China: The Internet Monster Lurches Out of Control

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January6, 2007: China has made a $80 million aid deal (new loans, debt relief and economic cooperation deals) with Chad. This is a now-common pattern with China, which seeks to develop in African countries possessing natural resources. Chad recently began pumping oil. Similar deals were developed Nigeria and Sudan, which also have oil. But China has growing economic connections with most African countries, which are seen as potential markets for inexpensive Chinese goods, as well as a source of raw materials. China also provides equipment and training for security and military personnel. This is popular as well, for China is known to be one of the most successful police states on the planet. 

January 5, 2007: An official announcement was made of the J10 jet fighter entering service. At least a dozen J10s are now serving in the air force. The  J10 is a Chinese design using Israeli and American technology. It is considered a domestic, not foreign, aircraft. The more advanced J11 is a licensed copy of the Russian Su-27/30. In the next few years, China appears headed for a fighter force of 600 late model J-7s, 500 J-8s, a hundred or so J-10s and 300 or more J-11s. 

January 3, 2007: Taiwan got very upset with the recent Chinese defense report, which explicitly discussed the need for greater military power, in case Taiwan had to be invaded (after declaring independence).

January 1, 2007: The Chinese people and the government are on a collision course over energy shortages, and energy production. The largest source of energy in China is coal, with 21,000 mines extracting 2.5 billion tons this year. Burning all that is a major source of pollution, and more and more Chinese are experiencing that first hand. The people are more concerned about this than the government is, and that is causing increasing unrest. The government cannot control the news of coal pollution, and cannot come up with an acceptable policy to deal with it. 

December 29, 2006: China released a report on defense policy, laying out plans for a modernized army, more modern air force and larger navy. 

December 27, 2006: A major (7.1 magnitude) earthquake south of Taiwan, severed fiber optic cables that carried most of the Internet traffic from North America to East Asia. Because the United States is, in effect, the center of the Internet, this meant that East Asia lost most of its access to the Internet outside the region. This provided a live example of what could happen in wartime, when nations are expected to cut each other off from international Internet access. However, the Internet is designed to survive such damage, and the Internet software, and operators, began reconfiguring the connections, to restore access. But the damaged cables carried such a large quantity of data, that satellite links, and other long lines, were only able to replace part of the service, and then it took nearly a week to show some progress. There were fewer problems accessing sites within the region. China now has 132 million Internet users, second only to the 200 million in the United States. Some 39 percent of Chinese users have high speed connections, the rest use dial up, some of it very slow dial up. The damaged fiber optic cables should be repaired by the end of January. 

December 25, 2006: The government continues to fight religion, although the policy has long been to tolerate religion, if government supervision was accepted. But many new religions, like evangelical Christian sects, and Falungong, have taken root, and produced millions of believers that refuse to tolerate government control. At times, the police seem to be more diligent in going after unruly religious activists, than in taking down corrupt officials and businessmen. Chinese notice this, but most don't care. 

December 23, 2006: Despite government efforts to suppress the news, a gypsum mine collapse last year, which killed over fifty people, became a major news event on the Chinese Internet, and in cell phone gossip. The news spread quickly and widely, forcing the government to admit local officials had failed to enforce safety rules, or respond to complaints from workers. As a result, 30 company and government officials are now being prosecuted. The government is allowing media to spread that news around. The government sees uncontrolled aspects of the Internet, like the spread of news, as a serious threat to Communist Party control of China. So far, the "Internet monster" only goes after corruption and disasters caused by dishonest or incompetent officials. But the potential for using the Internet to sustain a new revolution keeps Communist Party officials up at night.

 


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