China-based hacks into commercial and political networks across the planet have made the news again, with the Trend Micro report on an attack called LuckyCat that targeted Asian defense systems as well as Tibetan networks. The attack was traced back to a graduate of Chengdu’s Sichuan University, Gu Kaiyuan. Gu currently works for Tencent and both he and the company denied that he had anything to with the attacks.
Past attacks also may also have originated in Chengdu – most notably the Ghostnet attacks that were traced back to the University of Electronic Science and Technology in April 2010. Back then we wrote Chengdu’s Spy Network, which included an interview with a graduate of UESTC who told us point blank that the PLA had actively recruited in his school.
Considering the targets and efforts by security firms like Trend Micro to trace the attacks back, it seems like a no-brainer that the Chinese government is behind the attacks. Spying is big business in China and has both helped firms like Huawei and Pangang and many others get a leg up on their international competitors. The rampant espionage can also backfire, as Huawei has learned time and again in its efforts to acquire foreign assets.
All of these attacks have so far garnered little response from the West. Some pundits say that the West is refusing to disclose the severity of the attacks in order to keep the damage secret, others feel that the spy war rages and only the Chinese spies ever make it into the media, because the Chinese media either will not or cannot report on whatever attacks China has suffered.
But we now have a very vocal, very famous combatant that has thrown their collective hat in the ring with a serious of defacements and announcements: AnonymousChina.
Can it be denied that the US is actively engaging China’s border nations in an attempt to contain and control China? It seems pretty clear to most observers that such was the case years ago – Kissinger commented on the idea of containment back in 2005 – but with the recent moves in Myanmar and Darwin, it seems quite clear that the US has no intention of “sitting back” while China slowly takes control of the Pacific.
Is that even the case, that China was “taking control of the Pacific”? Now we can never really now because containment implies, and in a very clear way demands, a reciprocating outward pressure from China itself to puncture the box. A city won’t start digging trenches and tunnels and seeking ways out of a siege until it finds itself besieged.
Today I read Murong Xuecun’s speech given in Oslo. The things he described in his speech are clearly happening all around us and I have rarely, if ever, met a Chinese who will dispute much of what he said. In fact, most of the conversations that end up dealing with the woes of China are initiated by Chinese friends. I try not to start a China rant because all anyone really has to ask me is “Why are you here?” and thus ends the rant.
But Chinese don’t have that option. This is their motherland and that fact is at the core of what keeps people in line, no matter how much they complain online or with their friends. The whole society is constantly at work to bring the young and the rebellious back into the fold of acceptable behavior. Every facet of life is controlled by a burden of history that is backed up by proverbs and stories.