A New Film About the Cultural Revolution

May 27, 2018

Tags: Chinese film, New Director, Cultural Revolution, Jiang Wen

Set in the early 1970s, "In the Heat of the Sun", the directorial debut of Jiang Wen 姜文, is about the unique experiences of a group of privileged youth who grew up in Beijing’s government- and military-related courtyards. Schools at this time were closed and parents had little time for their children, so kids in Beijing would find ways of entertaining themselves. (more…)

A Top Cybersecurity Professional Discusses China Writing Code

January 25, 2018

Tags: china, intelligence, open source, russia, software

Richard Bejtlich is one of the top cybersecurity professionals in the world. He discusses technical issues in a manner that makes sense to a non-techie. That would be me. It is my guess, dear reader, that this would also be you.

I have interviewed Richard Bejtlich at length on two occasions. I am an avid follower of his blog for the thrillers I write.

On his TaoSecurity blog, he writes on topics of interest to "the hunters", those who defend U. S. government and corporations against foreign hackers and internal intruders.

Bejtlich is former Air Force Intelligence and as a civilian, was formerly the top cybersecurity professional at Mandiant, the company called in to fix the biggest and most damaging breaches. He was the head of the team that positively identified a PLA Army site as the source of major intrusions. His report led to the indictment of five named PLA hackers.

(See my previous blog on the Mandiant Report in the archives.)

Here is the quote at the top of his blog post about a recent article about the Chinese writing their own code. Read the full post at the web address below.

"Periodically I read about efforts by China, or Russia, or North Korea, or other countries to replace American software with indigenous or semi-indigenous alternatives. I then reply via Twitter that I love the idea, with a short reason why.

"This post will list the top five reasons why I want China and other likely targets of American foreign intelligence collection to run their own software."


Going to the Horde: The Effect of the Mongol Invasion on Russia

December 29, 2017

Tags: Mongol Invasion, Batu Khan, Kievan Rus, Church of the Virgin, Mongols and Russia, Subudei, Alexander Nevsky

In the thirteenth century, the Mongol Khans invaded Russia and occupied the lower Volga setting up a vast nomad camp. The Golden Horde remained in control of Russia for two hundred and fifty years.

The invasion army was commanded by Batu Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan. The Mongol Army was the greatest fighting force of the medieval world. In my new book, I examine the strategy and tactics that would have come into play if the Mongols had decided to conquer Europe.

The first invasion force was small, only twenty thousand. It was an experiment, an expeditionary force. The great general had spies, Venetian spies, who informed him of conditions in Russia. (They also provided intelligence on conditions in Europe that caused Subudei to plan the invasion of Europe with Batu in command of one wing of the army.)

Europe was divided and the Europeans were in blissful ignorance about the Mongols and their potential danger. Even when warned by King Bela of Hungary about the approaching menace, the Europeans ignored the warnings. The Pope and the Holy Roman Empire were at war. They were preoccupied, too busy killing each other to face an external threat. It is a very good story.

Artist Creates Film From Surveillance Photo

December 6, 2017

Tags: Surveillance

The artist Xu Bing says that the nature of surveillance is changing. It used to be the government. Now it is everyone.

The people have the tools to use surveillance. Xu thinks the whole world has become a gigantic film studio. This is fascinating to contemplate. George Orwell never imagined such technology.

Suppose the people conducted surveillance on the government?
From a Wall Street Journal article.

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.

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.)

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.

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.