China

Hong Kong: It’s a Revolution

Tuesday, 6 August, 2019

“In Hong Kong, revolution is in the air. What started out as an unexpectedly large demonstration in late April against a piece of legislation — an extradition bill — has become a call for democracy in the territory as well as independence from China and the end of communism on Chinese soil.” So writes Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China, in The National Interest. Snippet:

“Hong Kong people may be able to inspire just enough disgruntled mainlanders to shake their regime to the ground. If one thing is evident after months of protests, the youthful pro-democracy demonstrators are determined, as are millions of residents of the territory.

In a contest where neither side will concede, anything can happen. Chinese regimes, let us remember, fray at the edges and then sometimes fall apart. It could happen this time as well.”

Note this: “Some of the protest messages were impossible to miss. In Wanchai’s Golden Bauhinia Square, a magnet for tourists from other parts of China, kids spray-painted a statue with provocative statements such as ‘The Heavens will destroy the Communist Party’ and ‘Liberate Hong Kong.'”

Hong Kong revolts


Yay, Team America! From China and Ireland via Apple

Wednesday, 10 July, 2019

Apple celebrated the Women’s World Cup win by the USA with an all-female red, white and blue graphic. How very woke and patriotic. Up to a point. The same Apple announced at the end of June that its new Mac Pro will be assembled in China, not the USA, and the very same Apple uses Ireland as a haven to pay minimal taxes on the profits it makes on those Mac Pros. So much for patriotic bit. As regards the wokeness, the company’s Inclusion & Diversity page shows that 67 percent of Apple’s workforce self-identifies as “not women”, which allows lots of women lots of time to hone their dribbling skills in the run up to the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Think different indeed.

Apple wokeness


How China deploys Android malware at its borders

Saturday, 6 July, 2019

The Chinese authorities are are conducting a huge campaign of surveillance and oppression against the Muslim population of the Xinjiang region and foreigners crossing certain border checkpoints are being forced to install a piece of Android malware on their phones that gives all of their text messages as well as other data to the regime. Vice has the story. Snippet:

“The Android malware, which is installed by a border guard when they physically seize the phone, also scans the tourist or traveller’s device for a specific set of files, according to multiple expert analyses of the software. The files authorities are looking for include Islamic extremist content, but also innocuous Islamic material, academic books on Islam by leading researchers, and even music from a Japanese metal band.”

One of the most repulsive supporters of the awful Beijing regime is Martin Jacques, author of When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order. It was published in August 2016 but the resistance in Hong Kong has exposed the shabbiness of his world view.


China in Hong Kong

Sunday, 16 June, 2019

What’s going on in Hong Kong? For those of us not completely familiar with the situation, the BBC has created a useful explainer on Hong Kong and its relationship with the People’s Republic of China. The ongoing protests would seem to be about the extradition of “Hong Kongers” to Mainland China for trial, but a more fundamental struggle is taking place on the streets. All kinds of institutions are giving the citizens time and encouragement to demonstrate: small businesses, local bureaucracies and the unions. The teachers’ union is supporting student protesters and the transport union is backing bus drivers who deliberately slow down their service. Shopkeepers are handing out free water to demonstrators, while entrepreneurs are turning up with their employees to defend their civil rights.

Because Hong Kong is a huge economic asset for Beijing, the Communist apparatchiks face a dilemma. The island’s limited autonomy is based on a treaty that the mainland needs to respect to keep the money flowing, but this very autonomy is now undermining central government control. The authority of Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, has been irreparably damaged and it would appear that it’s only a matter of time now before the mandarins order the People’s Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong to carry out its core mission: attacking and killing fellow Chinese.

The United States gave Most Favored Nation status to China in 2000 and soon afterwards helped the country become a WTO member. The appearance of tanks on the streets of Hong Kong running over demonstrators defending democracy would have huge implications for Beijing and China’s Most Favored Nation trade status would be put in jeopardy. That would make the current trade dispute look like a minor matter.

The Atlantic has produced a powerful photo series on the Hong Kong protests. This is what real “Resistance” looks like.

Hong Kong


China most murderous

Friday, 7 June, 2019

When did it first become obvious that China was a totalitarian police state willing to do anything to advance its goals? Between 1958 and 1962 during Chairman Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward is the answer. That forceful transition from an agrarian culture to an industrial society cost millions of Chinese workers their lives. One estimate runs to an astounding 56 million deaths, making Mao the greatest mass murderer of all time. Then came the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), which led to persecution, torture and executions. Many more deaths and countless lives ruined were the price paid for this enormous cruelty and then, in 1989, Beijing’s tanks drove over democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in another round of savagery.

Since then China’s communists have become more refined in the control of their subjects. Instead of tanks, they’re using the latest surveillance technology to create “a social credit system.” According to the Washington Post:

“China has a radical plan to influence the behavior of its 1.3 billion people: It wants to grade each of them on aspects of their lives to reflect how good (or bad) a citizen they are. Versions of the so-called social credit system are being tested in a dozen cities with the aim of eventually creating a network that encompasses the whole country. Critics say it’s a heavy-handed, intrusive and sinister way for a one-party state to control the population. Supporters, including many Chinese (at least in one survey), say it’ll make for a more considerate, civilized and law-abiding society.”

How a “more considerate, civilized and law-abiding society” is formed when the population doesn’t share the same values as their overlords can be seen seen (or not seen) in Xinjiang in northwest China. It’s there that the autocrats and apparatchiks lock up the Uighurs without trial. Using images form Google Earth and the European Space Agency, John Sudworth of the BBC has documented this enormous crime against humanity in “China’s hidden camps“. As we stated here on Monday with the first of these postings on China, the “People’s Republic” is a menace to civilization.


How the Party Decided to Shoot Its People

Thursday, 6 June, 2019

“For some time, an extremely small group of people who stubbornly promoted bourgeois liberalization cooperated with foreign hostile forces to call for revising our constitution,” said Peng Zhen, the former chair of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, shortly after the Tiananmen Square massacre. His remarks can be found in The Last Secret: The Final Documents From the June Fourth Crackdown by New Century Press, a Hong Kong-based publisher. “They schemed to change our country’s basic political system and to promote in its place an American-style separation of three powers,” continued Peng Zhen. “They schemed to change our People’s Republic of democratic centralism led by the working class and based on the worker-peasant alliance into a totally westernized state of capitalist dictatorship.”

The speeches collected in The Last Secret show how today’s Chinese leadership continues to the study Tiananmen for guidance when it comes to dealing with reform and dissent. What’s behind the hardline approach being taken by President Xi Jinping today? Fear of another Tiananmen. While many in the West regard the 30-year anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre as part of China’s past, the country’s dictatorship see it as a frightening harbinger of the future. The regime has worked diligently to erase the events of 4 June 1989 from the memories of China’s people, but the Party knows that it must still shoot its people if the tyranny is to continue.

Tomorrow here, China, not Russia, is the biggest threat.

The Last Secret


Facial feature discovery for ethnicity recognition

Wednesday, 5 June, 2019

“The salient facial feature discovery is one of the important research tasks in ethnical group face recognition. In this paper, we first construct an ethnical group face dataset including Chinese Uyghur, Tibetan, and Korean.” So begins the abstract of a Chinese AI research paper on using facial features for identifying ethnic groups. The authors are Cunrui Wang, Qingling Zhang, Wanquan Liu, Yu Liu and Lixin Miao. The paper is available in the Wiley Online Library and it’s titled “Facial feature discovery for ethinicity [sic] recognition.”

The human rights implications of this should be obvious to everyone. The other thing that’s worth mentioning is that machine learning is out of the bottle and, while it can be used to do good, it can be used for evil purposes, too. If it’s going to be used to do evil, the most likely place for this to happen right now is China.

Tomorrow here, The Last Secret: The Final Documents From the June Fourth Crackdown.

Facial feature discovery for ethnicity recognition


Tank Man still haunts China’s dictators

Tuesday, 4 June, 2019

On this day in 1989, the so-called Chinese People’s Liberation Army slaughtered at least 2,000 peaceful protesters in and around Tiananmen Square. The most iconic photo of the 1989 events was taken on 5 June, the day after the carnage: A lone man stands before an array of battle tanks in Tiananmen Square. He carries two shopping bags. After the leading tank stopped, the man climbed aboard and spoke with the soldiers. He was eventually pulled back into the crowd and disappeared. The Chinese government claims it has never found him. Everyone else believe he is in an unmarked grave.

Tank Man has become the defining image of China’s Tiananmen Square protests. An individual standing in the way of mass oppression. Beijing now forbids discussing the massacre and wishes to erase Tank Man from history, but he lives on in memory.

Tomorrow here, China’s work on facial feature discovery for ethnicity recognition.

Tank Man


The China Menace

Monday, 3 June, 2019

Our posts this week will be devoted to China, a nation that has made authoritarianism terrifyingly efficient. One of the ways in which it has managed this feat is through the theft of Western intellectual property. Example: Huawei. Its name translates as “Accomplish for China,” and Huawei will do whatever China orders. China is Huawei and Huawei is China, in other words. But Huawei is not unique in this regard because no Chinese company is independent.

Founded in 1987. Huawei claims to be “employee-owned,” but it could not have become the world’s largest manufacturer of telecommunications network equipment and the second-largest maker of smartphones on its own. Allegations of theft have followed Huawei from its earliest days. Cisco Systems was one of its first targets. It sued Huawei in 2003 for the theft of source code for routers. The two companies settled in 2004, but they were back in the news in 2012 when Cisco disclosed that Huawei had copied source code, help screens and manuals.

The sheer shamelessness of Huawei’s thievery is breath-taking. Earlier this year, unsealed indictments handed down by a grand jury in the Western District of the State of Washington against two Huawei affiliates documented 10 Federal crimes relating to the theft of the intellectual property of T-Mobile. In the most brazen act of all, Huawei employees surreptitiously dismembered Tappy, a T-Mobile robot, and walked away with its arm.

Tomorrow here, Tank Man. The photo that China wants to erase from memory.

The China Menace


Huawei’s sinister EU campaign

Thursday, 23 May, 2019

With friends like these…

“The European Union is a great success story. Since the historical Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950, the integration process has brought Europeans unprecedented prosperity and stability.” So begins the sermon from Huawei, a front corporation for the Chinese Communist Party that also makes network equipment and phones. Two days ago, in its Orwellian-named Cybersecurity Transparency Centre in Brussels, this least transparent of companies, held a “debate” at which it “reaffirmed its commitment to roll out 5G” the ‘European Way’, whatever way that is.

Huawei’s Abraham Liu, who sports the title of “Chief Representative to the European Institutions”, declared that “Huawei has been respecting all applicable laws and regulations. Now Huawei is becoming the victim of the bullying by the US administration. This is not just an attack against Huawei. It is an attack on the liberal, rules-based order.” When a tool of a regime that bans freedom of expression and holds minorities in internment camps utters the word “liberal” and the phrase “rules-based order” you know it’s time to reach for a non-Huawei phone.

Huawei


Will Huawei get its masters to ban the iPhone?

Tuesday, 21 May, 2019

US companies are now banned from supplying Huawei with components, which covers both software and the chips to go into its network equipment and phones. This is serious because Huawei is on track to become the largest supplier of smartphones in the world by volume. And we’re not talking low-end here anymore. Thirty percent of smartphones sold in Europe in Q1 this year were Huawei. Despite the argy-bargy with Washington, Huawei can still use Android because it’s open source, but it might have to do without Google’s layer of popular applications, depending on the politics of the dispute. For now, Huawei hasn’t revealed its hand, but it must have a Plan B for its own app store, and because it’s a front corporation for the Communist Party, it may get its masters to ban the sale of iPhones in China. We haven’t heard the end of this.

Huawei