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By BBC World News
02 February 2013
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt uses a new book to call China an Internet menace that backs cyber-crime for economic and political gain, reports say.
The New Digital Age - due for release in April - reportedly brands China "the world's most active and enthusiastic filterer of information".
China is "the most sophisticated and prolific" hacker of foreign companies, according to a review obtained by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
China denies allegations of hacking.
Beijing has been accused by several governments, foreign companies and organisations of carrying out extensive cyber espionage for many years, seeking to gather information and to control China's image.
The New Digital Age analyses how China is dangerously exploiting an Internet that now permeates politics, business, culture and other aspects of life, the WSJ says.
It quotes the book as saying: "The disparity between American and Chinese firms and their tactics will put both the government and the companies of the United States at a distinct disadvantage."
This, it says, is because Washington "will not take the same path of digital corporate espionage, as its laws are much stricter (and better enforced) and because illicit competition violates the American sense of fair play".
The book argues that Western governments could do more to follow China's lead and develop stronger relationships between the state and technology companies.
States will benefit if they use software and technology made by trusted companies, it suggests.
"Where Huawei gains market share, the influence and reach of China grow as well," the WSJ quoted the authors as writing.
The WSJ this week said its computer systems had been hacked by specialists in China who were trying to monitor its China coverage.
It was the second reported attack on a major US news outlet in days, as the New York Times reported earlier that Chinese hackers had "persistently" penetrated its systems for the last four months.
China's foreign ministry dismissed the New York Times' accusations as "groundless" and "totally irresponsible".
Alleged China-based hacks
- China was widely believed to be the source of major cyber attacks between 2006 and 2011 targeting 72 organisations including the International Olympic Committee, the UN and security firms
- In 2011, Google said hackers based in Jinan province had compromised personal email accounts of hundreds of top US officials, military personnel and journalists
- South Korea blamed Chinese hackers for stealing data from 35 million accounts on a popular social network in July last year
- Chinese-based computers seized "full functional control" of computers at Nasa in 2011, the US body said
- In 2011 US media reported that Chinese-based hackers were suspected of a "significant" cyber attack on defence firm Lockheed Martin.
- Coca-cola says its systems were breached in 2009 by Beijing-backed hackers, while it was trying to buy China's Huiyuan Juice Group
- The US Pentagon said it was hacked by the Chinese military in 2007
- China says hacking is illegal under its laws and that it is a victim of such attacks itself
By Mark McDonald - International Herald Tribune - The Global Edition of the New York Times
October 18, 2012
China was at the center of one of the harshest exchanges during the U.S. presidential debate on Tuesday night, with President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, both flashing their tough-on-Beijing credentials. But the politician who really knows about China was not on the stage, although he had tried to be.
Jon M. Huntsman Jr., who campaigned for the Republican nomination, has solid connections to both candidates: He served as the U.S. ambassador to China under Mr. Obama until April 2011, and when Mr. Huntsman abandoned his campaign in January, he immediately endorsed Mr. Romney.
As they prep and do role playing for their final debate, both candidates might do well to recruit Mr. Huntsman for a lay of the land on China. The debate, set for Monday in Boca Raton, Florida, will focus on foreign policy issues, with China one of the selected topics.
In a fascinating new interview with Isaac Stone Fish of Foreign Policy magazine, Mr. Huntsman was asked about the differences between the two candidates in their approach to China.
"Well, they differ in some senses in the levers of power that are being pulled," he said. "I think Obama has chosen more the soft levers of power, and Romney is at least articulating some of the hard levers of power, where in reality, we need a combination of both.
"During campaign season, you never want to talk about anything except the hard levers of power. But we're also trying to get over 10 years of war in the Middle East that have set us back enormously economically and diplomatically, and in terms of loss of life. And that's a reality that we're not having a conversation about."
Beijing canceled Mr. Huntsman's visa last month, he told Mr. Stone Fish, as he was preparing to travel to China to make a speech. (This probably has not happened very often in peacetime diplomacy, a country refusing entry to a former ambassador, especially for fear that he would give a speech.)
"Why? Because I talk too much about human rights and American values, and they know that," said Mr. Huntsman, who speaks Mandarin. "And at a time of leadership realignment, the biggest deal in 10 years for them, they didn't want the former U.S. ambassador saying stuff that might create a narrative that they would have to fight. I understand that.
"But when the transition is done, the crazy American ambassador will be let back in, and I can say whatever I want. As they used to tell me when I was over there was 'Women zhongguo ye you zhengzhi' -- 'We have politics too in China.' "
Mr. Huntsman said he was subsequently approved for entry -- to attend a board meeting. No speechmaking.
A condensed excerpt from Mr. Stone Fish's interview:
Put yourself in the shoes of the moderator at the upcoming foreign-policy debate on Oct. 22. What do you think he should ask about China?
What are the core philosophical drivers that inform the thinking of the candidates? What are our national interests at play? How do we maximize our position in the Asia-Pacific region, understanding that China is the centerpiece geographically. And fourth, given that it is the relationship of the 21st century, how do we intend to sustain the cyclicality that is inherent in a large, complicated relationship?
Are you surprised that China hasn't become a bigger issue in the campaign?
Beyond it being used as a political tool rhetorically, we've had very little talk of China at a time when we ought to be having a substantive conversation, because it is the relationship that will matter the most in the 21st century.
What's your understanding of what Chinese officials think about all this rhetoric and what's behind it? Do they see this as one of the downsides of democracy, or of Americans playing into the fears of American decline?
I think it's happened for so long that they've grown to expect it during the election season. I think it affected them more in the earlier years, but now they've grown accustomed to the political cycle, just as we've grown accustomed to the leadership cycles in China, where they do the same thing to us. We just have a bigger megaphone. And they tend to be a little more sensitive, because face still matters a whole lot in terms of human interaction.
The current U.S. ambassador to China, Gary F. Locke, revealed Wednesday that he had traveled last month to a Tibetan area of western China where "dozens of Tibetans disaffected with Chinese rule have set themselves on fire," as my colleague Edward Wong reported.
Mr. Locke visited two Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Aba Prefecture of Sichuan Province. He went there, he told The Times, "to see it for myself."
The visit, which came during a wider trip to Chongqing, was noteworthy if only for the fact that Beijing permitted it. The area is tightly controlled by Chinese security forces and the issue of Tibetan autonomy and Buddhist activism is a highly sensitive one for Beijing.
Mr. Locke only revealed his trip on Wednesday. And for those belonging to the there-are-no-coincidences-in-politics school of thought, it was five years ago on Wednesday -- Oct. 17, 2007 -- that the Dalai Lama received the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington.
The award was met with fury and outrage from Beijing, and one senior official called it a "farce." The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who has lived in exile since 1959, is particularly reviled by the leadership in Beijing.
President George W. Bush attended the elaborate ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda and called the Dalai Lama "a man of faith and sincerity and peace."
By Radio FREE Asia
August 22, 2012
One member of a Chinese Christian summer school is beaten and others have to undergo a 'political' probe.
Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui have shut down a Christian summer school run by an unofficial "house church," beating at least one of its members and placing others under "political investigation," a church member said on Wednesday.
The educational camp, which was being run by a Protestant church not formally registered with the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Anhui's Linquan county, had 82 students enrolled from local primary and secondary schools, organizer Lu Gensheng said.
Lu said he was beaten by a government official after the teachers and student volunteers from the camp were taken to the local government office building in nearby Jiangzhai township. "They were swearing at us, and one guy came out and starting beating me; he said he was beating us Christians to see how we liked it," he said.
"It was in the courtyard of the township government, and there were 50 or more officials present...so I ran out of the main gate...where they beat me another time," Lu added.
He said police then bundled him in a car and took him to the township hospital.
The action came as Chinese authorities intensified their harassment of Christians, cracking down on unofficial worship across several Chinese provinces.
Lu said officers from the Linquan county police department, police from Jiangzhai township, and officials from the township government raided the camp at the weekend.
"They burst into our classroom [on Aug. 19] and took all of our teachers and students from a Beijing university to the township government offices," Lu said.
"Everyone was interviewed separately and had to sign [a guarantee statement]," he said. "They also made everyone leave Linquan county immediately, although we told them we hadn't broken any laws."
He said police had warned the church members during their interviews that they were attending an "illegal gathering."
Chinese authorities have recently moved to increase restrictions on the activities of China's house churches, whose members are estimated to number about 40 million according to government figures.
An officer who answered the phone at the Jiangzhai township police station denied that police had neglected to help Lu during the attack.
"How did we ignore him? We listened, and we dealt with the case," the officer said. "We investigated it."
But he declined to comment further. "This matter has been reported back to the county police department," he said.
Meanwhile, one of the student volunteers who was sent back to Beijing after the raid said that police had stormed into the classroom while he was giving a piano lesson to a student at the camp, which offered revision classes in key academic subjects, as well as cultural activities.
"They burst into the classroom suddenly during a piano lesson," said the student, who asked to remain anonymous. "They didn't knock, and they asked us what we were doing."
"They started filming and taking photographs of all the teaching materials we were using, and then they asked to see our ID," he said. "They told us to go home the very next day."
He said the volunteers had been enrolled by the state-backed Protestant group, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, in Beijing's Weigongcun district, and that their universities had been informed of the raid by Anhui police.
"My school told me that we had been accused of carrying out missionary work elsewhere...and they said we would have to undergo a new political investigation," the student said.
"I don't know what sort of impact this whole affair is going to have on me," he said. "Four of my classmates have already been investigated."
'Three-Self' state church group
Earlier this month, members of an unofficial Christian group in the eastern province of Jiangxi said they had come under strong pressure from local authorities to join the Three-Self church group backed by the Communist Party, and to hand over confidential lists of members.
House churches, which operate without official registration documents and without the involvement of the local religious affairs bureaus, come in for surveillance and repeated raids, especially in the more rural areas of the country, according to overseas rights groups.
The State Department's 2011 Religious Freedom Report that reviewed the situation across the globe last year slammed China, saying there was a "marked deterioration" in Beijing's respect for and protection of religious rights in the world's most populous nation.
It cited increased restrictions on Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns and clampdowns on religious practices as well as "severe" repression of Muslim Uyghurs in the volatile Xinjiang region.
Officially an atheist country, China nonetheless has an army of officials whose job is to watch over faith-based activities, which have spread rapidly.
Party officials are put in charge of Catholics, Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, and Protestants. Judaism isn't recognized and worship in nonrecognized temples, churches, or mosques is against the law.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.
By Radio FREE Asia
August 08, 2012
Uyghurs are punished for religious activities deemed illegal by the authorities.
Chinese authorities in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang are continuing to punish those who hold "unauthorized" religious events during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to an exile group.
As Muslim Uyghurs entered their third week of dawn-to-dusk fasting and prayers, a spokesman for the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress said that authorities in the southern Xinjiang city of Aksu had detained seven people for "illegal religious activities" and fined nearly 100 for unauthorized study of the Quran.
Authorities in Aksu's Kuchar county staged a number of raids since the beginning of August, detaining seven Uyghurs for "incitement to illegal gathering and illegal recitations of the Quran," spokesman Dilxat Raxit said in an interview.
He said that nearly 100 Uyghurs--including women and children--had been fined between 50 yuan (U.S.$7.80) and 3,000 yuan (U.S.$471) for studying the Islamic holy book in unauthorized sessions since Ramadan began at the end of July.
"During Ramadan, the authorities have been targeting Uyghur people's beliefs in an increasingly provocative manner," Raxit said.
"This will cause greater friction leading directly to more unrest."
He said that authorities in Kuchar county alone had reported four cases of "illegal religious activities" linked to 187 illegal religious publications and 35 media disks on official websites.
"Officials at a number of local government departments that we contacted have denied the detention of Uyghurs in Kuchar county or the fining of almost 100 people," Raxit said.
He added that security personnel in military uniforms had detained 22 Uyghurs at checkpoints set up on national highways near the Silk Road cities of Kashgar and Hotan in the first week of Ramadan.
Meanwhile, Raxit said his group had received reports of 13 Uyghurs from Aksu and Kashgar being detained in the regional capital Urumqi in the first week, with a further two detained in Kashgar's Maigaiti county for carrying unauthorized religious materials that "harmed China's unity" in the second week.
Calls to the Kuchar county police department went unanswered during office hours on Tuesday.
He said that curbs remained on Uyghurs in Urumqi, which recently saw heightened tensions around the third anniversary of deadly ethnic riots in July 2009.
He said mosques in Urumqi were being guarded inside and out by armed security personnel, and that Muslims attending Friday prayers had to show identity cards on entering and leaving the mosques, as well as submit to searches by armed guards.
He said the city's mosques were closed up at all other times.
An official who answered the phone at the Xinjiang regional minority religious affairs department said that no one was banned from studying the Quran, and that no one would be fined for doing so.
"No one is fined for studying the Quran," the official said. "They can read it as and when they want."
But he appeared to imply that Uyghurs were limited to reading religious materials approved by the government.
"The Quran is fine, and religious materials that have been published according to regulations are fine too," the official said.
However, an official who answered the phone at a mosque in Urumqi denied that the mosques were closed except for Friday prayers.
"That's not the case," the official said. "They are open and operating all day."
"There aren't any security people here, and there are five prayers every day."
However, an announcement on the Tianshan district government website detailed a number of security measures aimed at "preventing criminal elements from harming national security and stability" on the third Friday prayers of Ramadan on Aug. 3.
It said the government would be targeting anyone who used religious activities "to incite [the public] mood, or to create social conflict," and called on district officials to "carry out propaganda work in support of harmony and stability inside places of worship."
In the Tianshan district's Wulabo community, teams of officials had been sent to carry out spot checks on mosques in the district, and to register the names of anyone coming in or out, checking their bags for fear of terrorist attacks, the report said.
Uyghur civil servants and members of China's ruling Communist Party have long been banned from fasting during Ramadan, which is due to end in the three-day feast of Eid al-Fitr around Aug. 20 this year.
The authorities, wary of instability and the threat to the ruling Chinese Communist Party's grip on power, often link Uyghurs in Xinjiang to violent separatist groups, including the Al-Qaeda terror network.
In October, Xinjiang courts sentenced four Uyghurs to death for violence in Kashgar and Hotan in July 2011 which left 32 people dead.
Uyghurs say they are subjected to political control and persecution for seeking meaningful autonomy in their homeland and are denied economic opportunities stemming from Beijing's rapid development of the troubled region.
Reported by Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.
By FRANCE24 International News 24/7
August 01, 2012
Beijing reacted furiously Wednesday to new US sanctions imposed on a Chinese bank over transactions with Iran, urging Washington to revoke them and saying it would lodge an official protest.
China's foreign ministry urged the United States to lift the sanctions on the Bank of Kunlun, which it said violated the "norms of international relations" and damaged relations between Beijing and Washington.
US President Barack Obama on Tuesday imposed new economic sanctions on Iran's oil export sector and on a pair of Chinese and Iraqi banks accused of doing business with Tehran.
Obama said the new measures underlined the United States' determination to force Tehran "to meet its international obligations" in nuclear negotiations, according to a statement released by the White House.
The US president accused the Bank of Kunlun and the Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq of arranging transactions worth millions of dollars with Iranian banks already under sanctions because of alleged links to Tehran's weapons program.
In a brief statement, China's foreign ministry expressed "strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition" to the US move and said it would officially protest the decision.
"Citing its domestic law, the US imposed sanctions on a Chinese financial institution, which seriously violates the norms of international relations and damages China's interests," the ministry said.
"China has regular relations with Iran in the energy and trade fields, which have no connection with Iran's nuclear plans," it added.
The banking dispute comes after Washington and Beijing clashed last month over proposed United Nations' sanctions against Syria, which were vetoed by China and Russia, provoking criticism by the Obama administration.
The US has steadily worked to punish Iran over its nuclear development, which it has describes as a key global security threat.
Iran says it has a right to enrich uranium for civilian nuclear energy and research. Western powers, however, fear it is attempting to stockpile enough highly-enriched fuel to have a "break-out capability" to build a bomb.
The latest sanctions came on the same day the US State Department branded Iran "an active state sponsor of terrorism" in its 2011 annual terrorism report.
Separately, the US Treasury Department said that Bank of Kunlun provided services to at least six Iranian banks that have been placed under US sanctions because of their alleged roles in Iran's weapons of mass destruction programs.
Bank of Kunlun declined to comment on the announcement to impose sanctions.