China Readings for April 5th

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  • Read: State Department’s Secret ’06 Warning Against Torture | Danger Room | Wired.com – Philip Zelikow sounds heroic
  • FT Alphaville » The joys of auditing a China short target
  • Russians Court Luxury Real Estate With Record-Breaking Sales – NYTimes.com – Over the past four years, Russians and other citizens of the former Soviet Union have signed contracts to buy more than $1 billion worth of residential real estate in the United States, according to estimates from lawyers and brokers.

    The spending spree may just be warming up, given that $84 billion left Russia last year, with the Russian government estimating that up to 5 percent of that capital flight was being plowed into American real estate. The number of billionaires in Russia and Ukraine has more than tripled since 2009, to 104, according to Forbes.

  • First U.S. Marines Arrive in Darwin, Australia – NYTimes.com
  • 徽松鶴的微博 新浪微博-随时随地分享身边的新鲜事儿 – this new beijing restaurant getting good reviews. want to try it
  • 中国渔民与帕劳警方激烈冲突 1人被枪杀5人被捕_新闻_腾讯网 – palau police kill 1 chinese fisherman
  • » Hong Huang: “When parents sneeze, it’s the children who catch the cold” Rectified.name 正名 – Last week, I couldn’t help but think about Bo Guagua. Did his father inoculate him? Did he know what was about to happen? Did his American friends try to convince him to stay in the United States? Will he stay?

    At least there won’t be any struggle sessions.  I guess we can call that progress.

  • UBS Declares The ‘End Of An Era’ For The Chinese Yuan – UBS expects another 2-3% increase in the value of the yuan this year, in part due to political reasons associated with the election in the US. But not long after that, it could start trading in either direction.
  • Morozov-Beware the unholy alliance of state and internet – FT.com – If encrypted, stored data would be out of reach for most governments. Imagine what this means in the context of Google’s highly anticipated self-driving cars. Will the route of the car be automatically recorded and stored on Google’s servers? If so, the police and intelligence agencies don’t need to install GPS trackers on suspects’ cars; Google would have us record all of this information voluntarily. The state could just ask for it.
    The idea that we need to make it easier for governments to do this, in the UK and elsewhere, is ludicrous. We need to be doing the exact opposite. It is only by anticipating the consequences of this coming unholy alliance between internet companies and intelligence agencies that our freedoms can be defended.
  • Obama’s NSA: Close to knowing all about us – Members of Congress should be sharply awakened by their constituents and reminded what country they’re in; they should act for privacy if they want to remain in office.

    As for the next president, unless he is Ron Paul (not a chance), he will just continue to wave the flag and sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

    Next week: There’s much more to learn from James Bamford, one investigator and reporter who keeps finding out what’s being planned inside the NSA. I’ve credited him for freshly grim news on what awaits this and future generations as the agency takes control of us – no matter who is giving the State of the Union message.

    If more schools had civics classes, at least some of our kids and grandkids may yet text one another to organize for freedom.

    I don’t remember the Occupy Wall Street marchers and drummers ever mentioning the National Security Agency.

  • U.S. home market pulls in more Chinese buyers-USA Today
  • Flattering News Coverage Has a Price in China – NYTimes.com – SHANGHAI — China is notorious for censoring politically delicate news coverage. But it is more than willing to let flattering news about Western and Asian businesses appear in print and broadcast media — if the price is right.
    Want a profile of your chief executive to appear in the Chinese version of Esquire? That will be about $20,000 a page, according to the advertising department of the magazine, which has a licensing agreement with the Hearst Corporation in the United States.
    Not all business and company profiles in Chinese media are planted and paid for, of course. But even when they are not, Chinese media organizations often have much laxer rules than many mainstream Western journalists for accepting payments from sources for news coverage.

    The highly regarded Chinese newspaper, 21st Century Business Herald, which is better known for its investigative reporting, recently ran an interview with Christophe Navarre, chief executive of the French wine and spirits maker Moët Hennessy.

    The article appeared after the company, with the help of Ruder Finn, an American public relations firm, agreed to pay the airfare, lodging and food costs for nine journalists, including one from the 21st Century paper, to visit Moët Hennessy’s chateau in western China. Of the media organizations that rode along, only the international news agency Reuters paid its own travel and other costs, Ruder Finn said…
    If American multinationals made off-the-books payments directly to Chinese reporters, editors or producers, rather than simply buying space or air time through media agencies, the American companies could be at risk of violating the United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The law prohibits people working for American companies that operate abroad from paying bribes or making corrupt payments to foreign officials to obtain or keep business or obtain other business advantages.

    It is unclear whether any Americans have been prosecuted on suspicion of paying journalists in China or elsewhere.

    “Journalists are considered government officials because generally all the press is government-controlled in China,” said Lesli Ligorner, a Shanghai-based lawyer at Simmons & Simmons, an international law firm. “So making an illicit payment to a journalist would be an F.C.P.A. violation.”

    Such payments also violate Chinese law.

  • Signs of a New Tiananmen in China | The Diplomat – we'll see. skeptical//

    For now, of course, it’s too early to tell whether these intellectual stirrings are going anywhere beyond the elite publications and online forums. However, if I were a sitting member of the Politburo Standing Committee, I’d be very concerned. The voices of China’s liberal intelligentsia are now resonating among a public increasingly disenchanted with the party’s policies. In particular, such voices should appeal to China’s better-educated youths, whose numbers have increased several times since Tiananmen. Two decades of rapid economic growth, consumerism, and state-sponsored nationalism may have lulled them into political apathy. But as they experience the injustice, corruption, and incompetence of the current system in their daily lives, they’ll most likely feel increasingly swayed by voices urging a fundamental change of course.

    Since the Tiananmen tragedy 23 years ago, a question on many people’s minds is whether another Tiananmen will happen. The Chinese government has done everything imaginable to ensure that it won’t. As China enters a more uncertain decade, what’s becoming increasingly apparent is that many of the social and political conditions for producing a Tiananmen-style crisis have re-emerged.  An intellectual renaissance is certainly one of them.

  • From tracking al-Qaeda to tracking the wayward spouse – The Washington Post – That, in one convenient package, is what has become of the homeland security effort. What began as a well-intentioned campaign to harden targets and protect the nation from terrorists has metastasized into a sprawling and diffuse enterprise that has little to do with terrorists and a lot to do with government and employers spying on the citizenry — and citizens spying on each other.

    The GovSec expo this week at Washington’s convention center reflects the shift. Billed as “the premier government security event,” it began after the 9/11 attacks, its organizers told me, with vendors hawking security barriers, razor wire and the like. Now the 2,500 conventioneers can visit the booth of a vendor called ECM Universe, which specializes in monitoring Twitter.

  • 各地民众清明节自发前往江西凭吊胡耀邦(图) _新闻_腾讯网 – 今年4月15日是胡耀邦逝世23周年。据悉,胡耀邦陵园先后接待过80多位党和国家领导人、200多位省部级官员前来祭奠。记者下山时一位带着孩子前来祭奠的年轻妈妈正用湖南口音教训在路边贪玩的孩子,“快走哦,胡爷爷看着呢!”
  • Indonesia expresses concern over US spy base proposal – Indonesia's Foreign Minister has sought an explanation from his Australian counterpart over a proposal that US spy planes be based in future on the Cocos Islands.

    Marty Natalegawa phoned Bob Carr yesterday morning over his concerns that the proposal would “disturb the region”.

  • Bo-linked Tycoon Spirals From Grace | SCMP.com – maybe he can cut a deal. he must know about the Bo family, perhaps the investigation team just wants to build a bo-gu case and will release him after he talks//

    One of the mainland's youngest billionaires seems to have plunged from favour, after party authorities reportedly started investigating him in mid-March.
    Rumours are rife about 41-year-old Dalian Shide chairman Xu Ming, an associate of former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai, who is believed to have helped Xu amass his fortune.

    Internet users and analysts began speculating after Xu failed to appear as scheduled in Hainan this week at the Boao Forum for Asia – an annual meeting of leaders from business, government and academia.

    In 2008, Xu was named the mainland's 61st wealthiest person, with personal assets totalling around 8 billion yuan (HK$9.8 billion).

    Shide is a conglomerate with interests ranging from home appliances and finance to building materials and chemicals.

    Xu was considered one of Bo's closest associates, becoming wealthy while Bo held senior posts in Dalian and then Liaoning from the late 1980s to 2004.

  • April 2012-How China Is Blocking Tor-PDF
  • Tor traffic disguised as Skype video calls to fool repressive governments – Computer scientists have released a tool that disguises communications sent through the Tor anonymity service as Skype video calls, a cloak that's intended to prevent repressive governments from blocking the anonymous traffic.

    SkypeMorph, as the application is called, is designed to remedy a fundamental limitation of Tor: While the communications are cryptographically secured, unique characteristics of their individual data packets make them easy to identify as they travel over the networks. In the past, for example, the cryptographic key exchange was different in Tor transactions and the certificates used were typically valid for only a matter of hours, compared with as long as a year or two for certificates used by most Web servers. These fingerprints made it possible for government censors in Iran, China, and elsewhere to block data traveling over Tor while leaving the rest of the country's communications intact…

    Richard Clarke's editorial in today's New York Times underscores what I've written before about Mr. Clarke. He's not well-informed about the scale and scope of cyber espionage or any other cyber-related threat. And when you combine that lack of depth with his "name" power, then you have the dangerous combination of ignorance informing policy. Here's a quick survey of what's wrong with Clarke's editorial.

    While China does engage in cyber espionage against U.S. companies, so do many other nation states. In my ebook, A Traveler's Guide to Cyber Security, I created an Appendix which lists multiple examples of cyber espionage by Brazil, China, France, Germany, Greece, Iran, Israel, Nigeria, Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela. The reality is that acts of espionage – cyber or other-wise – is very wide spread. You would never know that fact by reading Clarke's sinophobic writings.

    Further, Richard Clarke attempts to provide a solution to this problem that is (a) impossible to implement and (b) reveals his lack of understanding of how data flows between networks. When sensitive data is located within a network, an attacker will encrypt those files and extract them in a way that doesn't draw attention. There's no way for any agency to see into those files and say "Hey – that's our secret sauce!".
    Clearly Mr. Clarke is in the business of selling his time to clients who are worried about cyber attacks, and his background as a government bureaucrat is helping him do that – at least in the United Arab Emirates. However, if he's truly interested in contributing solutions to this very serious problem he needs to start by learning enough information about what's actually happening at a substantive level and then formulate an appropriate solution.

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