Feb 28

Happy New Year of the Tiger! Continue reading »

Feb 28

New York Times recently revealed two schools in China might the be the source of recent Google attack – Jiaotong University (known for its accomplishment in international computing contests) and Lanxiang Vocational School (known for its poor student accommodations, tacky infomercial).

While I have no problem with reports connecting eggheads at Jiaotong University hacking Google, it puzzled me how a 3rd rate voc tech for high school dropouts was implicated. So I decided to dig a little deeper. Continue reading »

Feb 25

Prof. Bi Yantao: Greetings! I am very happy for having this opportunity to ask on issues which are closely followed by the people inside China.

When looking at the Tibet issue, I pay special attention to the term “Greater Tibet”. I have repeatedly read the text of your statement on ‘Greater Tibet’ (including the English version). You said, “Tibet is Tibet. There is no greater or smaller Tibet”. However, the fact of the matter is, during the dialogue process between the Envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Beijing, the issue of one autonomous administration for all the Tibetan people has been raised. Obviously, it seeks to unify Tibetan areas in Sichuan, Yunnan and Qinghai Provinces into the present day Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Given the size of administration, it is indeed a ‘Greater Tibet’. Therefore, on account of that, the ‘Greater Tibet’ which Beijing asserts is not wrong because the reference was made from the present status of Tibet. You have, on one hand opposed the usage of word ‘Greater’ as in ‘Greater Tibet’, while on the other hand, maintained that ‘size should not matter whether big or small’. Are not these two statements contradictory?
Continue reading »

Feb 22

The Wellcome Collection is hosting a symposium on China on 26 and 27 of February.

This two-day symposium, ‘China: Birth and belonging’, starts with a curated evening of performance and is followed by a day of discussion and learning. International experts will explore the complex nature of Chinese identity, with sessions on ancient ideas of the body, individualisms, the diaspora, and contemporary biomedical ethics and science – as well as plenty of time for audience debate.

The speakers include Professor Rana Mitter from the University of Oxford, speaking on the Chinese history of conflict, and Professor Therese Hesketh from the University College London Centre from International Health and Development, who will be exploring the impact of the one-child policy.

Tickets are £30 (£20 for concessions) for the entire two-day programme, including entrance and a guided tour of the acclaimed Identity exhibition, as well as refreshments throughout and lunch.

For more information and to book tickets, visit: www.wellcomecollection.org/china.

Seaming To.jpg (27 KB)

Yuen Fong Ling.jpg (61 KB)

Brendan Fan.jpg (37 KB)

Feb 20

H/T to Chops for the NYT article where Lanxiang Technical School, a vocational school in Shandong, was outed as a secret base for Chinese government’s cyber war effort. Here are few reactions from Chinese bloggers:

(A place known for its culinary program have such a huge secret)

(Forget learning computers at Tsinghua, Lanxiang is awesome.)

(This school has won the lottery)

(Lanxiang Technical School students have the ability to attack google?)

(an essay titled “Why Lanxiang Vocational Is Better Than Harvard”, satirizing the “X University is better than Harvard” Chinese internet meme)

Feb 13

Going along with my intention to write about things that are lighter during this New Year’s season, I’d like to share with you an article I came across Time magazine today. The article is titled Why France’s National Identity Debate Backfired. Here is a short excerpt. Continue reading »

Feb 11

While the Chinese government prefers development over human rights (like freedom of religion and speech), the Indian government, while guaranteeing these rights, neglects development.

Both India and China face the problems of separatism. Indian Naxalite movements and the recent riots and uprisings in Xinjiang and Tibet further highlights the need for respective governments to tackle the issue seriously.
Continue reading »

Feb 10

By Bi Yantao (China Daily)

Updated: 2010-02-10 07:49

Freedom of the press has played an essential role in Western history. In the war against feudalism, the emerging bourgeois used press freedom as a weapon to fight censorship; in their global expansion, Western powers made use of it as an effective tool to project power.

Looking back at history, John Milton, the great English poet and political scholar, was the first man who gave a clear definition of freedom of the press. When he published a pamphlet on divorce, he had, in fact, broken the Licensing Order of 1643, which instituted pre-publication censorship. Therefore, he was asked to come to congress for an inquiry, and that was how the world famous Areopagitica was published. In his work, Milton argued forcefully against this form of government censorship and parodied the idea, writing “when as debtors and delinquents may walk abroad without a keeper, but unoffensive books must not stir forth without a visible jailer in their title”.

Although at the time it did little to halt the practice of licensing, it would be viewed later a significant milestone as one of the most eloquent defenses of press freedom.

In this renowned defense, Milton declared freedom of the press as God’s will, and thus a basic right of the citizen. Of course, the glorious poet was called upon to act as a press censor himself in 1651. But his ideal was far-reaching.

The basic purpose of Milton’s press freedom was to defend individual rights. With contributions from writers and thinkers, arguments for press freedom became a guiding principle during both the American and the French revolutions.

In 1776, the Virginia Declaration of Rights listed the essence of press freedom clearly in its text: The freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty and can never be restrained but by despotic governments. However, in reality, they have the gate-keeping theory in communication, which says all information that enters the social net is always filtered so that it won’t harm the gate-keeper’s interests.

The history of being deprived of press freedom had left a deep impression upon the emerging capitalist class. That was why they listed press freedom as one of the fundamental principles while designing their own state system. After centuries of development, freedom of the press has become an indispensable part of Western democracy today, and also an essential pillar of the Western political system.

No power, individual or group, dares to pose any challenge to the sacred concepts of democracy and liberty in Western nations. That’s part of the reason why Western politicians try their best to make themselves look like guardians of democracy and liberty while they have to control the press as well.

The key point is they are sophisticated at dealing with the press. Instead of interfering with media outlets directly, the politicians control the press by only providing the information they want the public to know. Thanks to the efforts of political consultants and spin doctors, such measures have become so sophisticated that they can be employed perfectly.

Shan Renping, a media commentator in China, described Western press freedom perfectly: The so-called freedom of the press is limited only to their shared value system, and serves the interests of mainstream Western society. Whenever other interest groups are involved, the mask of freedom will drop, revealing the face of a tyrant. His words deserve our attention.

Western scholars are also making important contributions to the study of that press freedom.

Susan L. Carruthers, a British scholar, reached a conclusion: Like the state and its enemy, media on both sides have also become rivals in her book The Media at War: Communication and Conflict in the Twentieth Century.

A British political philosopher has pointed out that most wars in the modern age are fought through the media. John Dulles, the former US secretary of state, also said it was nonsense that there could be those who do not believe in the power of propaganda and moral pressure. And Bill Clinton, the former US president, was more direct in expressing the same opinion.

Two other political scholars, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, have described in their co-written book, Empire: “The basic hypothesis is that sovereignty has taken a new form, composed of a series of national and supranational organisms united under a single logic of rule. This new global form of sovereignty is what we call Empire”. They counted the communication system as one of the three pillars supporting the regime, while the other two are military and finance. An important question can be raised from their statement: How can media outlets remain objective and fair while they are employed as tools for national strategy?

The world-renowned linguistic, Noam Chomsky, has written a book, Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance, in which he said the US government had an “imperial grand strategy” for more than half a century. Several international observers have also criticized US diplomacy as finding excuses for interference and intrusions in the affairs of other nations. From “a war to end all wars” to “anti-terrorism”, so many beautiful reasons have become excuses for US global strategy.

And British journalist John Kampfner says in his new book, Freedom For Sale, that democracy, liberty and capitalism rely heavily upon each other. A silent compact exists between regimes and the people: As long as the people do not challenge the social order by resistance, the regime will let them stay in peace. The same rule applies to the media. Sadly, the same rule also applies to international affairs.

Therefore, two new functions have been granted to press freedom: Being employed by media outlets to resist governmental news blackouts, and serving as an effective strategy to polish their image.

In order to preserve global hegemony, certain Western powers are trying their best to consolidate soft power. At this time, when such glittering phrases like “war against terror” and “democracy and liberty” render service to national interests, media outlets are also facing the danger of becoming strategic tools. Classical theories that explain this transformation of role are hard to come by, and post-modernists are resorting to the belief that “there is no absolute truth”.

Therefore let’s pay our tributes to the media professionals who are defending professional ethics. They are the last guardians of the tradition of honor.

The author is director of the Center for Communication Studies, Hainan University; and also director of the Communication Research Center of Sanlue Institute, a think tank based in Beijing.

(China Daily, February 10, 2010, page 9)


Feb 08

As the Chinese New Year approaches, I think I should write some lighter posts.  So here is something funny I stumbled across on WSJ’s China Realtime Report: Continue reading »

Feb 06

Fellow reader Josef pointed out a NYT article that reported the recent Operation Aurora malware that attacked Google CN contained identifiable code from China, and it implicated the Chinese government. The journalist relied on a blog written by security expert Mr. Joe Stewart of SecureWorks.

However on closer examination, Mr. Stewart’s “China code” claim seems to have some problem:

1) A follow-up published by The Register on 1/26 contradicted the claim the CRC algorithm was not known outside China. This 4-bit CRC algorithm is not from China, but has been around for twenty years in the device application arena. Once this fact is public, several code samples outside China have been found.

2) Mr. Stewart seems to have neglected the fact variable names are stripped out during code compilation, when he alluded to a variable name in the Aurora machine code. There appears to be no link between the “crc_ta[16]” variable he identified as Chinese, and the machine code in Aurora. The variable name “crc_table[16]” would’ve compiled to the same machine code, and is widely cited by US programmers, does this mean the virus is written by the US government?

3) Mr. Stewart’s citations, a Chinese white paper containing the CRC algorithm, and code snippet found by Googling the identified variable name, both turned up different code than what’s in Aurora.

Specifically, the Aurora code contains a 12-bit shift optimization (found as early as 1988 according to The Register article):

t = crc16 >> 12;

while the code passed around on Chinese sites is unoptimized code using two divisions:


What’s most troubling, however, is not these technical deficiencies. Mr. Stewart seems to have gone beyond science, technology, and made the political, ideological leap that the Chinese government is involved, while nothing he cited supports this claim – and our supposed impartial media seems to be all too happy to repeat these half-truth and twist of facts.

Feb 04

High-speed rails (HSR) have been built in China at a fanatic pace. Figure this will be an entry to get the debate started.

The first HSR, the Shanghai Maglev Train, was completed in late 2003. It was a technical trial and showcase. After its completion and initial operation, the Maglev technology was deemed too expensive to build and maintain. China decided to roll out its national HSR system with the wheel-based technology. Here is a map of China’s HSR system in 2020:
Continue reading »