Labor in China: What Do the Protests Mean?

August 4, 2017

Tags: Labor in China, Labor Protests in China, state-owned enterprise



In December of 2016, I was invited to a Round Table discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. The NYU labor scholar Cynthia Estlund was presenting recently completed research from her new book on labor unrest in China, "A New Deal For China's Workers?"

Estlund's book, an analysis of labor in China, opens with the observation that if anything unites workers the world over, it is the realization that their lives and futures are being shaped by China. America is no exception. For the past three decades, American blue collar jobs have been shipped to China for one reason and one reason only: cheap labor costs.
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Exposing China's and Russia's Cyber Espionage Units

July 6, 2017

Tags: Chinese hackers, Russian hacking, Cyber Espionage, Russian intrusion, Russian interference

The world of cybersecurity is not nice. It is like the Wild West. Hackers attack for many reasons, personal glory, profit, sabotage, war. But hackers leave tracks and the tracks can be analyzed by professionals. Here is a case in point.

In March of 2017, the Justice Department of the United States returned indictments in United States Federal Court against the Russian FSB officers and their hackers who breached Yahoo and stole the email addresses of millions of accounts. (The FSB is the successor to the KGB).

The indictment stated that FSB Officers "protected, directed, facilitated and paid criminal hackers." The information regarding the charges can be found here:

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/us-charges-russian-fsb-officers-and-their-criminal-conspirators-hacking-yahoo-and-millions

The Trump administration has not been soft on Russian hackers. Neither was the Obama administration.

I have been following the story of the Chinese hackers for years. I have summed up a list of the forensic evidence produced in the legal proceedings against China's industrial espionage. The evidence was used to secure indictments against the hackers. (Note: APT is techno-speak for Advanced Persistent Threat.)
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The Inside Scoop on Hacking: Russia and China in Cyberspace

June 11, 2017

Tags: Hacking, Chinese hackers, Russian hackers, Hacking Targets, Cyber Security



With everyone on Capitol Hill discussing the hacking or non-hacking of the DNC by Russia, this is a must-see video.

In this interview with Defense News TV, Richard Bejtlich explains the anatomy of a hack. An intrusion is much longer than a split-second invasion in real time. Often the invader is inside the system for years before the target is aware.

Yes. You read that right. The intruder is inside the system for years. A little computer science helps to clarify the current discussion on Capitol Hill.

Richard is one of the top cybersecurity experts in the United States. I have interviewed him a number of times, most recently in Washington, D. C.

The interviews explain the motivations and practice of cyber espionage by China for my new book, "The Lamborghini and the LaoGai: The Two Faces of China's Rise."His list of top offenders are China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. With the Iranians working with the North Koreans.

This analysis is enough to make anyone nervous, but if you go to the FireEye website, you will find a map of worldwide threats in cyberspace. Go if you want to loose sleep at night.

(See my blog archive for my interview with Beijtlich on the Mandiant report on APT 1, the People's Liberation Army building in Shanghai, the location of the IP address of the five Chinese who were indicted in an American court as the Chinese hacking team.)

Why Is China Robotizing Its Factories?

March 2, 2017

Tags: China Labor Unrest, China and Robots, American Manufacturing

For my new book "The Lamborghini and the LaoGai: The Two Faces of China's Rise", I am researching the present state of Chinese labor. I discovered an amazing fact: China is robotizing its factories.

Last December, I was invited by Professor Jerome Cohen, of the U. S. Asia Law Institute at NYU, to attend a Round Table at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Two top-notch academic experts delivered classic labor market analysis with solid but hard-to-get statistics from the field. The Chinese are not big on outsiders polling their labor force. This was heroic scholarship.

Their conclusion: The Chinese labor force is restless for two reasons: one is the end of the “iron rice bowl”, the cradle-to-grave security that the old communist system once provided.

A second factor affecting the restlessness of the Chinese labor force is the privatization of state-owned enterprises, meaning the end of jobs that were left in place for social rather than economic reasons. A padded work force creates an inefficient enterprise. The Chinese economy can no longer support the dinosaurs of the old system.

One of the massive tasks facing Chinese President Xi Jinping is the unwinding of the outdated under-performing state-owned enterprises.

For the new enterprises to be profitable, the labor force has to be cut. President Xi knows this change will produce more protest and more unrest. If the system does not guarantee a good life for the Chinese, the system is in jeopardy. This is one reason why Xi has consolidated his hold on power.

A third factor is the move of Chinese rural population, peasants or residents of small cities, to the major cities on the coast where the opportunity for employment is greater than in the interior.

These three factors have led to a wave of labor protests across the country, including in Shenzhen, the special economic zone, the showcase of the new Chinese economics, the birthplace of market Stalinism.

Neither of the academics who delivered the snapshot of where Chinese labor is now took into account the fact that China is robotizing its factories. The technological revolution in the work force has arrived. For that point of view, I interviewed an electrical engineer who is an expert on robotics and who designs robotic factories for major American corporations. The view from the factory floor in China is mind-blowing.
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My Conversation With a Beijing Judge

December 30, 2016

Tags: Rule of Law, Legal Reform

The dean of China lawyers, Jerome Cohen, invited me to attend a roundtable discussion at the U. S.-Asia Law Institute at NYU two weeks ago, on the 14thof December, 2016.

My attendance brought me to the lecture of a woman who is a Beijing judge in criminal and commercial law, an unusual position in a male-dominated field.

From the judge, I learned about legal reforms in China, improvements to the role of the police, the abolition of torture and coerced confessions. This is for the codes named above.
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Everything Old Is New Again: China's Revives the Silk Route

December 9, 2016

Tags: The New Silk Road, the Maritime Silk Road, South China Sea, Khubilai Khan, Fall of Tang Dynasty

The Asia Society Museum has just announced a new show called "Secrets of the Sea: A Tang Shipwreck and Early Trade in Asia "

The show will open in March of 2017 at the Park Avenue address.

The Asia Society describes the show as a celebration of the flourishing exchange of goods, ideas and culture among Medieval China, Southeast Asia and the Islamic Middle East.

The show is important because it shows the foreign trade of the Tang Dynasty, the most cosmopolitan dynasty in Chinese history, one that was international in character, and the Golden Age of China in the arts and literature.

This is of particular interest because Chinese president Xi Jinping has announced the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, a revival and expansion of the old trade routes.

(The map to the left illustrates the historical trade routes. The map beneath it shows the planned "Belt and Road" expansion upon the historical routes.)

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The TPP as seen by Asian Countries

November 24, 2016

Tags: TPP, Asian security, Asian views on TPP

Experts from Asian countries have weighed in on the U. S. pulling out of the TPP.

They want the U. S. to stay. "If the United States, rich with experience in global
leadership, retreats in this situation, there will certainly be a leadership vacuum."

This is the view expressed in a publication of the Asia Foundation subtitled, "Strategic Recommendations for the Incoming President of the U. S. on Foreign Policy Towards Asia." For a download, go to:

http://asiafoundation.org/publication/asian-views-americas-role-asia-future-rebalance

China Policy Under Trump

November 24, 2016

Tags: China policy, TPP, China trade


There is no doubt that the most important bilateral relationship in American foreign policy is the relationship with China. This is why I welcomed the recent NPR interview with Michael Pillsbury, a China hand and present member of the Trump transition team.

My father was a brilliant trial lawyer who could change tactics in the middle of a trial, depending on the testimony of the witness. A favorite quote of his was, "You have to speak to people in a language that they understand."

This sounds obvious, but actually it is a study in communications strategy. The United States has been very poor in its communications strategy with China for the past eight years and I include the foreign policy team of the present administration and the past two secretaries of state. All of them have a tin ear when it comes to understanding nuance. They fall into the Chinese category of Western barbarians.

I shall not mention all of the specific issues that called for America to weigh in, but the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong comes to mind. The young were in the streets asking for the democracy promised at the handover of Hong Kong from Britain.

Mr. Pillsbury is the author of the perceptive book "The Hundred Year Marathon." He is also a speaker of Chinese and a scholar of Chinese history. His approach is that of a military man. He served in the Reagan and Bush administrations. By this I mean that like military men the world over, Mr. Pillsbury is a strategic thinker. This is exactly what is needed in dealing with China, for the Chinese have been brilliant strategic thinkers for the past two thousand years.

A word about Chinese history. They were the pre-eminent civilization in the world for centuries until the rise of the West. They failed to come to terms with Western science and technology. They screwed up modernization royally, because of their belief in their own culture. They turned inward at a time when the West came to dominate the international order.

The Chinese have made up for lost time in the past three decades. They are moving onto the global scene. As Mr. Pillsbury says, China is sometimes a friend and sometimes a rival.
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The Themes that Haunt Us All: The After-effects of War

November 21, 2016

Tags: Mahabharata, Peter Brook, Kurosawa, universal themes in art



Thirty years ago, the British director Peter Brook staged the great Indian epic poem, "The Mahabharata" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The cast was multi-ethnic. The point was, that art is universal. That the themes speak to humanity.

The philosophy of the Mahabharata is grounded in the great Hindu themes, but the script was written by a Frenchman and parts were played by actors of many different races and nationalities.

The great Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa did film versions of the Shakespeare plays, "MacBeth" called "Throne of Blood" and "King Lear" called "Ran" or "Chaos."

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The TPP: Right Or Wrong?

November 20, 2016

Tags: TPP, RCEP, Pacific Trade Agreement



Does your brain trying to figure out the plus and minuses of the TPP? I mean the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal that the Obama administration supports and Trump rejects. You're not alone.

Here is a breakdown. The TPP is a trade agreement among eleven countries of the Pacific. Pacific trade is the most vital in the world.

In the words of the China specialist, Gordon Chang, the issue is not the lopsided benefits of tariffs, dumping and currency manipulation. These can be negotiated.

The question is: Whose vision of Pacific trade will prevail, Washington's or Beijing's.
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