Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Google’s duel with China: A loaded draw? [Straits Times]

Google’s duel with China: A loaded draw?
New York Times
Source – Straits Times, published July 11, 2010

Shanghai – The tense standoff that began in January with Google’s unprecedented rebuke of China’s Internet censorship rules appeared to ease last Friday with a compromise that may allow both sides to claim a partial victory.

Google said that Beijing has agreed to renew the company’s licence to operate a website in mainland China, months after Google said it would stop censoring search results in China. Google’s challenge of Beijing’s authority, which followed a series of sophisticated online attacks which Google said originated in China, put into question the US firm’s ability to do any business in the world’s largest Internet market.

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said last Friday that the renewal ‘was the outcome we were hoping for’. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Google Cyber-attack 2010, International Relations, Internet, Media, New York Times, Soft Power, Straits Times

Google’s China fate hangs in limbo [China Daily]

Google’s China fate hangs in limbo
By Wang Xing
Source – China Daily, published July 07, 2010

Google China's headquarters in Zhongguancun, Beijing. The company's market share in China fell to 30.9 percent in the first quarter of this year. Photo - China Daily

BEIJING – Google Inc’s application to renew its Internet Content Provider (ICP) license in China is being reviewed by the government and it may take some time before the results are announced, the Ministry of Industrial and Information Technology said on Tuesday.

The government response comes after the search giant revamped the homepage of its Google.cn site on Monday by providing links to music, translation and shopping services apart from adding the old ICP license number at the bottom of the page.

“We are still examining their application,” said Wang Lijian, a ministry spokesman. The ministry is responsible for granting operating licenses for websites in the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, China Daily, Chinese Model, Communications, Google Cyber-attack 2010, International Relations, Internet, Media, Politics, Soft Power

Chinese government set to reject Google compromise [The Age]

Chinese government set to reject Google compromise
ARI SHARP
Sydney Morning Herald
Source – The Age, July 1, 2010

Flowers, fruits and a bottle of liquor, items associated with a traditional Chinese funeral rituals, are placed on Google's logo outside the company's China headquarters in Beijing in January. Photo: AP

Google will be shut out of China within days if the Chinese government rejects the search engine company’s last-minute offer of a compromise on the filtering on search results.

The website will go dark for users in China if the government refuses to continue the company’s internet content provider licence, which was due for renewal last month.

The company and the authoritarian government have been at loggerheads since March, when Google refused to meet demands to censor its search results, directing users seeking its Chinese site to its unfiltered Hong Kong-hosted site instead.

In a post on Google’s blog, its chief legal officer, David Drummond, said under that arrangement, the company did not expect the licence would be renewed. ”It’s clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials that they find the redirect unacceptable,” he wrote yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Communications, Google Cyber-attack 2010, Influence, International Relations, Internet, Media, Politics, Technology, The Age

Chinese cyber attackers hit Optus [The Age]

“Earlier this week, News Ltd’s Australian IT security manager, Bob Hinch, told a press briefing in Sydney that the company has had numerous attacks aimed at its infrastructure in Australia and around the globe, ZDNet reported.

Hinch said the attacks “especially” originated from the Chinese government and claimed they were often accompanied by emailed extortion notices demanding the retraction of articles.”

This story is made more interesting by the contrasting views of the comments garnered. Check them out at the end of this article. For one thing, I am glad there is a balance of views, quite surprised though to see Singapore being linked to the Chinese – it looks like the association with China is firmly etched in many minds.

– – –

Chinese cyber attackers hit Optus
ASHER MOSES
Source – The Age, published April 15, 2010

The Optus network was in disarray yesterday following cyber attacks from China, which affected a number of its customers including Australia’s national news agency, AAP.

Web-based attacks originating from China have become a growing issue for Australian businesses and government departments.

In January, at the opening of the Cyber Security Operations Centre, the government revealed that Defence had investigated about 200 electronic security incidents on its own network every month in 2009. It also responded to about 220 incidents reported by other Australian government agencies last year.

Optus said that, about 1.10pm yesterday, one of its corporate customers was hit with a “denial of service attack”, which originated in China. It would not say which customer had been targeted, but The Australian reported that the target was a multinational financial services company.

“The attack caused congestion on one of Optus’s international links leading to slow internet and delayed email for some Optus corporate customers,” an Optus spokeswoman said.

The publishers AAP, IDG and News Ltd are known to have been among the affected corporate customers.

Other Optus customers include the Australian Stock Exchange and several banks, with the telco claiming to handle 70 per cent of EFTPOS requests. However, it is not clear if these were affected.

Bruce Davidson, chief executive of AAP, said he did not believe the news agency was the intended target of the attacks. He said back-up and security procedures were immediately implemented and there was no interruption to AAP’s news services.

AAP IT director Peter Woods said: “The symptoms presented as very slow or unsuccessful attempts to browse to websites in overseas locations.”

Optus said the issue was resolved about 3.25pm by blocking the source of the attack. It said only corporate customers, not regular consumers, were affected.

Earlier this week, News Ltd’s Australian IT security manager, Bob Hinch, told a press briefing in Sydney that the company has had numerous attacks aimed at its infrastructure in Australia and around the globe, ZDNet reported.

Hinch said the attacks “especially” originated from the Chinese government and claimed they were often accompanied by emailed extortion notices demanding the retraction of articles.

But he said police often had no power to do anything about the attacks, and would not get involved until death threats had been made to journalists.

Google recently threatened to pull out of China completely after cyber attacks on the Gmail accounts of human rights activists. Many other major US companies, including Adobe, Yahoo and Symantec, have reportedly fallen victim to China-based attacks.

Source: smh.com.au

– – –

As the Internet in China is largely controlled by the Chinese government via its Security apparatus, it is hard not to assume that these attacks are at least sanctioned by the Government if not instigated by them and carried out by “authorised persons”. Have we seen any evidence of arrests and show trials of these instigators of denial of service attacks?

Wabster | Hurstville NSW – April 15, 2010, 3:34PM

– – –

The fact that the network packets came from a Chinese IP address says nothing about the physical person who initiated them. The people behind this can be anywhere, from Africa to Russia to US to Australia. These people normally use other computers as step stones.
In fact, it would be unbelievably stupid of any attacker to launch a DoS from their own computer. China only shows up in these attacks because their computers use counterfeit software a lot and get easily compromised and then used for attacking others.

Clueful | NSW – April 15, 2010, 4:20PM

– – –

Isn’t Optus owned by Chinese interests anyway? I mean, Singapore is predominately Chinese.

Tomato | Dixon Street – April 15, 2010, 4:17PM

– – –

Talk about shooting themselves in the foot. Optus is just the sales and marketing arm for Singtel – which is very Chinese, The network equipment contracts all go to Chinese companies, accounts payable is done in China, lots of their IT work is all done in China. Optus is about as Australian as Yum Cha. Now if they were hitting Telstra that would be a different story

Crypto | Sydney – April 15, 2010, 4:07PM

– – –

From what I understand the problem is that there are many old unprotected PCs in China connected to the internet and running old un-patched versions of Windows. These can be riddled with botnet style viruses which can be triggered remotely. So a DDOS attack supposedly emanating from China could have been triggered from Russia or even the US using a botnet army of compromised PCs physically residing in China. The real question is why the Optus network does not have any contingency plan to counter such an attack…

– – –

fredonas | North Sydney – April 15, 2010, 4:01PM
Um, seriously, the Chinese government controls internet and presumably either is behind or sanctions attacks like these. How is this not an international incident exactly? Is our government really THAT terrified of our red friends in the north?

– – –

IRG – April 15, 2010, 3:57PM
This article sounds a bit like from a liar teller, how can you believe the “denial of service attack” coming “especially” originated from the Chinese Government?

– – –

Critics | Sydney CBD – April 15, 2010, 3:46PM
What a terrible carry on.

How can they be taken seriously as a soverign state with this sort of childish behaviour.

cristo | Sydney – April 15, 2010, 3:44PM

Filed under: Australia, Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Communications, Google Cyber-attack 2010, Influence, International Relations, Internet, Media, The Age

China’s chance to redefine Net perimeters [Straits Times]

The virtual boundaries of the net are a strong reason for intellectual discourse for the Chinese. Like the Great Wall, the perimeters the Chinese seek to establish reflect their preference for a strong steady framework to operate within. The modern focus of the Chinese imagination is one of a revived China that no longer is susceptible to foreign impositions. Whilst I believe there is much to gain via cross-pollination (and the Chinese have, for a while), I think the West and East do not quite meet here, and the media spectacle this argument can provide (from both sides) is sometimes unnecessarily blown out of proportion.

Most of the mainland Chinese I meet have no problems with the breadth of things they can do with the net. I believe it is quite simple, the Chinese want to be able to define their own playing space when it comes to the net, and the dynamic tension of how this playing space is formed is being questioned for sincere, political, or capitalist intentions, that needs to be found out.

I especially agree with this bit – “Chinese intellectuals wholeheartedly embraced Western-style democracy in the 1980s. They have since become less sure of themselves or about a Western system transplanted to Chinese soil, not least because they have seen troubles inside even the strongest Western democracies.”

– – –

China’s chance to redefine Net perimeters
By Guobin Yang
Source – Straits Times, published 10 April 2010

Just as the creation of Special Economic Zones in the 1980s gradually opened China to foreign trade, Google's move could provide an opportunity for the Chinese leadership to experiment with a special Internet zone in Hong Kong and exemplify the benefits of openness. Photo - Straits Times

AFTER negotiations failed over uncensored Internet searches for China, Google stepped away from the country’s Web, and news reports and commentaries left the impression of a titanic struggle between the world’s most populated country and most popular search engine.

In fact, though, Google remains present in China, and by transferring Chinese search requests to its uncensored server in Hong Kong, Google may even be the harbinger of reform for China’s Internet.

Just as the creation of Special Economic Zones in the 1980s gradually opened China to foreign trade, Google’s move could provide an opportunity for the Chinese leadership to experiment with a special Internet zone in Hong Kong and exemplify the benefits of openness.

After four years operating in China and suffering recent attacks on its e-mail system, particularly accounts held by human rights activists allegedly from hackers in China, Google began rerouting requests for Google.cn to google.com.hk on March 22.

Media pundits warned of darkness descending in China, offering reminders of Google’s motto, ‘Don’t be evil’. The most recent hyped reports emerged on March 30, after Google disruptions for users in mainland China spurred instant media speculation about Chinese censors taking action against Google. In fact, the company server was down.

It may be just a matter of time before users in mainland China completely lose access to Google. Confrontations between Google and China could escalate. So far, at least, the clash is much less dramatic than portrayed in most media reports.

First of all, contrary to popular perceptions, Google has not closed Internet services in mainland China. It not only retains its research and development operations, but also keeps most of its search services there. As of this writing, Google’s video search service (video.google.cn/), online shopping service (www.google.cn/gouwu), Google map (ditu.google.cn/), Google music (www.google.cn/music/homepage), Google translation (translate.google.cn/#), Google finance (www.google.cn/finance), and a host of other services still operate under the Google.cn domain name. The main services redirected to Hong Kong are Google Images, Google News and the main search page.

Second, partly because many Google services are still available, Google’s move has not significantly affected mainland Internet users. Survey findings published in the February 2010 issue of Nature show that Chinese academic communities rely heavily on services such as Google Scholar, and the site remains available under the Google.cn domain name (scholar.google.cn/schhp?hl=zh-CN).

Although Google has not published data on access from mainland users to previously censored content such as the Tiananmen protests of 1989, do not expect to see major changes in Chinese netizens’ online search behaviour. Like Internet users elsewhere, the average Chinese user is more likely to seek entertainment rather than politics online. Those searching for political content know how to scale the firewalls.

Third, transnational corporations have not rallied to Google’s crusade against Chinese censors. The US domain-name registration company GoDaddy.com announced it would no longer register domain names in China. But no other major Western firms operating in China are in a hurry to leave the Chinese market – certainly not Google’s main competitors such as Yahoo! and Microsoft. For global firms in China, therefore, it’s business as usual.

Fourth, there are worries that the Chinese search engine market will become less innovative in Google’s absence and Baidu will become a monopoly. While legitimate, these worries may be unwarranted. After all, Google has not abandoned the Chinese market, and Baidu’s monopoly is far from secure, facing as it does competition from Yahoo! and Tencent, among others. Even without access to Google, Chinese users are not stuck with Baidu. More importantly, search engines are only part of the Internet market. When it comes to the Chinese Internet culture, one cannot overstate the power of social networking websites and good old portals, which encompass gigantic online communities. A check of the Alexa Web information site showed Google ranking first in the world and Baidu.com ranking eighth, trailed closely by China’s two largest portal sites qq.com, ranked 10, and sina.com.cn, ranked 14. Thanks to the dynamism and social productivity of their online communities, portals remain popular and competitive in China.

Of course, the China-Google spat has not been free of costs. By far, the biggest damage has been to China’s national image. Although Chinese censorship of the Internet has long been in the spotlight, Google’s move provided the most potent ammunition to critics for renewed condemnation. Activists in and outside China hailed Google for taking a bold stance in defence of Internet freedom.

Yet despite Google’s provocative style and media hype about an epochal duel, official reactions in China have been cool, with the Communist Party authorities playing down the spat in the domestic media.

Beijing also resisted politicising the issue. Despite Chinese media comments about Google’s links with US spy agencies, the government has not tied the conflict to Sino-United States relations. The regime will calculate how Google’s new approach will affect its own legitimacy and that will determine whether, to what extent, and for how long the authorities allow rerouted and uncensored Google.com.hk to be accessible from the mainland.

Google’s moderate approach will not necessarily undermine the legitimacy of the regime. It may even be an opportunity in disguise for the Chinese leadership to experiment with reforming its stringent Internet policies.

Gradualist and experimental reforms are consistent with China’s pragmatist developmental strategy. In recent years, the Chinese government has demonstrated some degree of flexibility in responding to citizen demands and input. It has launched initiatives to strengthen the channels of state-citizen communication, such as by promulgating information disclosure acts and institutionalising public hearings on environmental issues. Wary as they are of the Internet’s subversive potential, top leaders have publicly acknowledged the Web’s constructive role in channelling public opinion and exposing corruption.

However passionate Chinese citizens are for free speech or broader political change, nowadays people are more likely to favour a gradualist approach.

Chinese intellectuals wholeheartedly embraced Western-style democracy in the 1980s. They have since become less sure of themselves or about a Western system transplanted to Chinese soil, not least because they have seen troubles inside even the strongest Western democracies.

Still critical of authoritarianism, they have no clear vision, or confidence, of a workable solution to the political challenges facing China today.

The rise of a strong public discourse of civil society in China, rather than strident calls for democracy, reflects this intellectual dilemma. Building a civil society is at least a useful first step. Despite the political control of the Internet, a vibrant current of online activism has surged for years.

Maintaining open access to Google’s Chinese search engine in Hong Kong would be consistent with this evolutionary logic of China’s reform agenda and will be an instructive way of testing whether a freer Internet will spell more or less trouble for the government. Chinese leaders will find that a better informed citizenry can help curb corruption, promote social justice, hold government officials accountable as well as aid in enforcing laws and regulations.

At a March 27 conference in Shenzhen, several prominent Internet entrepreneurs called for the establishment of a special Internet zone in Shenzhen, China’s first Special Economic Zone which helped to jump-start the country’s economic reform. Perhaps the rerouted Google.cn could serve as the first of such a free special Internet zone. Its success would show that a more open Internet is in the interest of the Chinese citizenry.

The writer is an associate professor at Barnard College, Columbia University. He is the author of The Power Of The Internet In China: Citizen Activism Online.

YALEGLOBAL ONLINE

Filed under: Communications, Culture, Google Cyber-attack 2010, Influence, International Relations, Internet, Media, Straits Times

Hong Kong’s richest man’s Internet group stops using Google [AsiaOne]

Hong Kong’s richest man’s Internet group stops using Google
AFP
Source – AsiaOne, published March 24, 2010

HONG KONG – The Internet company of Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing said Wednesday it had stopped using Google’s search services to “comply with Chinese regulations.”

The Hong Kong-listed TOM Group issued the statement on behalf of subsidiary TOM Online following Google’s decision to effectively shut down its Chinese search engine.

“TOM has stopped using Google’s search services after the expiry of the agreement,” the statement said.

“TOM reiterates that as a Chinese company, we adhere to rules and regulations in China where we operate our businesses.”

The Internet group, which runs online and mobile Internet services in mainland China, has stopped users visiting its website through Google’s search engine service.

Filed under: AsiaOne, Censorship, Communications, Google Cyber-attack 2010, Soft Power

Brin Drove Google to Pull Back in China [Wall Street Journal]

“…But nevertheless, in some aspects of their policy, particularly with respect to censorship, with respect to surveillance of dissidents, I see the same earmarks of totalitarianism, and I find that personally quite troubling.” Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin

– – –

Brin Drove Google to Pull Back in China
By JESSICA E. VASCELLARO
Source – Wall Street Journal Online, published March 24, 2010

Google co-founder Sergey Brin participates in a panel discussion in February. Photo - WSJ Online

Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin pushed the Internet giant to take the risky step of abandoning its China-based search engine as that country’s efforts to censor the Web and suppress dissidents smacked of the “totalitarianism” of his youth in the Soviet Union.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Brin, who came to the U.S. from Russia at the age of 6 in 1979, said the compromises to do business in the world’s largest Internet market had become too great. Finally, a cyberattack that the company traced to Chinese hackers, which stole some of Google’s proprietary computer code and attempted to spy on Chinese activists’ emails, was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

China has “made great strides against poverty and whatnot,” Mr. Brin said. “But nevertheless, in some aspects of their policy, particularly with respect to censorship, with respect to surveillance of dissidents, I see the same earmarks of totalitarianism, and I find that personally quite troubling.”

Mr. Brin reluctantly agreed four years ago to launch a search engine in China that the company would censor to satisfy the government. But he said he began to have a change of heart after the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

As the glow of the Olympics faded, he said, the Chinese government began ratcheting up its Web censoring and interfering more with Google’s operations. Around that time, he said, the murky rules of doing business in China grew even murkier. Executives throughout the company grew more anxious about the policy, he said.

“China was ever-present,” he said. “One out of five meetings that I attended, there was some component specifically applied to China in a different way than other countries.”

On Jan. 12, Google said it would stop self-censoring its search engine in China, citing a major cyberattack that appeared to target the email of human rights activists. On Monday, Google began routing mainland Chinese users of its search engine to a site in Hong Kong that the company isn’t censoring.

After the cyberattack a heated debate ensued in the company about whether to cease censoring, say people familiar with the matter. Mr. Brin and other executives prevailed over Chief Executive Eric Schmidt and others who felt Google ought to stay the course in China, say people familiar with the discussions. Mr. Brin said by the end, there was “pretty good consensus.”

Mr. Brin said that after that, his role was “somewhat tangential” as Google began drafting its plan to send Chinese users to its Hong Kong site. He also said the idea to reroute users was “actually relayed to us indirectly from the Chinese government,” although he declined to elaborate.

When asked if Mr. Schmidt and co-founder Larry Page were available for comment, a Google spokeswoman said Mr. Brin was speaking for the company.

The move appears to have left Google’s China business in jeopardy. On Wednesday, China Unicom Ltd., the country’s No. 2 mobile-phone operator, said it wouldn’t install Google’s search functions into new handsets given its decision to stop censoring. Google employees in China are contemplating defecting to rivals such as Microsoft Corp., according to recruiters.

Beijing has called Google’s move “totally wrong” and warned the company must obey China’s laws. Internet experts are skeptical that China will let Google continue to direct Web users to Hong Kong. While Google isn’t censoring that site, China’s Internet filters are blocking many politically sensitive results for users in China.

While many Internet freedom proponents are cheering the move, few large companies have come out pledging their support. Privately, some Silicon Valley executives say they are confused by the reversal based on moral arguments alone.

One person familiar with the situation said the hacking—not just the attempted surveillance of activists—was also a major factor behind the decision. “They stole Google property. That was not insignificant,” the person said. A spokeswoman declined to comment on the attack.

Mitch Kapor, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, said Google’s moral stand made sense long term, because China will eventually get more open. “More businesses ought to follow ‘gut principles’ and shareholders and customers ought to support and encourage them to do so,” he said Wednesday.

Whether others will follow Google remains unclear. On Wednesday, Go Daddy Group Inc., a provider of Internet addresses, told members of Congress it would cut back its business in China, following new Chinese requirements for information about registrants. Google executive, Alan Davidson, spoke at the same hearing, urging the U.S. to prioritize Internet openness in trade discussions.

Mr. Brin sees Google’s China stance as a signal to other countries. For example, Google is concerned about a proposed filtering system in Australia, he said. The proposal would require Internet providers to filter out content that could be objectionable to children.

Google says the plan goes too far, threatening Australians’ freedom to use the Internet. An Australian minister has defended it as carrying over safety guidelines in place for other media, such as movies, to the Internet.

“One of the reasons I am glad we are making this move in China is that the China situation was really emboldening other countries to try and implement their own firewalls,” Mr. Brin said.

The 36-year-old co-founder said he was moved by growing evidence in China of repressive behavior reminiscent of what he remembered from the Soviet Union. Mr. Brin said memories of that time—having his home visited by Russian police, witnessing anti-Semitic discrimination against his father—bolstered his view that it was time to abandon Google’s policy.

To this day, Mr. Brin said, he and his family often reflect on the significance of their move. His father, he said, wanted to be an astrophysicist, but because of discrimination became a mathematician. Mr. Brin, by growing up in the U.S., had the freedom to pursue “his own entrepreneurial dreams,” he said. His father later became a professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland.Whether others will follow Google remains unclear. On Wednesday, Go Daddy Group Inc., a provider of Internet addresses, told members of Congress it would cut back its business in China, following new Chinese requirements for information about registrants. Google executive, Alan Davidson, spoke at the same hearing, urging the U.S. to prioritize Internet openness in trade discussions.

In the U.S., Mr. Brin focused on his studies. As a graduate student at Stanford University, he was on the student council, but he said he doesn’t recall getting involved in Internet-freedom issues. Instead, he spent most of his time at his computer, working with Mr. Page on the beginnings of Google.

As Google expanded beyond the U.S., China was a big test. Google set up a Beijing research-and-development center in 2005, and executives began to debate whether they should open up a search engine on Chinese soil—a move that would require them to filter out content they thought the Chinese government would deem objectionable.

Mr. Brin and Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, had the strongest reservations, said people familiar with the discussions, while Messrs. Page and Schmidt were more supportive of appeasing the Chinese government, arguing they could increase Chinese users’ access to information from within.

Around that time, Mr. Brin traveled to China to meet with other companies and see conditions first-hand. He recalls being particularly concerned that university students were having trouble accessing the Internet.

Mr. Brin said in the interview that launching a self-censored Chinese search engine was the right decision at the time. “We generally advanced the bar,” he said, adding that he continued to question the decision.

Mr. Brin said Google was still evaluating its options in China when it discovered it was struck by the cyberattack in late 2009. After Google found evidence the motivation was to peek at the emails of Chinese activists, Mr. Brin said, he had had enough.

“Ultimately, I guess it is where your threshold of discomfort is,” Mr. Brin said. “So we obviously as a company crossed that threshold of discomfort.”

—Scott Morrison contributed to this article.

Filed under: Censorship, Google Cyber-attack 2010, Media, Wall Street Journal

China Minister: Google must obey laws to stay [AsiaOne]

China Minister: Google must obey laws to stay
By Cui Xiaohuo
China Daily
Source – AsiaOne, 08 March 2010

Internet giant Google must obey Chinese law if it still wishes to continue to operate in the country, said Li Yizhong, Minister of Industry and Information Technology.

“If Google still plans to continue its operations in China, it must abide by Chinese laws and respect the wills of Chinese Internet users,” the minister told reporters on Monday during a plenary session of the annual legislative meeting at the Great Hall of the People.

When asked whether authorities are still in discussions with Google on Internet restrictions in China, the minister declined to respond.

“On this matter, Google knows it best itself,” the minister said.

The defiant California-based Internet search company revealed plans to cease operations in China on January 18, saying it no longer wishes to be under the pressure of China’s Internet restrictions.

Filed under: AsiaOne, Censorship, China Daily, Communications, Google Cyber-attack 2010, Internet

Senior PLA officer calls for Net control agency

Senior PLA officer calls for Net control agency
AFP
Source – Straits Times, 23 Feb 2010

BEIJING: A senior Chinese military officer has called for a new national body to enforce Internet controls, while China faced fresh claims yesterday about the source of hacking attacks on search giant Google.

United States analysts believe they have identified the Chinese author of the critical programming code used in the hacking attacks on Google and other Western companies, the Financial Times reported yesterday.

The disclosure of the cyber spying campaign has brought attention to the policies of the Chinese, who Western experts say have been using software vulnerabilities to steal commercial and military know-how, the newspaper said.

People’s Liberation Army Major-General Huang Yongyin said China needed to keep pace with the efforts of other big powers to fight online infiltration and attacks. ‘For national security, the Internet has already become a new battlefield without gunpowder,’ he wrote in this month’s issue of Chinese Cadres Tribune, a magazine published by the Communist Party’s influential Central Party School.

Maj-Gen Huang, who appears to play no direct role in China’s online policy, urged the government to surmount the fragmented control of the Net, preferably with a national administrative system.

He also called on China to reduce its reliance on foreign technology, which is vulnerable to attacks by ‘hostile forces abroad’.

Last month, Google threatened to pull out of China over complaints of censorship and hacking from within the country.

The New York Times reported last Thursday that the cyber attacks on Google had been traced to the Shanghai Jiaotong University and the Lanxiang Vocational School, which the newspaper said had military backing.

Yesterday, the Financial Times said US government analysts believe a Chinese freelance security consultant in his 30s wrote the part of the program that used a previously unknown security hole in the Internet Explorer Web browser to break into computers and insert the spyware.

The consultant, who posted pieces of the program to a hacking forum and described it as something he was ‘working on’, did not launch the attack, but Chinese officials had ‘special access’ to his programming, the Financial Times said, citing a researcher working for the US government.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Filed under: Censorship, Google Cyber-attack 2010, International Relations, Internet, Media, Straits Times

China school draws interest

China school draws interest
AFP
Source – Straits Times, 22 Feb 2010

BEIJING – A CHINESE school accused last week of links to cyberattacks on Google that have strained Sino-US ties has since received a flood of calls from students interested in attending.

The New York Times said attacks on the US Internet giant, which have prompted the firm to reconsider its long-term presence in China, were traced to computers at the Lanxiang Vocational School and Shanghai Jiaotong University.

Both institutions have denied involvement. But since the report, the Lanxiang school – located in the eastern province of Shandong – has reported a spike in enrolment inquiries.

‘We have been receiving phone calls from all over the country asking about our computer science programme, which is one of the most popular programmes in our school,’ an unnamed recruitment teacher told the state-run Global Times.

A woman in the school’s enrolment office, when asked by AFP whether the number of inquiries had spiked in recent days since the report, said ‘yes’ but declined further comment.

At Jiaotong University, a teacher in charge of press inquiries reiterated denial of any involvement in the cyberattacks, calling the New York Times report ‘baseless’ and saying it was ready to cooperate in any probe. — AFP

Filed under: Education, Google Cyber-attack 2010, Internet, Straits Times

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