China: Risky Business In The Streets

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July 4, 2009: It's become fairly common in China, for managers or government officials to now be held responsible for incompetence that leads to people getting killed. This leads to prison sentences, and even execution. If you have good connections in the government, you can still get off. But that is harder and harder to do. The growing public anger over poor government performance is making it difficult for the riot police, even with army reinforcements, to deal with multiple cities having large riots and demonstrations. The corruption is so pervasive, that senior officials despair of ever reducing it to tolerable levels.

India is getting nervous about China's growing power (economic and military) in the Indian ocean. China has economic and military connections with Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and many African nations. For example, most of Pakistan's weapons are Chinese, and there are over 10,000 Chinese in Pakistan working on economic projects. There is $4 billion in Chinese investments in Pakistan, and that is expected to more than triple in the next year. China is doing the same thing in Africa, and trying to do it in Myanmar (run by a paranoid dictatorship) and Sri Lanka (which has long had tense relations with India.)

With over six million Chinese graduating from college this year, and the recession decreasing the number of jobs available for them, the military has made a big deal out of offering good jobs in the armed forces. The college grads are joining as enlisted troops, with the opportunity to become officers after a few years. Currently, most officers come from military academies or officer training schools. Over the last decade, the Chinese military has been reducing its strength and increasing its standards. In most parts of China, you need at least a high school diploma to join. And the military is trying to increase the number of officers with a college education.

About 1,300 troops, each, from Russia and China will conduct counter-terror exercises later this month.

June 29, 2009: China backed off on its order for all PCs sold in China, after July 1st, to have  government mandated filtering software (Green Dam) installed. The uproar from 300 million Chinese Internet users, PC manufacturers, and an American software company that parts of Green Dam was stolen from, persuaded officials to announce that the filtering software introduction would be delayed.

June 23, 2009: China and United States have resumed military cooperation talks. These were suspended 18 months ago because of Chinese anger at the sale of U.S. weapons to Taiwan.

June 22, 2009: A Taiwanese defense firm, AIDC, that makes military aircraft for Taiwan, wants to do a joint venture with a Chinese aviation company, to produce civilian aircraft. AIDC is government owned. Military leaders oppose this deal, while business leaders are pushing for it.

June 20, 2009: There were more mass (over 10,000 people) demonstrations in Shishou (population  620,000), Hubei province, over the death of a hotel worker. Actually, there were many grievances, most involving corrupt government officials. This was so bad in Shishou, that many lower ranking government employees joined the mob. Several of these large demonstrations take place each year, and the number of them has been increasing over the last decade. To deal with this, over a 100,000 riot police are on constant stand-by  all over the country, and soldiers train for riot control duties, and are also on call. But this is often inadequate. That's because a new form of mob protest has developed, using the Internet and cell phones (texting) to arouse and organize large numbers of people to go out and do something. The government fears that eventually these Internet inspired mobs will go after corrupt officials and police.

June 17, 2009: China and Russia signed another batch of cooperation agreements. The two countries have settled a lot of old squabbles over borders, and are entering into more and more economic partnerships. China also offered Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan (who are all members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or  SCO) $10 billion in credit, to help them through the current worldwide recession. China and Russia are closer allies today, than they ever were during the Cold War.

June 16, 2009: China agreed to abide by any sanctions on North Korea that the UN might impose (because of North Korean nuclear weapons and ballistic missile activities.) China is losing its patience with North Korea, and does not want another neighbor armed with nuclear weapons.

June 15, 2009:  China and Taiwan are planning to remove many of the beach defenses that have cluttered beaches on the mainland, and Taiwanese controlled islands just off the mainland, for over half a century.

June 11, 2009: The American destroyer USS John McCain, while training off Subic Bay in the Philippines, was actually tracking a Chinese submarine as the sub ran into the destroyer's towed sonar array. The Chinese later admitted the sub was one of theirs, and the boat was apparently following the American ship unaware that a sonar array (which usually operates over a hundred meters beneath the surface, and two kilometers behind the ship towing it) was in the way. The Chinese have not revealed which submarine, or even which class, was involved in the collision. There is probably not much damage to sub, since it fled the scene without surfacing. The array was damaged, but not in a way that indicated serious damage to the sub.

June 5, 2009: Last month, the Chinese government quietly notified all companies selling computers in China that, as of July 1st, they had to install new filtering software (Green Dam Youth Escort). This was mainly an effort to prevent Chinese, especially children, from having access to pornography, although Green Dam could be used to block anything. Green Dam basically controlled Internet access to the PC it was installed on. Green Dam checked with a government database (of banned web sites) before allowing the user to actually visit any site. The government already does this via its Great Firewall of China (officially the "Golden Shield") system, that filters, and eavesdrops on, Internet traffic coming into, and leaving, China. Actually, Golden Shield is more about controlling what is said by Internet users inside China, than in controlling what they have access to outside . Manufacturers protested that this was not sufficient time to install filtering software. There is apparently a lot more misbehavior going on with Chinese efforts to control the Internet, and the Green Dam project seems to be another example of this. That's because within a few weeks of the Green Dam announcement, an American software publisher, Solid Oak Software, accused the Chinese of theft. Turns out Green Dam is based on the Solid Oak product Cybersitter software, and there's plenty of incriminating evidence in the Green Dam code.

 

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