I have been tearing through books recently, due to my snazzy iPad Mini. I did a review a couple weeks ago, and I like that type of post, so here goes another one, this time 4 (5?) books and not three.
I will review the first three here, and then do the last two – both by Hunter Thompson, in a separate post. It would be too much to swallow for the four of you who read this, so thank me in the comment section. Also, Thompson’s stuff is so different, so raw and wild and unique, that I think it needs its own little place. Not to take away from Hawking, Sagan or Zinn, they are great minds that have touched mine with their work … I just think that Hunter wouldn’t really fit in and kinda demands his own space. Anyway, it could also be that I just don’t have the back muscles to sit here and type for 3 hours about books I read for an audience of three, 2 of which won’t read past
Chen Guang Cheng’s great escape from house arrest, oppression and beatings has taken an awkward twist, with the activist in the custody of the Chinese government and the US administration feeling the heat from human rights activists across the world. The Twitter-verse turned from joyous to shocked to depressed as word came through from people like activist Zeng Jinyan and Chen’s lawyer, Teng Biao, that Chen was safe in the Embassy, then, suddenly, that he was leaving the US Embassy for Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital.
As soon as that news was reported, Chen’s supporters around the world let out a collective groan of dismay. Releasing Chen to the Chinese government is basically the kiss of death, no matter what assurances the Chinese authorities give concerning his safety and the safety of his family. Yet that is exactly what the US did. For several hours last night, the mood was both somber and furious as friends called for action, shook their heads at US diplomacy and worried that Chen would disappear, this time forever.
All things are murky now. Men in black suits and black cars picked up Zeng Jinyan this morning and she is now under house arrest, according to a tweet earlier today. Representative Chris Smith has called for a Congressional Hearing on Chen’s case and Chen himself told CNN’s Steven Jiang that the Embassy lied to him (must read interview transcript).
How did it come to this?
This essay might sound a bit familiar, if you read this blog, as I seem to be circling the idea of change as a possibility. Last essay I wrote on this topic was Silk Roads and Great Walls, and that dealt briefly with the high-level impediments, this one here is a look at the grassroots blockages …
Yesterday I went to visit the company that helps me handle fapiaos every now and then and I asked a few questions about visas. The visa situation for foreigners in China has always been a bit crooked, like pretty much everything else here, so I was only mildly surprised when she said “you’ll need a middleman to handle the documents for you”.
“In the past, you could just go to the visa office with your documents and hand them in directly,” I replied.
“Yes, but now the office will only accept applications from a middleman, for a much higher fee, because there is a woman in the office now and her brother is the main middleman.”
That surprised me. The matter of fact tone in which corruption in an official government office was just announced, to the snickers of nearby accounting girls, raised my eyebrows. Now that we had it out in the open, I could go ahead and ask a rhetorical question like,
“Is it always going to be like this?”
She tilted her head as if to think, smiled and said, yes, forever. This is our culture.
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.