Kevin Kwan and the Real Crazy Rich Asians

August 29, 2018

Tags: Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan



A sneak peek at the lifestyles of the women of imperial splendor. Lifestyles of the rich and Singaporean, with Kevin along for the ride.

An interview with Kevin will appear in my forthcoming work, "The Lamborghini and the Laogai: The Two Faces of China's Rise."

Xi Jinping's Rise to Become the Most Powerful Leader in Decades

August 21, 2018

Tags: Xi Jinping, China's leadership



This video by the Wall Street Journal gives an excellent summary of Xi Jinping's rise to become the most powerful leader of China in decades. A must see.

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."

https://taosecurity.blogspot.com/2017/03/five-reasons-i-want-china-running-its.html

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.
(more…)

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.
(more…)

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.)

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.)

(more…)

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.
(more…)

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."

(more…)