North Korea: Uncertainty in Asia

August 17, 2017

Tags: North Korea, Nuclear Tests, China and the U.S.

Senior U. S. Diplomat says that Trump team is inexperienced in dealing with North Korea. That American allies in the region see China as uncertain, and the U. S. unpredictable with the Trump administration.

All in all, the situation is unstable.

The Art of War: A Great Scholar Comments

August 9, 2017

Tags: The Art of War, Sun Tzu, Chinese military strategy

The Art of War - Radio Times

Victor Mair is an eminent scholar of Chinese Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Some years back, he completed a new translation of "The Art of War."

This is a Chinese classic of military strategy. It has been taught in war colleges and elsewhere, as philosophy in business and as a guideline for competition in sports.

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.

Estlund offered surprising statistics on the scope and scale of labor unrest in China. She is speaking of 280,000 mass incidents, a vast amount unimaginable in an American context. China, as usual, shakes the world. Workers are mobilizing and pressurizing the regime, but not on the model of the American labor union.

Estlund is describing what Americans would term "wildcat strikes." Most readers would be unaware that such protests even exist in China. This insightful book is written in a direct and transparent style. It is a meditation on how the Chinese leadership understand the meaning of labor unrest and how they will cope with unrest in the future.

Estlund made thirteen trips to China. Her research involved interview with scholars, labor advocates and some government officials (as well as the work of other scholars and writers on the subject). The book is a triumph of the possible. It is not possible, in China, to go to a factory and get the view from workers on the factory floor.

Estlund's conclusion: labor is an area where reform is taking place, not in a big splashy way, so the Western observer would notice, but at the local level. This is why her report and her analysis is important. Her examples include the Honda strike and the FoxConn strike.

In China, the labor question is a difficult subject because the communist party's identity has been as the voice of the proletariat., the worker. The unwinding of the state-owned enterprises is partly responsible for the labor unrest. The unwinding is not complete. There is more to come in that regard. That means more labor unrest.

This is of interest because local uprisings, peasant rebellions and warlord movements, have been responsible for historical change, including the fall of dynasties, in Chinese history.

The Chinese leadership are avid students of history. When unrest arises, the party pays attention. When the ruling dynasty loses the Mandate of Heaven, chaos results. The goal of the party leadership is social stability. The means of producing the social stability is economic prosperity. The prosperity cannot be seen to be favoring one class over another.

The anti-corruption campaign is meant to address a societal wrong in a system that defines itself as a system of class equality. In the face of the suffering of the worker, the emergence of a Red Aristocracy is a distinct violation of the social contract. If a princeling, the offspring of a party boss or a first generation revolutionary, is wrecking a Lamborghini in a Beijing tunnel, what signal does this send to the worker in a Shenzen factory? One might call this the Lamborghini Problem.

Chinese Military on Display as PLA Celebrates its 90th

July 31, 2017

Tags: PLA, Chinese military, Chinese aircraft, Chinese naval vessels, Chinese weapons

It has been a big year for China's military as the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is about to celebrate its 90th birthday.

For a slide show from official Chinese media, People's Daily, on the latest in troops, naval vessels, missiles and aircraft, follow this link:

China Less Willing to Allow Dissidents to Go Abroad

July 18, 2017

Tags: Liu Xiaobo, Chinese dissidents

Here is a podcast of an NPR radio interview of Beijing correspondent Anthony Kuhn with China specialists about the reasons for the Chinese government not allowing Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Prizewinner and dissident, to travel abroad for treatment for his cancer.

The answer is simple. The Chinese have enough economic clout that they no longer have to make human rights concessions in order to gain economic relations with the West. Also, Liu could have been controlled had he been released in China, but if he went to the West, he could not have been controlled.

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:

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.)

A timeline of APT1 economic espionage conducted since 2006 against 141 victims across multiple industries.

APT1ís modus operandi (tools, tactics, procedures) including a compilation of videos showing actual APT1 activity.

The timeline and details of over 40 APT1 malware families.

The timeline and details of APT1ís extensive attack infrastructure.

Evidence linking APT1 to Chinaís 2nd Bureau of the Peopleís Liberation Army (PLA) General Staff Departmentís (GSD) 3rd Department (Military Cover Designator 61398).

The Obama administration sought and received indictments of five Chinese hackers in Federal court. The accused were Chinese nationals. None of them appeared in an American court., nor did the Attorney General Eric Holder expect them to appear. The indictments were published as a means of calling the Chinese to account. The administration began a round of talks with the Chinese-cyber officials on cybersecurity.

That was the Chinese not playing by the rules. The situation is different for Russia. So far, no media outlet has published a similar list of evidence for the Russian intrusions into the DNC nor the John Podesta account. What has been hinted at so far is that some in the intelligence community have leaked that their agency has evidence of breach. No specifics, but the implication is that the Russias were attempting to meddle with the election.

The Russians attempting a breach is nothing new. The cybersecurity company FireEye has published a report that describes the Russian information operations in general terms.

American Universities in China: Is Free Speech on Campus Too Western?

June 28, 2017

Tags: American Universities in China, Free Speech

This podcast is from the Asia Society Website:

It is a must for China watchers. It highlights a contradiction in contemporary China.

The ruling party cannot run a modern economy without an educated population.

If the population is to be educated, free speech is necessary. This is a problem in an era of civil protest when the government is clamping down on freedom of expression.

More ruminations from a scholar of Chinese history on a snapshot of where China is now from my new book. Interviews with Professor Andrew Nathan, Professor Jerome Cohen, Professor Cynthia Estlund, Professor Robert Thurman as well as Michael PIllsbury, and more. Working on the first draft now.


The Mekong Review: From Vietnam With Talent

June 22, 2017

Tags: Vietnamese literature, translations of Vietnamese literature, literary review

"The Mekong Review" is a brilliant literary project bringing translation of stories and profiles of literary persons from Vietnam and Cambodia (and elsewhere on the Mekong).

The literary magazine's founders are talented, one in the South, one in the North. The video gives the feeling of the subtropical atmosphere of Ho Chi Minh City, former Saigon.

The founders of "The Mekong Review" need $15,000 to publish two groundbreaking works. They are very close to their goal. The world has not yet heard these literary voices. This worthy project needs support. The link will take you to their Kickstarter page. You can read all about the founders and the novels, and you can approve of their budget. This is "The Paris Review" of the East.

The American war in Vietnam was a national disaster that followed on the heels of the French war. I used to speak and write against the American war. Now I support the artists of the post-colonial era. Even a small donation will help. Take a trip down the Mekong.

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.)

A Ride in a Tuk-Tuk: How to Fix Pollution in India

June 3, 2017

Tags: Pollution in India, climate change, hazardous air, innovation, fossil fuels, solar engines

I just returned from a trip to Bodh Gaya, India, where I attended a ceremony performed by the Dalai Lama for 200,000 people. The occasion was a time-honored events in Asia, public teaching. This was a Kalachakra Ceremony. It took two weeks.

The first few days consisted of a group of monks creating a pigment mandala necessary to the teaching. There were a group of experienced chanters and a chant master. The mantras in time to the drum and bell went out over a loudspeaker filling the air with sacred syllables that had been used for this ceremony for centuries. Sounds are considered sacred in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and have the power to cleanse, to focus, to prepare, to assist in the training of the mind, the object of meditation. One has to be ready to be enlightened. The object is to shake off the dust of the world and gain higher consciousness. This is the object of pilgrimage.

Word came that 1oo,000 Tibetans from inside Tibet wishes to come to the teaching. The Chinese government prevented them, saying that if they left, they would lose their passports and they could not return. Some of the Tibetans who had come went to the Dalai Lama crying, saying they had to leave, to protect their families. To attend the teaching was illegal. This brings up the question of freedom of religion. Is it folly for the state to interfere in the practice of religion? This is the subject of future writing.

Bodh Gaya is dusty. It was off season. The monsoon would not come for months.

This particular teaching is an advanced teaching, traditionally esoteric, not for the masses. The Dalai Lama has decided to teach it. This is the meaning of the lineage.

Bodh Gaya is the town where the Buddha attained enlightenment. As such, it is sacred ground.

This mingling of peoples of different cultures and costumes was like something out of Chaucer, the English poet of the Middle Ages, who wrote about English pilgrims visiting Canterbury. It was as though history had come alive.

This event was Woodstock for Buddhists: Commerce, food, religion, shopping, medicine, all combined. As far as the eye could see was a multi-colored dazzling sea of humanity. Bodh Gaya has been the site of pilgrimages for two thousand years. It boggles the mind.