helipad next to the harbor and solar arrays and a pair of wind turbines on the north shore of the island.

North Island

China had earlier tried to connect North Island to neighboring Middle Island, but gave up the project after the land bridge it created was washed out by a storm in October 2016. 
Earlier this year, it built a retaining wall around the remaining reclaimed land at the southern end of North Island and built a large administrative building on the feature.

Triton Island

Triton Island saw completion of a few buildings this year, including two large radar towers, which are especially important given that Triton is the southwestern-most of the Paracels and the waters around it have been the site of several recent incidents between China and Vietnam, as well as multiple U.S. freedom of navigation operations.

Woody Island
Woody Island is China’s military and administrative headquarters in the South China Sea. Developments at Woody are usually a precursor to those at Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief in the Spratlys. 
There was no substantial new construction at the island this year, but it did see two first-time air deployments that hint at things to come at the three Spratly Island airbases farther south.
First, at the end of October, the Chinese military released images showing People’s Liberation Army Air Force J-11B fighters deployed to Woody Island for exercises. 
This was the first confirmed deployment of J-11s to Woody. 
Previous deployments to the island involved the less-advanced People’s Liberation Army Navy J-10, which is what AMTI has used as a basis—perhaps too conservatively—to estimate Chinese power projection capabilities from its South China Sea bases.


Then on November 15, AMTI spotted several large planes that appear to be Y-8 transport aircraft, which in certain configurations are capable of electronic intelligence gathering. 
AMTI earlier noted that the larger hangars built at each of the Spratly airbases could accommodate Y-8s, suggesting their presence at Woody could be a sign of things to come.

vendredi 15 décembre 2017

Chinese Subversion

Australian Concerns About Chinese Political Influence Reach Washington
by JOHN HAYWARD

Australia's Manchurian Senator: Sam Dastyari
The saga of Australian Senator Sam Dastyari, whose career has been severely damaged by allegations of improper contact with a Chinese billionaire, reached Washington, DC this week as a bipartisan U.S. commission investigated Chinese political influence around the world.
The American commission was headed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who described the Dastyari case as “accusations made that, not only had he tipped off a Chinese national of some intelligence operation being conducted against him, but that he had received cash from a wealthy Chinese national.”
Dastyari, once a rising star in Australian politics, resigned from his leadership positions after the scandal broke. 
This week, he announced he would quit the Senate entirely, citing the damage his continued presence was inflicting upon the Labor Party.
“Senator Rubio noted China’s tactics appeared to be focused on cultivating influential political and academic figures, which differed from Russia’s campaign of spreading messages on Twitter during last year’s presidential election,” Australia’s ABC News reports.
Testimony provided to the commission warned of the Chinese government’s efforts to use higher education and Chinese-language media as vehicles for spreading its political ideology, in the United States as well as Australia.
They are able, through, for example, the Confucius Institutes, to promote a particular view of China and to close out discussion of certain topics on campus,” said Dr. Glenn Tiffert, a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. 
Use of the Confucius Institute for this purpose is explored in the award-winning documentary In the Name of Confucius
China has established hundreds of CI branches around the world.

Also discussed at the hearing was the United Front Work Department, a Chinese Communist Party agency that exports China’s ideology and seeks to develop subversive relationships with officials in other governments.
“This is an issue that merits greater attention from U.S. policymakers,” said Rubio. 
“Chinese government foreign influence operations, which exist in free societies around the globe, are intended to censor critical discussion of China’s history and human rights record and to intimidate critics of its repressive policies.”
“Attempts by the Chinese government to guide, buy, or coerce political influence and control discussion of ‘sensitive’ topics are pervasive, and pose serious challenges in the United States and our like-minded allies,” he warned. 
Examples he provided of this influence included the suppression of academic papers, Internet communications, and even Hollywood movies that displease Beijing.
Shanthi Kalathil, Director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy, testified before the commission that China’s influence operations include hundreds of millions of government-fabricated social media posts each year to influence online discourse.
Kalathil warned that telecommunications infrastructure built by China in the developing world could become part of its international political influence operation, and it is moving to acquire heavy financial stakes and operational influence in key global applications and Internet services.
Kalathil said: 
"These technological advances dovetail with the government’s efforts to shape the Internet and other future technologies through key Internet governance bodies and discussions. 
"The Chinese government’s initially derided attempt to direct this conversation, the recently concluded World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, succeeded this year in attracting high-level Silicon Valley participation. 
"Importantly, it established the optic that the world’s leading technology firms have blessed China’s approach to the Internet".
Officials in Beijing revealed on Thursday that the Australian ambassador to China, Jan Adams, was summoned to the Chinese Foreign Ministry on December 8 for an “important discussion” about Australia’s complaints of political interference.
“The Australian side should be very clear about China’s position on the relevant issue,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Thursday.
The UK Guardian thinks Adams got a “pre-Christmas dressing down” after Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called upon Australians to “stand up” to interference in their politics.
Various Chinese responses have dismissed allegations of meddling in the political affairs of other countries as “disgraceful,” “logically absurd,” and a xenophobic attempt to whip up “China panic.” Chinese newspapers have attacked Turnbull as Australia’s “China-basher-in-chief.”

Sunlight v subversion: What to do about China’s infiltration?

China is manipulating decision-makers in Western democracies. The best defence is transparency.
The Economist

WHEN a rising power challenges an incumbent one, war often follows. 
That prospect, known as the Thucydides trap after the Greek historian who first described it, looms over relations between China and the West, particularly America. 
So, increasingly, does a more insidious confrontation. 
Even if China does not seek to conquer foreign lands, it seeks to conquer foreign minds.
Australia was the first to raise a red flag about China’s tactics. 
On December 5th allegations that China has been interfering in Australian politics, universities and publishing led the government to propose new laws to tackle “unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated” foreign efforts to influence lawmakers (see article). 
This week an Australian senator resigned over accusations that, as an opposition spokesman, he took money from China and argued its corner. 
Britain, Canada and New Zealand are also beginning to raise the alarm. 
On December 10th Germany accused China of trying to groom politicians and bureaucrats. 
And on December 13th Congress held hearings on China’s growing influence.
This behaviour has a name—“sharp power”, coined by the National Endowment for Democracy, a Washington-based think-tank. 
“Soft power” harnesses the allure of culture and values to add to a country’s strength; sharp power helps authoritarian regimes coerce and manipulate opinion abroad.
The West needs to respond to China’s behaviour, but it cannot simply throw up the barricades. 
Unlike the old Soviet Union, China is part of the world economy. 
Instead, in an era when statesmanship is in short supply, the West needs to find a statesmanlike middle ground. 
That starts with an understanding of sharp power and how it works.

Influencing the influencers
China has long tried to use visas, grants, investments and culture to pursue its interests. 
But its actions have recently grown more intimidating and encompassing
Its sharp power has a series of interlocking components: subversion, bullying and pressure, which combine to promote self-censorship. 
For China, the ultimate prize is pre-emptive kowtowing by those whom it has not approached, but who nonetheless fear losing funding, access or influence.
China has a history of spying on its diaspora, but the subversion has spread. 
In Australia and New Zealand Chinese money has bought influence in politics, with party donations or payments to individual politicians. 
This week’s complaint from German intelligence said that China was using the LinkedIn business network to ensnare politicians and government officials, by having people posing as recruiters and think-tankers and offering free trips.
Bullying has also taken on a new menace. 
Sometimes the message is blatant, as when China punished Norway economically for awarding a Nobel peace prize to a Chinese pro-democracy activist. 
More often, as when critics of China are not included in speaker line-ups at conferences, or academics avoid study of topics that China deems sensitive, individual cases seem small and the role of officials is hard to prove. 
But the effect can be grave. 
Western professors have been pressed to recant. 
Foreign researchers may lose access to Chinese archives. 
Policymakers may find that China experts in their own countries are too ill-informed to help them.
Because China is so integrated into economic, political and cultural life, the West is vulnerable to such pressure. 
Western governments may value trade over scoring diplomatic points, as when Greece vetoed a European Union statement criticising China’s record on human rights, shortly after a Chinese firm had invested in the port of Piraeus. 
The economy is so big that businesses dance to China’s tune without being told to.
An Australian publisher suddenly pulled a book, citing fears of “Beijing’s agents of influence”.
China's new weapon to infiltrate the West: LinkedIn

What to do?
Facing complaints from Australia and Germany, China has called its critics irresponsible and paranoid.
However, if China were being more truthful, it would point out that its desire for influence is what happens when countries become powerful.
China has a lot more at stake outside its borders today than it did. 
Some 10m Chinese have moved abroad since 1978. 
It worries that they will pick up democratic habits from foreigners and infect China itself. 
Separately, Chinese companies are investing in rich countries, including in resources, strategic infrastructure and farmland. 
China’s navy can project power far from home. 
Its government frets that its poor image abroad will do it harm. 
And as the rising superpower, China has an appetite to shape the rules of global engagement—rules created largely by America and western Europe and routinely invoked by them to justify their own actions.
Open societies ignore China’s sharp power at their peril.
Part of their defence should be practical. 
Counter-intelligence, the law and an independent media are the best protection against subversion. 
All three need Chinese speakers who grasp the connection between politics and commerce in China. The Chinese Communist Party suppresses free expression, open debate and independent thought to cement its control. 
Merely shedding light on its sharp tactics—and shaming kowtowers—would go a long way towards blunting them.
Ignoring manipulation in the hope that China will be more friendly in the future would only invite the next jab. 
Instead the West needs to stand by its own principles, with countries acting together if possible, and separately if they must. 
The first step in avoiding the Thucydides trap is for the West to use its own values to blunt China’s sharp power.

Rogue Nation

China Is Still Building on Disputed Islands in the South China Sea
By MATTHEW PENNINGTON

WASHINGTON -- Tensions over China’s island-building in the South China Sea may have eased in the past year, but Beijing has kept busy.
New satellite imagery shows China has built infrastructure covering 72 acres (28 hectares) in the Spratly and Paracel islands during 2017 to equip its larger outposts to be air and naval bases.
The Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative closely tracks developments in the South China Sea, where China and several Asian governments have conflicting territorial claims. 
It said Thursday there has been construction of hangars, underground storage, missile shelters, radar arrays and other facilities.
The activity comes as China joins what are likely to be protracted negotiations with Southeast Asian nations on a “code of conduct” for South China Sea. 
Tensions with the U.S. on the issue have also eased, despite Washington’s criticism of Beijing’s conduct.
The construction is the follow-up phase to a campaign of land reclamation that was completed by early 2016 in the Spratlys, an island chain where Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei also have claims. 
China has added more than 3,200 acres (1,248 hectares) of land to the seven land features it occupies in the area.
China also seems to have halted smaller-scale operations to expand islands in the Paracels that lie farther north, the initiative said.
The U.S. and others have accused Beijing of further militarizing the region and altering geography to bolster its sweeping claims across the South China Sea. 
China says the man-made islands in the Spratlys, which are equipped with airstrips and military installations, are mainly for civilian purposes and to boost safety for fishing and maritime trade.
Greg Poling, the initiative’s director, said China had seized a diplomatic opening after the election of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who adopted a conciliatory stance toward Beijing over their territorial dispute. 
It’s also been less of a focus for Donald Trump’s administration, preoccupied by North Korea’s nuclear threat and trade disputes with China.
“It’s gotten off the front pages, but we shouldn’t confuse that with a softening in China’s pursuit of its goals. They are continuing all the construction they want,” Poling said.
The most construction has been on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratlys, including hangars alongside its 10,000-foot (3,000-meter) airstrip, underground structures intended to house munitions or other materiel, hardened shelters for missile platforms, and communication and radar facilities, the initiative said.
It also noted that China has deployed new military aircraft at Woody Island in the Paracels. 
At the end of October, the Chinese military released images of J-11B fighter planes there for drills. 
In mid-November, Y-8 transport aircraft were spotted on the same island that may be capable of electronic intelligence gathering.
Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday that he could not comment in detail on U.S. assessments of the region but that “further militarization of outposts will only serve to raise tensions and create greater distrust among claimants.”
The United States does not claim territory in the South China Sea but has declared it has a national interest in ensuring that the territorial disputes there are resolved peacefully in accordance with international law and that freedom of navigation and overflight are guaranteed. 
China has opposed what it calls U.S. meddling in an Asian dispute.

jeudi 14 décembre 2017

Rogue nation: Why Europe need not kowtow to China

With a modicum of confidence, EU nations can set the terms of the relationship 
By PHILIP STEPHENS

Economic weakness has seen EU governments allow Beijing to play divide and rule 

It is a commonplace in Chinese commentary that Europe is in irreversible decline.
Hope, you suspect, is welded to expectation.
Democracies, the story goes, are in trouble as the old economic powers are left behind.
China is stealing a technological march.
As the US turns inward, an enfeebled Europe will have to turn eastward.
China’s grand “one belt, one road” project will connect east to west, new to old.
Guess who will be in charge?
Western liberalism, this prognosis has it, has outlived its time.
Cumbersome, inefficient and divisive, it lacks the unity of purpose harnessed by autocratic regimes.
Nor can it any longer meet the demands of the people — witness the trouncing of the old elite by Donald Trump in the US and the nationalist backlash in much of Europe.
The future belongs to strongman leaders untroubled by the competing demands of pluralist societies — Vladimir Putin in Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey and, above all, China’s Xi Jinping. Europeans are often too feeble in the face of such jibes.
The autocrats, otherwise intelligent people mutter, have a point.

Xi has attached the might of the state to his great China dream.
The breathless advance of technology is allowing autocrats to tighten their grip on the state.
Look at China’s chilling experiment to capture digitally every detail of its citizens’ lives in a single electronic “rating”, combining everything from credit status to fealty to the party.
Economic weakness at home has seen EU governments scramble for the benefits of doing business with a booming China. 
They have allowed Beijing to play divide and rule. 
London, Paris and Berlin have had their sights on the rich market for exports; smaller economies on the eastern periphery seek a new source of investment.
Human rights now take a back seat. 
Only the other day, 16 leaders from the eastern half of the continent paid homage to Chinese premier Li Keqiang at a summit in Budapest.
All true.
But, as the European Council on Foreign Relations says in an excellent analysis of the balance of power in the EU-China relationship, even the most enthusiastic mercantilists have begun to count the costs of doing business with Beijing. 
Win-win too often refers to a double whammy for China. 
 There is anyway a bigger flaw in these grand predictive sweeps.
The organising assumption is that history travels in straight lines — that Europe’s troubles are inescapable and that China will be forever impervious to the economic cycle and the human desire for freedom.
To the contrary, the EU is on the mend.
Sure, Britain is leaving, but every passing week simply confirms Brexit as a grotesque act of self-harm. 
The rest of the continent has rediscovered economic growth.
Unemployment is falling and investment rising.
Greece no longer threatens to collapse the eurozone.
The migration crisis has subsided.
There are strong hopes in Paris and Berlin for a reinvigoration of the Franco-German relationship.
In short, Europe no longer feels like a continent flat on its back.
 As for European democracy, the populists have been held at bay.
For all the imperfections, successive crises have also shown the peculiar resilience of democratic systems. 
Chucking out the rascals is a safety valve.
Angry though they might be, voters are not clamouring for curbs on individual freedom or yearning for despotic rule.
What is needed now is for Europe to recover confidence in its values and institutions.
The oft-rehearsed argument between those certain that China will soon rule the world and others sure that it will collapse under the collision of rising living standards and political repression is a silly one. What can be sensibly be said is that China has plenty of hurdles yet to jump before it realises Xi’s dream.
Party rule rests on a fragile bargain — economic prosperity in return for the absence of freedom.
One of the striking features of authoritarian regimes is their brittleness. 
They are unassailable until the moment they break.
 Where Beijing is right is that the relationship between China and Europe will be as important as any in shaping geopolitics during coming decades.
The belligerent isolationism of Trump’s foreign policy is unlikely to survive beyond his presidency, but it is a fair assessment that his successors in the White House will draw tighter lines around America’s international commitments.
 So the focus of geopolitical attention will shift from the littoral states of the north Atlantic to what the late Zbigniew Brzezinski once called the “axial supercontinent” of Eurasia.
This is the vast space over which China would like to hold sway during the second half of the 21st century.
The EU has a choice: it can be supplicant, partner or roadblock.
 Europe is rich, technologically advanced and educationally sophisticated.
“One belt, one road” is an offer it can refuse. 
At the very least it can set its own terms for the relationship.
If China wants connectivity it must open up its own economy; if it wants to be an investment partner, it should observe European standards and norms. 
All that is required of EU nations is a modicum of confidence and shared resolve. 
 Europe has taken a battering.
China’s rise has been amplified by western disarray.
Geopolitics, though, is a long game.
Not so long ago the US called itself the indispensable superpower.
Beijing is not immune from such hubris.
China may be at the gates, but Europe should feel no obligation to bow to Beijing.

Chinese Golem

China’s long arm of influence stretches ever further
By Ishaan Tharoor

For more than a year, Americans have fretted over the extent to which Russia influenced the outcome of last year's presidential election. 
A special counsel probe into Russian meddling continues to roil politics in Washington and may yet ensnare more figures linked to the Trump administration
The specter of Kremlin collusion has darkened U.S.-Russia diplomatic relations; the proliferation of Russian "bots” on social-media platforms such Facebook and Twitter has led to difficult reckonings within U.S. tech and social media companies.
But, in the longer term, U.S. strategists may be less worried about the influence of Moscow abroad than that of Beijing. 
On Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) convened a hearing on the “Long Arm of China,” focusing on China's capacity to launch influence operations abroad to gain leverage over democratic rivals. 
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

“We have a lot of discussion of Russian interference in our elections, but the Chinese efforts to influence our public policy and our basic freedoms are much more widespread than most people realize,” Rubio told my colleague Josh Rogin ahead of the session.
The discussion was timely. 
On Tuesday, as you may have read in yesterday's edition, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a ban on foreign political donations, citing “disturbing reports about Chinese influence.” 
These include the allegations surrounding Sam Dastyari, a Labor Party senator “accused of endorsing China’s controversial actions in the disputed South China Sea, against his party’s platform, in return for support from donor Huang Xiangmo,” as The Post's Simon Denyer wrote
He has given Huang advice on how to evade Australian surveillance and has unsuccessfully tried to pressure Labor’s deputy leader not to meet a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist in 2015.
On Wednesday, attention in Australia centered on a Chinese letter calling on Australian Chinese to vote against the ruling Liberal Party; its origins, though murky, appeared to have some connection to an agency within the Chinese Communist Party. 
Australia and New Zealand have so far allowed foreign donations. 
But the growing clout of China, which retains huge economic interests in the Antipodes, is causing alarm.
In its own annual report to Parliament, Australia's domestic intelligence agency warned of Chinese influence posing “a threat to our sovereignty, the ­integrity of our national institutions, and the exercise of our citizens’ rights.” 
In September, a comprehensive report by New Zealand academic Anne-Marie Brady on Chinese soft power there — including Chinese patronage networks reaching into the political elite and the use of the country's dairy farms to test Chinese satellites — shook up New Zealand's election campaign.
China is, of course, a world power, and it is natural for it to cultivate extensive ties in foreign lands. Chinese investments and other soft-power influences have factored into election campaigns in developing countries as diverse as Zambia, Peru and Nepal
In many cases, China's interests are primarily economic. 
As new studies point out, its cultivation of foreign assets follows rather traditional lines: making connections through people-to-people exchanges, wooing the political elite with generous gifts and hospitality, and using partnerships with local universities and its vast network of Chinese government-sponsored Confucius Institutes to influence attitudes about China abroad.

China is investing in more powerful surveillance software and other tools to restrict dissent on the Internet. 

But Rubio and others warn of a more dangerous ideological edge to China's international agenda. They argue that as China creates an increasingly sophisticated online police state at home — built on maximizing surveillance and censorship — it is intensifying efforts to explore other countries' vulnerabilities. 
“In an era of hyperglobalization, the regimes in Russia and China have raised barriers to external political and cultural influence at home while simultaneously preying upon the openness of democratic systems abroad,” wrote the researchers for a new report from the National Endowment for Democracy that focuses on the “sharp power” of authoritarian regimes.
“The Chinese government has spent tens of billions of dollars to shape norms, narratives, and attitudes in other countries,” said Shanthi Kalathil of the National Endowment for Democracy, speaking at Wednesday's hearing.
Chinese authorities also appear to be deepening their monitoring of their citizens on foreign soil. “China’s influence campaign appears to have extended further in Australia,” wrote Joshua Kurlantzick of the Council on Foreign Relations
“China’s state security forces have engaged in a campaign to monitor Chinese nationals, including many students there — even warning them not to offer any criticism of Beijing lest their relatives in China be harmed.”
In his Dec. 10 article, Rogin wrote: “China’s overriding goal is, at the least, to defend its authoritarian system from attack and at most to export it to the world at America’s expense.”
On Wednesday in Washington, Rubio said the emerging Chinese strategy “directly threatens our most deeply held values and our national interest.” 
He added: “Chinese leaders are engaged in the long game. And it is something that policymakers in the United States and our like-minded allies must take seriously.”
With Trump in office, however, there is little sign that the United States has a long game of its own. Trump's trip to Asia this year was marked by its policy incoherence as well as Trump's inability to extract any meaningful concessions while being feted in Beijing.
“The problem for Australia is that China’s willingness to use coercion to achieve its dream of renewed greatness is becoming a defining feature of its foreign policy,” wrote Alan Dupont, founder of the Cognoscenti Group consultancy, in the newspaper the Australian
“With the U.S. in self-declared retreat from its global leadership role and lacking a coherent Asia policy under Donald Trump, there are diminishing external constraints on Chinese behavior and ambitions.”
Brady, the New Zealand academic, argued that what is taking root has less to do with Beijing's particular agenda than the complacency of democracies. 
“It'd be the same if it was any country,” she told the New Zealand Herald. 
“It's not about China, but it's our country and our democracy where we value freedom of speech and association. It's our right to choose our government.”

mercredi 13 décembre 2017

North Korea Offers China Sex For Money

North Korean women help to meet the shortage of brides in China's male-dominated society.
By Steven W. Mosher 

Why are an estimated 85 percent of the North Koreans who manage to make their way to freedom in South Korea women?
And why do nearly all come by way of China, rather than across the heavily guarded DMZ, and have sad stories of sexual abuse to tell?
The backward North Korean economy produces very little that the world wants. 
But Big Brother China, however, is hungry for the two things Pyongyang does have in relative abundance: coal and women. 
The coal keeps the fires burning in energy-poor China. 
The women help to meet the shortage of brides in China's male-dominated society.
China's one-child policy has devastated the female population. 
Over the past three-and-a-half decades that the policy has been in place, tens of millions of girls have disappeared from the population. 
They were killed in utero by sex-selection abortions, at birth by female infanticide, or after birth by simple neglect.
Sex-selection abortion is the biggest offender. 
Almost ten million such abortions were carried out between the years 2000 and 2014. 
That works out to 1800 unborn girls eliminated every day, 640,000 eliminated each year, and six and half million each decade.
This targeting of unborn baby girls has so skewed the sex ratio at birth that there are now at least 115 boys born for every 100 girls.
The result is that women of marriageable age are in short supply. 
There are now an estimated 33 million men in China who cannot find brides -- at least inside of China. 
And so they look abroad.
The State Department's 2013 "Trafficking in Persons Report" acknowledged the connection, stating that "the Chinese government's birth control policy and a cultural preference for sons, create a skewed sex-ration of 118 boys to 100 girls in China, which served as a key source of demand for the trafficking of foreign women as brides for Chinese men and for forced prostitution."
One place that Chinese men look for brides is the other side of the Yalu River, for in North Korea there are lots of hungry young women longing for a better life. 
The population of Kim Jong Un's socialist paradise subsists in near famine conditions, with two in five North Koreans undernourished and more than two-thirds on food aid.
The latest United Nations report, published in March 2017, paints a grim picture: Out of a population of 24 million, "an estimated 18 million people are dependent on Government food rations while 10.5 million people are believed to be undernourished. A lack of access to basic services including water and sanitation, as well as a weak health infrastructure further threaten the well-being of the population, particularly young children and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Even members of Kim's highly touted "one-million man army" are starving; witness the sick and malnourished defector who recently crawled across the DMZ to freedom.
As a result of this widespread and continuing food shortage, starving North Korea peasants are often happy to sell a teenaged daughter -- whom they would have trouble feeding in any event -- to agents who claim that they are recruiting workers for Chinese companies. 
"Your daughter will be given a job in a factory or restaurant," they promise the parents. 
"She will finally have enough to eat."
Older women are also lured across the border on the same promise.
But these "hiring agents" are actually sex traffickers, and what awaits the North Korean girls and women in China is not a real job but either forced marriage or out-and-out sexual slavery
Young girls, especially if they are virgins, are sold to the highest bidder as brides. 
Older women are generally sold to brothels where they are kept under lock and key and forced to work as prostitutes.
It is no wonder that many of them take flight at the first opportunity, paying "snakeheads"--illegal guides -- to lead them safely across China's southern border to Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. 
From there they can easily travel to South Korea and freedom.
“Historically, the largest influence in female migration from North Korea to China has been sex trafficking and marriages,” said Sokeel Park, the Seoul-based director of research and strategy for Liberty in North Korea, an organization that helps rescue North Korean refugees hiding in China.
Having found their way to freedom, few of these woman will go on record saying that they were forced into prostitution or sold as wives in China. 
But nearly all, as vulnerable women in a country with a superabundance of often predatory males, were sexually abused in some way.

Rogue Nation

China's DNA database in East Turkestan is in gross violation of international human rights norms
By Christopher Carbone

Chinese state terrorism in East Turkestan.

China is collecting DNA and other biometric data from the population in East Turkestan is a “gross violation” of global norms, Human Right Watch said Wednesday.
Authorities have collected DNA samples, fingerprints, iris scans, and blood types of all residents in the region between the ages of 12 and 65.
The DNA and blood types are being collected through a free annual physical exams program called Physicals for All, the human rights groups said.
The ongoing unrest in East Turkestan between Uighurs, a mostly Muslim people, and ethnic majority Han Chinese, has resulted in hundreds of people being killed and a sweeping security crackdown by the communist country, which blames Islamist militants for the fighting.
“East Turkestan authorities should rename their physical exams project ‘Privacy Violations for All,’ as informed consent and real choice does not seem to be part of these programs,” Sophie Richardson, China director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked about the report by Human Rights Watch, accused the group of making “untrue” statements.
Reuters reports that government workers have to “earnestly safeguard the peoples’ legal rights,” but the plan set forth made no mention of a need to inform people fully about the campaign or of any option for people to decline to take part.
State media have said participation in the physical exams was "voluntary". 
Richardson said it is not.
The mandatory databanking of a whole population’s biodata, including DNA, is a gross violation of international human rights norms, and it’s even more disturbing if it is done surreptitiously, under the guise of a free health care program,” Richardson said.
Human Rights Watch cited an unidentified East Turkestan resident saying he feared being labeled with “political disloyalty” if he did not participate, and that he had not received any results from the health checks.
The official Xinhua news agency in November cited health authorities as saying 18.8 million people in the region had received such physicals in 2017, reports Reuters.
Human Rights Watch in May documented the Chinese police’s searchable, nationwide DNA database with 40 million entries from people, including dissidents and migrants. 
A DNA database allows police not only to search for an exact match, but also for those who are related family members.

Chinese are selling poisoned darts to kill dogs for meat

Chinese gang sold 200,000 syringes modified for use as darts
Agence France-Presse in Shanghai

Dogs in cages are sold by vendors at a market during a dog meat festival in Yulin.

Poisoned syringes that could be fired at dogs on the street to kill them instantly were sold by a gang in China, allowing pets to be snatched and sold for the dinner table, according to state media.
Police in the eastern province of Anhui arrested eight people, alleging they sold 200,000 of the syringes across the country filled with a large dose of the muscle relaxant suxamethonium.
The buyers were mainly dog vendors who collect and sell the animals to restaurants for meat, Xinhua news agency said, citing police who warned that people who ate the meat were also in danger of being poisoned.
The needles were modified by the gang with a spring and tailfin so they could be shot from a distance.
After buying the needles, unscrupulous dog dealers would target pets, then abduct them.
Police were searching for more of the syringes, which contained enough suxamethonium to kill the animals immediately.
When police raided the gang’s lair in Enshi City, central Hubei province, in October, they found 4kg of chemical powder, 10,000 needles and 100,000 yuan (£11,200).

mardi 12 décembre 2017

China’s Cover-Up

When Communists Rewrite History
By Orville Schell

The Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong’s “permanent revolution” destroyed tens of millions of lives. 
From the communist victory in 1949 in the Chinese Civil War, through the upheaval, famine, and bloodletting of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, until Mao’s death in 1976, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) set segments of Chinese society against one another in successive spasms of violent class warfare. 
As wave after wave of savagery swept China, millions were killed and millions more sent off to “reform through labor” and ruination.
Mao had expected this level of brutality. 
As he once declared: “A revolution is neither a dinner party, nor writing an essay, painting a picture, or doing embroidery. It cannot be so refined, so leisurely, gentle, temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”
Today, even experts on Chinese history find it difficult to keep track of all the lethal “mass movements” that shaped Mao’s revolution and which the party invariably extolled with various slogans. 
Mao launched campaigns to “exterminate landlords” after the Communists came to power in 1949; to “suppress counterrevolutionaries” in the early 1950s; to purge “rightists” in the late 1950s; to overthrow “capitalist roaders” during the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s; and to “rectify” young people’s thinking by shipping them off to China’s poorest rural areas during the Down to the Countryside Movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 
The ideological rhetoric obscured the extremism of these official actions, through which the party permitted the persecution and liquidation of myriad varieties of “counterrevolutionary elements.” 
One of Mao’s most notable sayings was “the party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the party.” 
Long after his death, his successors carried on in that tradition, most visibly during the Tiananmen Square massacre and the ensuing crackdown that the CCP carried out in response to peaceful protests in 1989, which led to untold numbers of dead and wounded.
Today, China is enjoying a period of relative stability. 
The party promotes a vision of a “harmonious society” instead of class struggle and extols comfortable prosperity over cathartic violence. 
Someone unfamiliar with the country might be forgiven for assuming that it had reckoned with its recent past and found a way to heal its wounds and move on.
Far from it. 
In fact, a visitor wandering the streets of any Chinese city today will find no plaques consecrating the sites of mass arrests, no statues dedicated to the victims of persecution, no monuments erected to honor those who perished after being designated “class enemies.” 
Despite all the anguish and death the CCP has caused, it has never issued any official admission of guilt, much less allowed any memorialization of its victims. 
And because any mea culpa would risk undermining the party’s legitimacy and its right to rule unilaterally, nothing of the sort is likely to occur so long as the CCP remains in power.

(RE)WRITTEN BY THE VICTORS
Despite its success in shepherding China’s economic development and rise to global power, the party remains insecure and thin-skinned, perhaps because its leaders are still so painfully aware of the party’s historical liabilities. 
The Central Propaganda Department—which, along with myriad other state organs, is tasked with censoring the media and making sure that all educational materials toe the party’s line—has sealed off entire areas of China’s past. 
Serious consequences flow from the manipulation of something as fundamental to a country’s identity as its historical DNA. 
Maintaining a “correct” version of history not only requires totalitarian controls but also denies Chinese the possibility of exploring, debating, understanding, and coming to terms with the moral significance of what has been done to them and what they have been induced to do to themselves and one another.
The task of “correcting” or erasing entire segments of a country’s past is costly and exhausting. 
An example of the lengths to which propaganda officials go has recently been brought to light by Glenn Tiffert, a China scholar at the University of Michigan. 
Through dogged sleuthing, he discovered that two digital archives—the China National Knowledge Infrastructure, which is connected to Tsinghua University, and the National Social Sciences Database, which is sponsored by the Chinese government—were missing the same group of 63 articles published between 1956 and 1958 by two Chinese-language academic law journals. 
These articles had long been available via both archives, only to inexplicably disappear. (Tiffert is not sure when the erasure occurred.) 
His study revealed that certain scholars, especially those who had been influenced by the West and had run afoul of the party’s ever-changing political lines, almost always had their articles deleted. 
At the same time, certain topics, such as “the transcendence of law over politics and class, the presumption of innocence, and the heritability of law,” and certain terminology, such as the phrases “rule of law” and “rightist elements,” also seemed to serve as cause for removal. 
Tellingly, there was a striking uniformity in the writers and topics that were excised.

Students attend a history course at the China Executive Leadership Academy of Pudong in Shanghai, September 2012.

Except for a few institutions abroad that maintain hard-copy collections of such journals, those articles are now unavailable to Chinese citizens and to the world. 
Such manipulation is made all the more pernicious owing to the fact that “even sound research practice may offer no defense,” as Tiffert points out. 
“Perversely, the more faithful scholars are to their censored sources, the better they may unwittingly promote the biases and agendas of the censors, and lend those the independent authority of their professional reputations.”
As the astrophysicist and dissident Chinese intellectual Fang Lizhi wrote in 1990 of such state-sponsored assaults on China’s historical memory:
The policy’s aim is to force the whole of society to forget its history, and especially the true history of the Chinese Communist party itself...
In an effort to coerce all of society into a continuing forgetfulness, the policy requires that any detail of history that is not in the interests of the Chinese Communists cannot be expressed in any speech, book, document, or other medium.
Fang wrote those words just after the Tiananmen Square massacre, when he was trapped in the U.S. embassy and the CCP was undertaking one of its most audacious efforts at historical erasure—namely, wiping away all traces of the crimes it had just committed from archives, books, and electronic media. 
So successful was this censorship that, in 2004, the Chinese dissident and future Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo lamented that even though “the people of Mainland China have suffered some unimaginable catastrophes after the Communist accession to power, the post-Tiananmen generation has no deep impression of them and lacks firsthand experience of police state oppression.” 
Ten years later, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei put it more bluntly: “Because there is no discussion of these events, Chinese still have little understanding of their consequences. Censorship has in effect neutered society, transforming it into a damaged, irrational, and purposeless creature.”
In this way, China has become “the People’s Republic of Amnesia,” in the words of Louisa Lim, a former BBC and NPR correspondent in Beijing, who used that phrase as the title of her 2014 book. As she wrote, “A single act of public remembrance might expose the frailty of the state’s carefully constructed edifice of accepted history, scaffolded in place over a generation and kept aloft by a brittle structure of strict censorship, blatant falsehood and willful forgetting.”

A man stands in front of a column of army tanks on Changan Avenue east of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, June 1989.

THE STONES SPEAK

But is it really better for societies or communities to collectively remember traumatic periods of their histories? 
Might not such retrospection reopen old wounds and revive old, murderous struggles?
The CCP would like the people it rules—and the rest of the world—to embrace such logic and accept that evasion of the brutal truth about the past is the best route to healing.
An entirely different school of thought grew out of the German experience of facing up to the crimes of the Nazis. 
The man who devised the road map for the expiation of German guilt was the philosopher and psychoanalyst Karl Jaspers, who in 1945 gave a series of influential lectures at the University of Heidelberg that were later collected in a book titled The Question of German Guilt. 
Even though what happened under Adolf Hitler precipitated something “like a transmutation of our being,” said Jaspers, Germans were still “collectively liable.” 
All of those “who knew, or could know”—including those “conveniently closing their eyes to events or permitting themselves to be intoxicated, seduced, or bought with personal advantage, or obeying from fear”—shared responsibility. 
The “eagerness to obey” and the “unconditionality of blind nationalism,” he declared, constituted “moral guilt.” 
Human beings are, said Jaspers, responsible “for every delusion to which we succumb.” 
He put his faith in healing through “the cultivation of truth” and “making amends,” a process he believed had to be completely free from any state-sponsored propaganda or manipulation.

Security cameras in front of the giant portrait of former Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, November 2012.
“There can be no questions that might not be raised,” he declared, “nothing to be fondly taken for granted, no sentimental and no practical lie that would have to be guarded or that would be untouchable.” 
In Jaspers’ view, only through historical awareness could Germans ever come to terms with their past and restore themselves to a semblance of moral and societal health.
Jaspers’ approach owed a great deal to psychoanalytic theory and the work of Sigmund Freud
For Freud, understanding a patient’s past was like “excavating a buried city,” as he wrote in 1895. Indeed, he was fond of quoting the Latin expression saxa loquuntur: “The stones speak.” 
Such mental archaeology was important to Freud because he believed that a repressed past inevitably infected the present and the future with neuroses unless given a conscious voice to help fill in what he called “the gaps in memory.” 
In this sense, history and memory were Freud’s allies and forgetting was his enemy.
Mao, too, was fascinated by history, but he took a far more utilitarian view of it: for him, the historical record served chiefly to fortify his own reductive theories. 
Independent historians engaging in free-form explorations of the past represented a profound threat, and during Mao’s reign, many of them were dismissed from their official positions, charged as “counterrevolutionaries,” sent off for “thought reform” at labor camps, and in all too many cases persecuted to death.

DANGEROUS HISTORY

Given his own neo-Maoist predilections, it is hardly surprising that Xi Jinping also views independent scholars as dangerous progenitors of what Chinese state media have termed “historical nihilism.” 
In 2015, the People’s Liberation Army Daily warned that China “must be [on] guard” against such malefactors because they are now “spreading from the academic realm into online culture,” where “capricious ideas are warping historical thoughts and leading discourse astray.”
Tiffert spells out what it means when Chinese historians run afoul of party censors. 
They confront, he writes, “a sliding scale of penalties, including harassment by the authorities, closure of publications and online accounts, humiliating investigations into personal affairs, business activities and tax status, and ultimately unemployment, eviction, and criminal prosecution.” 
Last year, Chinese civil law was even amended to punish “those who infringe upon the name, likeness, reputation, or honor of a hero, martyr, and so forth, harming the societal public interest,” writes Tiffert, which explains why “previously outspoken intellectuals and activists are going silent.”
Tiffert also reports that “the Chinese government is leveraging technology to quietly export its domestic censorship regime abroad, by manipulating how observers everywhere comprehend its past, present, and future.” 
Indeed, last summer, Beijing hectored Cambridge University Press into sanitizing the digital archive of The China Quarterly, an important English-language academic journal, by removing over 300 articles the CCP found objectionable from its Chinese search function. (The publisher reversed its decision days after a number of news outlets reported on its initial capitulation.) 
Then, last November, Springer Nature, the publisher of such titles as Nature and Scientific American, eliminated from its Chinese websites a large number of articles that included politically sensitive references—more than 1,000 articles in all, according to the Financial Times.
China’s leaders seem to believe they can escape the party’s compromised history without penalty, at least in the short run—and they might be right. 
After all, China’s economic progress and emergence as a significant global power do not appear to have been impeded, so far. 
The CCP is wagering that it can undo, or at least dodge, the long-term damage it has inflicted on the Chinese people by simply erasing history.
But hiding the crimes of the past sits uneasily alongside the CCP tenet that there is no such thing as “universal values,” which are invariably associated with democracy and human rights and which the party casts as something foisted on China by the West as a way to undermine China’s authoritarian one-party system. 
According to this view, human beings have no common bias against such things as persecution, forced confession, torture, and violent repression; no basic shared yearning for liberty or for freedom of expression, assembly, and religion; and no desire to live in a world where wrongs can ultimately be righted.
If that were true, however, the party would have no reason to fear an honest accounting of the past. After all, if universal values do not exist, then Mao’s attacks on his critics and enemies do not represent grave transgressions. 
And yet the CCP goes to great lengths to hide the truth about those deeds—a contradiction that suggests something like a guilty conscience, or at least embarrassment at being exposed. 
If that is the case, then perhaps some future Chinese regime will have to find a way to acknowledge and even come to terms with the full dimensions of what the CCP has done to China.
For the foreseeable future, however, that seems unlikely.
In the wake of China’s Democracy Wall Movement of 1978–79, during which thousands of Beijingers gathered at an unprepossessing brick wall to hang political posters, deliver speeches, and hold political debates, Chinese writers began examining their country’s decades of political oppression. 
This writing came to be known as “investigative reportage” and “scar literature.” 
But such inquiries ended after 1989, and ever since Xi took office, in 2012, an ever-heavier shroud of censorship has cast China into an increasingly deep state of historical darkness. 
A recent study by the China Media Project, at the University of Hong Kong, searched 140 mainland Chinese publications for articles about the Cultural Revolution, a ten-year period during which countless millions of middle-class Chinese, intellectuals, and Western-trained professionals were persecuted and killed for having “bad class backgrounds.” 
The researchers found only three articles that dared delve into that decade in any detail. 
For publications to cover the subject more thoroughly “would mean running a foolish risk,” wrote the authors of the project’s report.
And even if such work were someday again welcomed in China, its impact might be less than dramatic, because so much has been suppressed and repressed. 
In the words of the dissident Liu: “Eyes kept too long in the darkness do not easily adapt to dazzling sunlight when it suddenly pours through a window.”

Rogue Social Media

China is Using LinkedIn to Recruit Informants
By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ and MELISSA EDDY

The Chinese Embassy in Berlin on Monday. German intelligence services said that more than 10,000 German citizens had been targeted by Chinese spies on LinkedIn.

BEIJING — German’s domestic intelligence agency has accused China of using LinkedIn to infiltrate the German government.
In a scathing investigation released on Sunday, the intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, accused Beijing of using social media to target more than 10,000 citizens, including lawmakers and other government employees. 
To win their trust, the agency said, Chinese agents posed as leaders of think tanks and headhunters, and offered all-expenses-paid trips to China and meetings with influential clients.
The German investigation added to anxieties in Western countries about Chinese efforts to infiltrate foreign governments and businesses, in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage, especially on economic and foreign policy issues. 
The United States has accused China of rampant economic espionage. 
Australia is debating tougher laws to guard against foreign interference, amid reports that China is meddling in Australian universities and elections.
German officials said that Chinese agents had created fake profiles in hopes of “gleaning information and recruiting sources” in Germany. 
Chinese agents approached targets by saying they were interested in exchanging information or offering to establish contact for them with an expert on China, German officials said.
Hans-Georg Maassen, the president of the German intelligence agency, called the efforts “a broad attempt to infiltrate Parliaments, ministries and administrations.”
Adam M. Segal, an expert on cybersecurity and China at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the German investigation will add “more fuel to the fire of skepticism and suspicion about Chinese actions” in the West.
He said that China would probably continue to expand its digital espionage efforts despite criticism. “Given how sensitive the regime and Xi Jinping seems to be to any challenge domestically, they also want to try to control as much as they can internationally,” Mr. Segal said.
LinkedIn is one of few foreign social media companies operating in China, in part because it adheres closely to Chinese regulations and has a relatively warm relationship with the government.
Under the scheme described by German intelligence, Chinese agents used aliases like Eva Han on LinkedIn.
They used photographs from fashion magazines as their profile pictures. 
Several listed fake company names.
Once they established contact with German citizens, the Chinese agents intensified the attempted exchange, asking for a résumé and offering compensation for work on a project.
They invited Germans to China for conferences or meetings with “important clients” who never materialized. 
They pressed the targets for sensitive information in exchange for money.
The German government has repeatedly warned in recent months that China is increasing its efforts to steal trade secrets and other sensitive information from European targets.
In July, the government said that Chinese agents were seeking information about foreign and economic policy. 
It said China had targeted lawmakers and employees of the European and German Parliaments, lobbyists, members of the military and representatives of foundations and think tanks.
Is he a spy? Probably.

Beijing Stooge: The Price of Treason

Sam Dastyari Quits Amid Questions Over China Ties
By JACQUELINE WILLIAMS

Senator Sam Dastyari of the Australian Labor Party resigned after taking money to support pro-China policies. 

SYDNEY, Australia — A prominent Australian lawmaker at the center of intensifying concerns about Chinese interference in Australian politics said Tuesday he would resign because his “ongoing presence” detracts from his party’s mission.
The senator, Sam Dastyari, of the opposition Labor Party, said on Tuesday he would not return to Parliament next year. 
His announcement follows months of intense media scrutiny in which he has fended off accusations that he pushed China’s foreign policy interests after taking money from Chinese-born political donors.
“I’ve been guided by my Labor values, which tell me that I should leave if my ongoing presence detracts from the pursuit of Labor’s mission,” Dastyari, 34, said at a morning news conference. 
“It is evident to me we are at that point, so I will spare the party any further distraction.”
The lawmaker had been in the Senate for four years and had been considered by some a rising star in Australian politics.
He had been under pressure to resign since allegations first emerged last year that a company owned by a Chinese billionaire paid a legal bill for him. 
This year, a recording emerged in which Dastyari made comments at a Chinese media conference defending China’s aggressive military posture in the South China Sea despite his own party’s opposition to China’s actions there.
He came under fire most recently after reports emerged that he had pressured his party’s deputy leader not to meet a Chinese political activist while visiting Hong Kong in 2015.
“He’s made mistakes of judgment,” said Bill Shorten, the Labor Party leader, after Dastyari’s resignation. 
“But he’s paid the heaviest of prices — his career in federal politics is over.”
“It’s a tough decision — I think it’s the right decision,” Mr. Shorten said of the resignation.
On Tuesday, Mr. Shorten also became ensnared in the controversy when it was revealed that a Chinese billionaire had paid 55,000 Australian dollars, or $41,000, to have lunch with him.
Relations between Australia and China have become strained since the Australian government last week unveiled a series of proposed laws to crack down on Chinese influence in Australian politics.
The new legislation, which would ban Chinese political donations, among other proposals, has long been expected after a series of revelations in the Australian news media about Chinese meddling in the country’s politics.
“We have recently seen disturbing reports about Chinese influence,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said last week after announcing the proposed laws.
News reports this year about the issue have prompted a growing debate in Australia over how vulnerable its democratic political system is to Chinese influence.
The question of Chinese interference is a delicate one for Australia, an American ally that has embraced Beijing as its largest trade partner and welcomed Chinese investors, immigrants and students in large numbers.
“The suggestion that I or my government or Australia generally is anti-Chinese is outrageous,” Mr. Turnbull said on Monday after being accused of overreaching in his criticism of China and Chinese influence in Australia.
“This is a question about our national interest and ensuring that our leaders, our senators, our members of the House, put Australia first,” the prime minister said.
Politicians from the governing Liberal Party have been calling for Dastyari’s dismissal for weeks, with some critics of the center-right party saying its members are exploiting the controversy to bolster their own weak hold on government.
Some say Dastyari resigned this week because his presence was damaging the Labor Party’s broader political interests.
“We’ve had about a 15-month drumbeat of attention to this issue,” said Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at Australian National University. 
“And it became very clear in the last few weeks that the political heat was only going to be taken out of the issue with Dastyari out of politics.”
Dastyari’s seat won’t be filled until next year; Mr. Shorten said it would be up to the New South Wales Labor Party to pick a successor to fill the seat.

lundi 11 décembre 2017

Linked In Spying

CHINA IS SPYING ON THE WEST USING LINKEDIN
BY ANTHONY CUTHBERTSON

Chinese spies nest.

China has denied using LinkedIn to infiltrate political and business circles in Germany, following claims from German intelligence services that 10,000 of its citizens were targeted by Chinese spies.
The German intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), made the allegations Sunday, suggesting that China was using fake profiles to connect with high-profile politicians and business leaders. 
The claims follow similar allegations of cyber espionage being undertaken by Russian spy agencies.
“Chinese intelligence services are active on networks like LinkedIn and have been trying for a while to extract information and find intelligence sources in this way,” said a spokesperson for Germany’s BfV intelligence agency.
The infections are difficult to detect, since network connections between service providers and their customers aren’t suspicious. This gives the attacker an even better disguise than before.
The method of infiltration that Chinese operatives used, according to the BfV, was to pose as academics, business consultants and policy experts on the business networking site. 
The BfV published the names of eight of the profiles it claimed were set up for the purpose of surveillance and infiltration, adding that it suspected there were many more.
One example of a suspicious account was that of Laeticia Chen, whose profile stated she was a manager at the “China Center of International Politics and Economy.” 
There was no evidence that Chen is a real person and her profile picture was borrowed from an online fashion catalogue, the intelligence agency said, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
The BfV feared that these accounts were used to contact relevant German nationals for the purpose of gathering information and to recruit informants.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to the allegations on Monday, December 11, saying that such claims were damaging to relations between the two countries.
Earlier this year, Russian intelligence services came under scrutiny for their manipulation of LinkedIn as a surveillance tool, as well as their widely reported use of bots across other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
The attraction of LinkedIn as a spying platform is that its users are predominantly white-collar workers in positions that could be exploited at high levels of business and government.
“The Russian special services are for sure exploiting LinkedIn to gather personal information on certain targets and possibly recruit and blackmail them,” a Kremlin expert told Newsweek in August. “They operate under fabricated identities and credentials, while Russian propaganda and trolling campaigns are widely applied on the platform.”