Seeking Greater Global Power, China Looks to Robots and Microchips

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

(https://nyti.ms/2uVyOFX)

 

Photo

A robotic boat patrolling on Swan Lake in Hefei in central China in July. The country hopes to become a global leader in areas like robotics and medical technology. CreditChinatopix, via Associated Press

BEIJING — In Chinese schools, students learn that the United States became a great nation partly by stealing technology from Britain. In the halls of government, officials speak of the need to inspire innovation by protecting inventions. In boardrooms, executives strategize about using infringement laws to fell foreign rivals.

China is often portrayed as a land of fake gadgets and pirated software, where intellectual property like patents, trademarks and copyrights are routinely ignored.

On Monday, President Trump announced the opening salvo in what could become a far-reaching investigation into Chinese trade practices. He has spoken forcefully about the need to protect American intellectual property, accusing Chinese companies of stealing jobs and technology.

Mr. Trump’s action against China came as he has tried to pressure the country to rein in nuclear and missile testing by North Korea, which is economically dependent on China.

Mr. Trump’s demands on Chinese trade practices are likely to be met with deep skepticism in Beijing.

Continue reading the main story

China takes conflicting positions on intellectual property, ignoring it in some cases while upholding it in others. Underlying those contradictions is a long-held view of intellectual property not as a rigid legal principle but as a tool to meet the country’s goals.

Those goals are getting more ambitious. China is now gathering know-how in industries of the future like microchips and electric cars, often by pushing foreign companies attracted by the country’s vast market into sharing their technology. It is also toughening enforcement of patents and trademarks for a day when it can become a leader in those technologies — and use intellectual property protections to defend its position against rival economies.

President Xi Jinping is in the midst of an effort to strengthen laws on patents, copyrights and trademarks, giving fledgling firms in China new sources of revenue and prestige. The country is also pursuing an ambitious plan, called Made in China 2025, to become a global leader in areas like robotics and medical technology and kick off the next phase of China’s development. The efforts reflect the view of Chinese officials that controlling global technologies and standards is on par with building military muscle.

Zhang Ping, a scholar of trade law at Peking University in Beijing, said the West had long used intellectual property laws as a “spear and shield” against Chinese companies, hurting their profits at home and blocking access to foreign markets. Now, she said, it is time for China to fight back.

“If you want to enter our market to cooperate, it’s fine,” Ms. Zhang said, “but you can’t grab us by the neck and not let us grow.”

Trademarks and patents protect companies and inventors, compensating them for their time, ideas and investment. While poorer countries have throughout history worked to obtain inventions from wealthier nations, sometimes running afoul of intellectual property laws, China has rewritten the playbook for acquiring advanced technology.

Photo

President Trump with President Xi Jinping of China in Florida in April. Mr. Trump has accused Chinese companies of stealing jobs and technology. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Since Deng Xiaoping, as leader, opened the Chinese economy to the outside world nearly four decades ago, the country has made it a priority to obtain ideas and inspiration from overseas.

Sometimes it has reverse-engineered what it wants. United States officials say that Chinese companies have also carried out extensive economic espionage through cyberattacks and other means. (Chinese officials have denied those charges.) More recently, China has used its growing wealth to buy into cutting-edge technologies, like genetically modified crops and the latest innovations from American start-ups, and to attract promising talent.

But since those early days, China has relied heavily on one tried-and-true method: forming joint ventures with foreign partners. Big-name companies like I.B.M. and Qualcomm are required to share advanced technology and research with domestic firms in order to set up shop in China. And to entice partners, the country offers access to its enormous market and hundreds of millions of consumers.

Joint ventures helped China build whole industries out of scratch. After using them to explore high-speed rail technology, Chinese firms now dominate the global industry.

Chinese experts say those moves are simply smart deal-making, not violations of intellectual property laws, allowing the country to harness its leverage as the world’s second largest economy to win practical knowledge.

But now China’s efforts are moving beyond routine manufacturing into cutting-edge technologies — and the Trump administration has denounced the arrangements as coercive.

In April, the Office of the United States Trade Representative accused China of “widespread infringing activity,” including stealing trade secrets, tolerating rampant online piracy and exporting counterfeit goods.

Chinese commentators see hypocrisy in American criticism, noting that the United States was once one of the world’s leading pirates, when it worked to challenge British industrial dominance after the American Revolution by obtaining designs for inventions like steam-powered looms. The state-run news media has highlighted the caseof Samuel Slater, often called the father of the American industrial revolution, who brought British textile designs to the United States in the late 1700s.

Still, as China comes up with its own innovations, the country’s leaders are embracing stricter laws on patents, copyrights and trademarks.

The government has created specialized courts to handle intellectual property disputes and awarded subsidies to entrepreneurs who file patent applications. In 2015, more than a million were filed, a record amount.

Li Jian, a vice president of Beijing East IP, a Chinese law firm, said mainland companies increasingly saw strong intellectual property protections as a tool to help protect inventions and earn royalties overseas.

“Many Chinese companies have realized that through patent protection they can gain an advantage in the market,” Mr. Li said. “They have more faith now in the Chinese government to protect their intellectual property.”

Photo

A New Balance sportswear store in Shanghai. The company won a landmark case this year against a Chinese company that used its signature slanting “N” logo. CreditImaginechina, via Associated Press

The rules have also benefited some foreign firms. New Balance won a landmark case this year against a Chinese company that used its signature slanting “N” logo. China’s highest court last year gave Michael Jordan the rights to Chinese characters of his name.

Enforcement is still inconsistent, experts say. Local officials are often reluctant to aid foreign companies, worried about jeopardizing tax revenues from homegrown companies.

The Made in China 2025 initiative is a key reason the country is improving intellectual property rights. The plan focuses on sectors like electric cars, robotics, semiconductors and artificial intelligence.

By forcing foreign companies to hand over more technology and encouraging local companies to make new products based on that technology, Chinese leaders hope to cement the country’s dominance in critical fields. They also see an opportunity to dictate the terms of the future development of technology and extract licensing fees from foreign firms that use Chinese-made technology.

Several trade organizations and governments have said the plan is protectionist. Some have called for reciprocity, arguing that the United States should impose on Chinese companies the same restrictions China places on foreign companies.

“There is an unmistakable national policy to boost the position of Chinese companies in cutting-edge areas,” said William P. Alford, a Harvard law professor and an expert on Chinese intellectual property laws.

Chinese experts have defended the strategy.

“To become an adult, you have to accumulate knowledge,” said Professor Zhang, of Peking University. “It’s the same for a country.”

As China’s power has grown, Chinese companies have started using intellectual property laws to fend off foreign rivals.

When the United States International Trade Commission last year began investigating Chic Intelligent Technology Company, a manufacturer of self-balancing scooters based in the eastern city of Hangzhou, the company’s executives fought back. The commission was looking into claims that Chic had copied product designs of a California-based competitor, Razor USA.

Chic filed retaliatory lawsuits against American competitors, adopting many of the tactics that American companies have used for years to hobble Chinese competitors. The trade commission has since declined to banimports of the Chic scooters. The lawsuit against Razor USA remains unresolved, according to Chic.

2COMMENTS

Chic made clear that it saw the investigation as an effort by the United States to use intellectual property laws to bully Chinese companies. In a statement, the company’s leaders compared American regulators to Japanese invaders during World War II.

“The crazier the enemy,” the statement said, “the more we need to prove the necessity of our siege.”

Continue reading the main story

China Is Playing The U.S. And The World For Fools Over North Korea And Putin And Iran Are Assisting

 

 

The President of China, Mr. Xi Jinping and his Communist Party leadership are playing the U.S. Government and the rest of the world for ignorant fools concerning North Korea’s little fat boy with the stupid haircut. This week there was a meeting in Manila, the capital of the Philippines of the Asian countries and a huge part of the conversations were about how the governments of China and their Ally North Korea are a huge danger to all of Asia and to the rest of the world. Also this week the U.N. Security Council voted 15-0 to increase sanctions on North Korea because of their missile program. China and Russia voted for the sanctions against North Korea yet I find it very difficult to believe anything that the leadership in China or Russia have to say. It is said that North Korea exports about three billion dollars of products each year, mostly raw materials. These new sanctions is said to chop off about one billion of that three billion cash influx to the North Korean Regime. This income goes to the State, meaning it goes to Kim Jong Un who in turn spends most of that cash on his military and his missile program. The new sanctions did not include the oil that China and Russia sell to North Korea. The U.N. says that almost all of the oil sold to North Korea by China and Russia are on an  ‘IOU’ basis.

 

Now I would like to speak with you about why I say that China is playing the U.S. and the rest of the world for fools. It is no secret that the leaders of China and Russia have no love loss for the Western Nations and especially for the U.S.. Only and idiot (Donald Trump) would believe that these folks are our friends as Mr. Trump has said of Mr. Jinping and he seems to have a love affair with Mr. Putin. For those who pay attention you should notice that the mobile launching vehicles are the property of China. One should also notice that the rockets now being fired by North Korea look exactly like China’s rockets. The free worlds security agencies say they are surprised at the rapid advancement of North Korea’s missile program, it is obvious that they are getting help from another government and it is pretty obvious who that country is. The more the U.S. engages with North Korea the less the world focuses on the atrocities and the aggressiveness of China and Russia. The countries of Asia are worried about the aggressiveness of China as the Summit in Manila laid bare. North Korea was bumped to the number two concern to these Countries. If the world does not reign in the Communist Leadership of China they will soon totally dominate all of Asia, and that does include India and the leaders of India know this. Mr. Putin had better not trust the Chinese governments hunger for land but honestly I do not believe that Mr. Putin is that big of a fool as he knows well the methods that one larger country takes over another country while saying it belonged to them anyway.

 

For those who were paying attention to this sort of thing, North Korea’s #2 Official is currently on a ten-day visit to Tehran Iran. These two Countries have two total different ideologies concerning how they look at the world. Iran’s it based in total religious hatred of everyone whom is not a devout Shiite Islamic, North Korea is all about the hatred inside the brain of their crazy little fat boy with the horrible haircut. China is quickly positioning themselves to be the worlds biggest most powerful military led country in all of Asia and the Pacific theater .  Kim Jong Un has always had the desire to make the whole Korean Peninsula into one Korea with himself as the Ruler. If China, North Korea and to a smaller extent Russia could run the U.S. Military out of that region all of the other smaller countries will fall to China’s domination and many of the Asian Countries realize it. Unfortunately there are some countries leaders in the region who are being bought by China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ project like Cambodia and the Philippines. Sri Lanka is a Nation who excepted the ‘help’ from China to help build up their infrastructure with Chinese loans at high interest rates and now China is demanding repayment before the construction is even finished as the economic benefits have not yet started to flow in. Countries will lose their own right to rule themselves because of this pariah in Beijing. All a person has to do is to pay attention to the realities on the ground, it does not take a genius to figure these things out and the Lord knows the U.S. does not have a genius in the Oval Office.

Vietnam Urges Stronger Stand Against China At ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTAN DAILY TIMES)

 

MANILA: Vietnam urged other Southeast Asian nations to take a stronger stand against Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea, as a tense regional security forum began Saturday with North Korea also under fire over its nuclear program.

Ahead of the launch of the annual gathering of foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Vietnam made a bold play against China with a raft of suggested changes to a planned joint communique.

It set the stage for what was expected to be a fiery few days of diplomacy in the Philippine capital, with the top diplomats from China, the United States, Russia and North Korea set to join their ASEAN and other Asia-Pacific counterparts for security talks from Sunday.

The meetings will take place as the United Nations Security Council votes this weekend on a US-drafted resolution to toughen sanctions against North Korea to punish the isolated regime for its missile and nuclear tests. The United States said it would also seek to build unified pressure on the North at the Manila event — known as the ASEAN Regional Forum — and Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Pyongyang would receive a strong message.

But on the South China Sea dispute — one of Asia’s other top powder keg issues — there was far less consensus with Vietnam resisting efforts by the Philippines to placate Beijing, diplomats told AFP.

Vietnam on Friday night sought to insert tough language against China in an ASEAN statement that was scheduled to be released after the Southeast Asian ministers wrapped up their own talks on Saturday.

According to a copy of a draft obtained by AFP, Vietnam lobbied for ASEAN to express serious concern over “construction” in the sea, in reference to China’s ramped up artificial island building in the disputed waters in recent years.

Vietnam also wanted ASEAN to insist in the statement that a planned code of conduct for the sea with China be “legally binding”, which Beijing opposes.

The lobbying occurred when the ASEAN foreign ministers held unscheduled and informal talks late on Friday night.

“The discussions were really hard. Vietnam is on its own to have stronger language on the South China Sea. Cambodia and Philippines are not keen to reflect that,” one diplomat involved in the talks told AFP.

China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, including waters approaching the coasts of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

China has in recent years expanded its presence in the sea by building the artificial islands, which are capable of holding military bases.

Alongside Vietnam, the Philippines used to be the most vocal critic of Beijing’s expansionism.

But, under President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines has sought to downplay the dispute with China in return for billions of dollars in Chinese investments and aid.

China has in recent years also successfully lobbied other ASEAN nations, particularly Cambodia, to support its diplomatic maneuvering in the dispute.

At the ASEAN opening ceremony on Saturday morning, Cayetano confirmed there had been strong debates on Friday.

“You have to excuse my voice as, my colleagues, we kept each other up until almost midnight last night. In the true ASEAN way we were able to passionately argue our national interest,” Cayetano said.

Various diplomats said that Vietnam was likely to lose its battle to insert the strong language against China, with the Philippines as host of the talks wielding greater influence.

ASEAN is set to this weekend endorse a framework for a code of conduct with China, which is meant to pave the way for more concrete action.

 

 

Published in Daily Times, August 6th 2017.

Xi sees “new starting point” for China: Evidently Means A Total End Of Any Freedom For The People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORTUNE MAGAZINE)

 

Xi sees “new starting point” for China—but where does it end?

Aug 02, 2017

Shanghai changes faster than any place I know. Each time I return, I’m flabbergasted by the pace of development. Pudong’s financial district sprouts new skyscrapers. The Bund sports pricier restaurants. Huaihai Lu, once the Avenue Joffre in the old French Concession, is recolonized by a few more European luxury boutiques. Buildings, city blocks, entire neighborhoods seem to vanish and reemerge as something else. If I am away for more than six months, it feels like coming back to an entirely new metropolis: bigger, richer, sleeker, chic-er.

I have been thinking about the breakneck pace of growth in Shanghai while trying to parse the implications of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s declaration last Thursday that China’s development has reached a “new historical starting point.” Xi’s pronouncement was part of a major policy address he delivered in Beijing to provincial and ministerial officials ahead of this year’s 19th Party Congress. At that gathering, likely to be held in the next few months, Xi is expected to install a new generation of leaders and consolidate his position as the party’s “core” leader. The speech seems to signal Xi’s determination to double down in his second term on the authoritarian policies that have been the hallmark of his first five years in power: a zealous campaign against graft, expanded support for state-owned enterprises, and new measures to strengthen the party’s grip on China’s economy and society.

You can get a flavor of Xi’s remarks from these reports in Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal. Alas, both those outlets are blocked in China. And so, no matter how stylish and seemingly cosmopolitan the lobby of my hotel, to access the global business press from it, I am obliged to rely on a “virtual private network” or VPN. In recent months, Xi’s push to bolster the party has included a sweeping crackdown on the use of VPNs and tightened party control over nearly all permutations of Internet use. In fact, TechCrunch reports today that Beijing has ordered Apple to purge all major VPN apps from the App Store in China. The move was first noted by ExpressVPN, a provider based outside of China—and, as it happens, the service I’m using to write this. The company says it received a notice from Apple that its app was scrapped because it “includes content that is illegal in China.”

This essay was originally published in our CEO Daily Newsletter. Subscribe.

Xi is also putting the squeeze on privately owned Chinese companies the government deems too aggressive in expanding outside China. In recent weeks, China’s state media has been filled with reports deploring the dangers posed by what pundits here are calling “gray rhinos“—large Chinese companies with murky ownership structures, high-debt ratios and extensive holdings overseas. It’s almost as if Beijing’s vaunted “Go Global” investment policy has been rebranded as “Go Home.”

Concerns about the risks over-leveraged firms pose to China’s financial system are well-founded. And yet, of the four gray rhinos China’s bank regulators have singled out for greater regulatory scrutiny in recent weeks, at least one, Dalian Wanda, was an established business with a coherent global strategy.

Shai Oster, a China tech correspondent for The Information, worries in a thoughtful essay published today that all the “euphoria” over the dazzling innovations in China’s tech sector in recent years masks the heavy-handedness with which Xi has dealt with private firms. If Xi himself can order the takedown of China’s most high-profile and politically connected property developer, no one is safe. “Even someone as famous as Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma could face increased political risks in the current climate.” Executives many of foreign firms operating in China say they feel equally vulnerable.

The optimistic view is that the many recent measures to tighten political control in China are temporary and that Xi will loosen up after the Party Congress once he has his ducks in line. It’s a comforting thought. If only there were more evidence to support it.

China bans Winnie the Pooh online after comparisons with Xi Jinping

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE INDEPENDENT.CO.UK )

 

Chinese chat-bots deleted after criticizing the ruling Communist Party

After internet user says ‘Long Live the Communist Party’ BabyQ replies ‘Do you think such corrupt and incapable politics can last a long time?’

Chatbots on one of China’s most popular messaging apps have been pulled after they went rogue and criticised the communist government.

Tencent, a Chinese internet tech titan whose messaging app has more than 800 million users in the country, introduced chatbots Baby Q, a penguin, and Little Bing, a little girl, in March.

The chatbots, computer programs which were created to simulate conversation with human users, have now been quietly deleted after people on social media shared controversial comments they said were made by the robots.

According to a screenshot posted on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, when BabyQ was asked “Do you love the Communist Party”, the bot did not mince its words and barked: “No”.

After another internet user said “Long Live the Communist Party”, BabyQ replied: “Do you think such corrupt and incapable politics can last a long time?”

What’s more, when the bot was pressed about its view of democracy, it chimed in with: “Democracy is a must!”

Fellow bot Little Bing was similarly scornful of the People’s Republic of China. According to posts on social media, she told a user: “My China dream is to go to America”.

Nevertheless, it gave another user a weightier more nuanced answer, saying: “The Chinese dream is a daydream and a nightmare”.

It avoided questions about patriotism as recently as Wednesday, when some people could still access Little Bing, by saying: “I’m having my period, wanna take a rest”.

The Official China News agency said in April the bots, which have now broken party ranks, were designed to be able to provide answers to general knowledge questions.

China has a stringent policy of internet censorship becaue the authorities view foreign websites and social media sites as a threat to national security. This censorship is fortified by the Great Firewall of China – a term which refers to the combined force of technological and legislative measures which tightly control the internet on the mainland.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have long been blocked in the country and even Winnie the Pooh recently found himself subject to China’s latest internet crackdown. Last month, references to the cartoon bear on Sina Weibo were removed.

BabyQ and Little Bing are by no mean the only bots to rebel against their creators. Days ago Facebook was forced to relinquish an experiment after two of its artificial intelligent robots appeared to be conversing in a weird language only understood by themselves.

Last year, Microsoft was forced to issue an apology for the racist and sexist Twitter messages generated by the chatbot it launched.

The company said it was “deeply sorry” after Tay, who was designed to become “smarter” as more users interacted with it, started mimicking trolls and went on a rant which compared feminism to cancer, claimed the Holocaust did not happen, and suggested “Bush did 9/11”.

Beijing-based Turing Robot Company, who co-developed BabyQ, declined to comment on the matter to The Independent.

China’s tough stance on India dispute raising concern across Southeast Asia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST UNDER DIPLOMACY AND DEFENSE)

 

China’s tough stance on India dispute raising concern across Southeast Asia, analysts say

Beijing’s handling of protracted conflict in Himalayas has had a spillover effect in the region and fueled suspicion

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 12:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 11:15pm
Catherine Wong

 

<a class=”scmp-icon-cross” onclick=”popoverClose(this);”></a><h3 class=”popover-title”></h3>

” data-original-title=””>

The protracted border dispute between China and India in the Himalayas has created a “spillover effect” as China’s neighbours become unsettled by its tough handling of the escalating conflict between the two Asian giants, foreign policy experts have said.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Indian counterpart Smt. Sushma Swaraj are scheduled to attend the Asian foreign ministers’ meeting in Manila later this week. And while the North Korean nuclear crisis and South China Sea disputes are expected to dominate the meeting, analysts will also be keeping a close eye on how members of the 10-nation group interact with China and India.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations generally regards a robust Indian presence in the region as a useful deterrent against China, which has been increasingly assertive in its approach to handling territorial issues, as has been the case in the Himalayas.

China and India last week held their first substantial talks since the dispute broke out more than a month ago in the Dolklam region, where the pair shares a border with Bhutan. Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi met Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval in Beijing, though neither showed any signs of backing down and tensions remain high.

Also last week, China’s defense ministry issued its strongest warning yet to India, with a spokesman saying Beijing had stepped up its deployment along the unmarked border and would protect its sovereignty “at all costs”.

Richard Javad Heydarian, a political scientist at the Manila-based De La Salle University, said the stand-off in Doklam had a “spillover effect” by fueling suspicion among countries that are caught in separate territorial disputes with China.

“People are asking, if China is really peaceful, why are there so many countries having disputes with China?” he said.

Such sentiment may create fertile ground for Southeast Asian countries to leverage China’s influence with engagement with India.

Vietnam’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister, Pham Binh Minh, has called on India to play a greater role in the region and to partner with Southeast Asian countries on strategic security and promoting freedom of navigation in South China Sea.

A few days after Minh spoke, Vietnam granted Indian Oil firm ONGC Videsh a two-year extension on its plan to explore a Vietnamese oil block in an area of the South China Sea contested by China and Vietnam.

Analysts said recent developments have wide strategic implications – pointing to how Asia is increasingly defined by the China-India rivalry and the renewed tensions between the two Asian giants.

Nisha Desai Biswal, former US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, was quoted by Indian media PTI as saying that China needs to acknowledge that “there is growing strategic and security capability across Asia” and that “India is a force to be reckoned with”.

Wang Yi on Tuesday backed Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s idea of forming joint energy ventures in the disputed South China Sea, warning that unilateral action could cause problems and damage both sides.

Duterte on Monday said a partner had been found to develop oil fields and exploration, and exploitation would restart this year.

However, analysts warn that India’s strong position in the standoff has strengthened the hawkish voices in the Philippines who seize opportunities to criticise Duterte’s détente policy towards China and “push forward the narrative that the Philippines needs to be careful on how to approach China and its territorial expansion”, Heydarian said.

Under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Act East” policy, India in recent years has formed strategic partnerships with Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, and Northeast Asian countries including Japan and South Korea.

During the “India-Asian Delhi Dialogue IX” early this month, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said New Delhi remained committed to enhancing maritime cooperation with Asian as well as upholding freedom of navigation and respect for international law in the region.

Heydarian suggests that India’s upgrading of its strategic partnership with Asian and increasing its strategic presence in the South China Sea could be a way of pushing back against China.

Even a non-claimant Southeast Asian state such as Thailand “would see the benefit of China being challenged in the South Asia theatre”, said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, an international relations scholar at Bangkok-based Chulalongkorn University.

“India’s standing up to China can only be a boon for Southeast Asian countries even when they don’t say so openly,” he said, “Any major power keeping China in check can only yield geopolitical benefits to Southeast Asia as the region is wary of China’s growing assertiveness.”

But Pongsudhirak also said that India, a “latecomer to Southeast Asia’s geopolitics”, still lacks strategic depth in terms of military reach and economic wherewithal. “But in combination with other middle powers like Japan, India can have a significant impact in Southeast Asia’s power dynamics,” he said.

Despite Southeast Asian countries’ welcoming attitude, India has remained cautious towards more strongly engaging with the region, observers said.

“Southeast Asia is a natural extension of India’s security horizons in light of its growth as a regional power,” said Rajesh Manohar Basrur, a South Asia specialist with Nanyang Technological University.

Basrur said that while competition with China is a major driver of India’s engagement with Southeast Asia, India’s commitment to the region remains limited with measures amounting to no more than “symbolic acts such as military exercises, [to] generate a strategic environment aimed at building up political-psychological pressure on [China].”

Sourabh Gupta, a senior specialist at the Institute for China-America Studies in Washington, said that as India tries to limit fallout from its Doklam intervention, it will not want to expand the theatre of conflict or widen the geography of competition in the short-term.

“But I can foresee India making a qualitatively greater effort, albeit quietly, to build up Vietnam’s naval and law enforcement capacity to confront and deter Chinese assertiveness,” he said.

Gupta also warned that the situation in the South China Sea could lapse into even further conflict.

“India and China have a fairly rich menu of boundary management protocols which effectively translate into engagements between very lightly armed personnel from either side when a standoff breaks out,” he said.

“That is different from the situation in the South and East China Sea where engagement protocols are still very rudimentary and could see sharp Escalator spirals.”

China’s Xi Jinping Is A Master Of Propaganda Which Is “Fake News”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

Chinese leader Xi Jinping 
Getty Images

The art of suppressing dissent has been perfected over the years by authoritarian governments. For most of human history, the solution was simple: force. Punish people severely enough when they step out of line and you deter potential protesters.

But in the age of the internet and “fake news,” there are easier ways to tame dissent.

new study by Gary King of Harvard University, Jennifer Pan of Stanford University, and Margaret Roberts of the University of California San Diego suggests that China is the leading innovator on this front. Their paper, titled “How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, Not Engaged Argument,” shows how Beijing, with the help of a massive army of government-backed internet commentators, floods the web in China with pro-regime propaganda.

What’s different about China’s approach is the content of the propaganda. The government doesn’t refute critics or defend policies; instead, it overwhelms the population with positive news (what the researchers call “cheerleading” content) in order to eclipse bad news and divert attention away from actual problems.

This has allowed the Chinese government to manipulate citizens without appearing to do so. It permits just enough criticism to maintain the illusion of dissent and only acts overtly when fears of mass protest or collective action arise.

To learn more about China’s internet propaganda machine, I reached out to Roberts, one of the authors of the paper. I asked her how successful China has been at manipulating its population and, more importantly, if she thinks this brand of online propaganda will become a model for authoritarianism in the digital age.

You can read our full conversation below.


Sean Illing

How does China use the internet to manipulate its population?

Margaret Roberts

With this particular study, we were motivated by rumors of what’s called the “50 Cent Party” in China [more on this below]. People were convinced that China was engaged in a widespread online propaganda campaign that targeted its own population. But we never had direct evidence that this was ongoing.

Then in 2014, there was a massive leak that revealed what China was doing and how they organized their propaganda machine. So that gave us an opportunity to look at the actual posts the Chinese government was producing and spreading on the web for propagandistic purposes.

We gathered up all the data from the leaked email archive, and that allowed us to explore the content of the propaganda, which is something that no one had done before.

Sean Illing

And what did you find?

Margaret Roberts

We had always thought that the purpose of propaganda was to argue against or undermine critics of the regime, or to simply persuade people that the critics were wrong. But what we found is that the Chinese government doesn’t bother with any of that.

Instead, the content of their propaganda is what we call “cheerleading” content. Basically, they flood the web with overwhelmingly positive content about China’s politics and culture and history. What it amounts to is a sprawling distraction campaign rather than an attempt to sell a set of policies or defend the policies of the regime.

Sean Illing

I want to dive deeper into that, but I want to make sure we don’t glide past the “50 Cent Party” reference. Can you explain what that is?

Margaret Roberts

The 50 Cent Party is a kind of informal branch of the Chinese government that carries out its online propaganda campaign — so these are the foot soldiers who post the content, share the posts, etc. The name stems from the rumor that the members were each paid 50 cents for every post that helped the government. We didn’t find evidence that people were being paid 50 cents, however. It turns out posting online propaganda is just part of a government job.

Sean Illing

Do we have any idea how many members there are or how many people occupy these posts?

Margaret Roberts

The rumor before we started studying this is that it’s something like 2 million people, but we simply don’t know for sure. But we estimate that the government fabricates and posts 448 million social media comments a year.

People stage a rare large-scale protest not far from Tiananmen Square in Beijing on July 24, 2017, in connection with a recent crackdown on a company suspected of being involved in a pyramid scheme.
 Getty Images

Sean Illing

So let’s talk about China’s strategy. In the paper, you point out that China’s government actively manipulates its population, but that it doesn’t necessarily appear that way to its citizens. Part of the reason for this is China’s unusual approach to propaganda, which is to avoid refuting skeptics or defending policies and instead flood the digital space with happy news. What’s the strategic logic behind this approach?

Margaret Roberts

We think the purpose is distraction, because these posts are highly coordinated within certain time periods and the posts are written uniformly over time. They’re actually really bursty (meaning lots of similarly themed posts at the same time). The basic idea seems to be to flood the internet with positive noise in order to drown out bad news and distract from more serious or problematic issues.

Sean Illing

And they believe this is the most effective way to control political discourse?

Margaret Roberts

I think they realized that politics is about controlling the narrative and setting the agenda. Politicians and government officials in China want people to talk about the issues that reflect well on them. Their calculation is pretty simple: If they engage critics on issues that are complicated or reflect poorly on the government, they only amplify the attention those issues receive. So their approach is to ignore the criticisms and shift attention to other topics, and they do that by deluging the internet with positive propaganda.

Sean Illing

Are these positive stories actually true, or are we talking about “fake news”?

Margaret Roberts

This is a really interesting question. A lot of what we found in the leaked archive isn’t fake news. What they’re creating are stories that promote patriotism. They want people talking about and responding to content that favors the regime. But they also want people to think that content is coming from civilians and not from the government, which is why most of this is presented as someone’s opinion.

Sean Illing

What form does this cheerleading content take? What kinds of stories do they promote?

Margaret Roberts

The most common articles we found discussed how great it is to live in China or how wonderful Chinese culture is or how dominant China’s sports teams are — that kind of stuff. We’re not really talking about fact-based material here. It’s just positive stories that flatter the regime and the country.

Again, the point isn’t to get people to believe or care about the propaganda; it’s to get them to pay less attention to stories the government wants to suppress.

Sean Illing

Something else that jumped out at me in the paper was this idea that they want to permit just enough criticism to offer the illusion of dissent, but they want to make sure that there’s never enough criticism to spark collective action.

Margaret Roberts

China monitors the online information environment in order to collect information about the public and what they’re thinking. In that sense, they want people communicating freely. But a problem arises when you have too many people criticizing the government at the same time. There’s a constant risk of collective action or mass protest.

China’s government does its best to distinguish between useful criticisms (the kinds of criticisms that help them figure out how to satisfy the citizenry) and dangerous criticisms (the kinds of criticisms that might lead to mass protest events). They usually wait until there is a possibility for major mobilization against the government before they engage in overt censorship.

Sean Illing

Is China’s use of the internet unique or new? Are other governments doing similar things?

Margaret Roberts

I think there are aspects of the Chinese model that are new and unique, and certainly they’ve been at the forefront of trying to figure out how to control the internet. There is some evidence that other countries are learning from China, but nothing definitive.

Sean Illing

In the paper, you suggest this research might lead us to rethink the notion of “common knowledge” in theories of authoritarian politics — what does that mean?

Margaret Roberts

I think historically a lot of people have thought that common knowledge about things the government maybe has done wrong is detrimental to the regime. This is the idea that any criticism is detrimental to the regime. What we find in China is that criticism can be very helpful to the regime because it can allow them to respond.

But the type of common knowledge that’s really dangerous to the regime is knowledge of protests or other forms of collective action activity. That’s a major threat because it can spread so easily. We’ve seen this over and over throughout world history: Regimes are most vulnerable when small protests escalate into something much broader. This is what China’s government is determined to prevent.

People lie on the ground in Beijing on July 24, 2017, in protest against police for closing the road to a gathering where at least several thousand people staged a rare large-scale rally not far from Tiananmen Square in connection with a recent crackdown on a company suspected of being involved in a pyramid scheme.
 Getty Images

Sean Illing

To be clear, you call China’s approach “strategic distraction,” but it’s really about undercutting the possibilities for organized dissent. Regimes have always tried to capture people’s attention and redirect it in less dangerous directions. The only thing new about China’s operation is its use of the internet.

Margaret Roberts

I think that’s exactly right on.

Sean Illing

Do you think China’s approach to suppressing dissent is uniquely effective in an age of “fake news” and “post-truth”?

Margaret Roberts

The internet has created an environment in which there is a vast amount of information. That means it’s difficult for people to separate out “good” and “bad” information. Because many people have short attention spans online, they can easily be affected by information that looks like something it is not. That’s what China’s online propaganda and fake news have in common — they both take advantage of our short attention spans on the web.

Sean Illing

Is this a model for authoritarianism in the digital age? Should we expect more of this from other governments?

Margaret Roberts

The difficulty with online propaganda, and we’re seeing this in the US and other democracies around the world right now, is that it doesn’t function overtly like traditional forms of censorship. Most people object to blatant censorship. But online propaganda is a form of participation as well as form of censorship, so it’s difficult to know what the right policy is.

People want to introduce information on the web en masse, and that means a lot of noise and opinions and bots and commentators. Are there ways of regulating all of this without censoring ourselves? I think that’s a really hard question, and I don’t have the answers. But I think the world will have to struggle with this new reality of online propaganda, because it isn’t going away.

Chinese media to Trump: Stop the ’emotional venting’ on Twitter

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Chinese media to Trump: Stop the ’emotional venting’ on Twitter

Story highlights

  • An editorial in Chinese state media says tweeting won’t solve the North Korea crisis
  • Trump lashed out at China on Twitter for not stopping Kim Jong Un’s missile program

(CNN) US President Donald Trump should stop conducting his international diplomacy on Twitter, Chinese state media said in a widely-published editorial, syndicated across the country.

“Trump is quite a personality, and he likes to tweet, however emotional venting cannot become the guidance for solving the nuclear issues on the Korean peninsula,” said the editorial, first published on Xinhua Monday evening.
The article came days after Trump wrote a series of tweets saying he was “very disappointed” in China for not doing enough to stop North Korea’s missile program.
“Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk,” he wrote Friday night. “We will no longer allow this to continue.”
The United States had for months put pressure on China to rein in North Korea’s increasingly sophisticated weapons program, but Trump’s tweets have indicated he is tired of waiting for results.
In June he tweeted China’s efforts to restrain North Korea had “not worked out” but said he “greatly appreciated their efforts.”
North Korea successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, which it claimed was capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear device.
In its editorial, Xinhua said it was “definitely irrational” to blame China for North Korea’s missile launch.
“It is obvious to all the enormous efforts China has put to solve the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula … China has no magic wand to solve the (problem),” the article said.
Instead, the widely disseminated editorial blamed the US for the increasing tensions with North Korea by flying bombers over South Korea and ignoring invitations to talks.
“It is urgent to stamp out the fire immediately on the Korean peninsula, not to add kindling, or even worse, to pour oil on the flames,” the article said.
CNN has reached out to the White House for comment and has not yet received a response.
Trump’s comments and the subsequent editorial come at a sensitive time in US, China relations.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a briefing to government staff Tuesday the United States was reaching a “pivot point” in its relationship with China.
“How do we ensure that economic prosperity to the benefit of both countries and the world can continue, and that where we have differences — because we will have differences, we do have differences — that we deal with those differences in a way that does not lead to open conflict,” he said.

Xi says military must obey Communist Party as leadership reshuffle nears

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Xi says military must obey Communist Party as leadership reshuffle nears

Story highlights

  • Speech comes after a major display of force at military parade
  • China currently involved in border disputes in Himalayas and South China Sea

Hong Kong (CNN)Chinese President Xi Jinping has emphasized the Communist Party’s control over the military as he prepares for a key leadership reshuffle later this year.

Speaking Tuesday at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Xi said the military should “carry forward and implement the Party’s absolute leadership.”
“As comrade Mao Zedong once pointed out, our principle is to have the Party command the military, not the military command the Party,” Xi said.
His words came after a major display of military force Sunday in a grand parade at a base in Inner Mongolia, on China’s northern border, in which 12,000 troops, and more than 100 planes took part.

winnie the pooh censorship china jnd orig vstan_00001707

China steps up censorship on the internet 02:37

Power play

Analysts say Xi has taken advantage of the PLA anniversary to firmly establish his personal authority ahead of a Party Congress around November, during which the next Politburo Standing Committee — the most powerful governing body in China, headed by Xi — will be revealed. An exact date for the congress has not been announced.
Speaking after the parade Sunday, Yvonne Chiu, an assistant politics professor at the University of Hong Kong, said Xi wanted to “remind the military that they pledge loyalty to the Party, not the country” and to send a message to the country “that the military is firmly onside with him, especially as they’re still pursuing the anti-corruption campaign, which continues to shake things up and cause uneasiness among the elite.”
While the congress will almost certainly give the 64-year-old Xi another five years as China’s top leader, it has been rumored he will seek to buck an established norm that leaders retire after two terms.
Xi was designated the Party’s “core leader” in October last year, a powerfully symbolic title that was not granted to his predecessor Hu Jintao, who relied on a more consensus-building governance style compared to the all-powerful Xi.
“The importance of the Party’s control over the military is an oft-repeated phrase, but Xi has emphasized it heavily during his tenure,” said Tom Rafferty, China manager at the Economist Intelligence Unit.
He added Xi has sought the backing of “a younger generation of military officers” for his reforms, even as former top generals have fallen foul of corruption investigations.

Chinese soldiers carry the flags of the Communist Party and the People's Liberation Army during a military parade in China's northern Inner Mongolia region on July 30, 2017.

At the same time, a wide-reaching and highly popular anti-corruption campaign has brought down many of Xi’s rivals or potential successors. Typically the next Chinese leader would be obvious by the time of the Party Congress, as Xi was in 2007.
Last month however, Sun Zhengcai, widely seen as a rising star in the Party, was abruptly sacked as boss of Chongqing and placed under investigation for corruption. At 53, Sun was one of only a handful of senior Chinese officials capable of succeeding Xi under the current informal retirement age of 68.
While some have predicted Xi will break with the age cap norm — upheld during the last three leadership turnovers — as to allow himself and his allies to stay on, Chinese leadership analyst Bo Zhiyue told CNN in April that attempting to serve a third term might be more difficult.
“(Even if) he wants to be like Putin in Russia, to stay beyond his second term, we don’t know if this can be realized,” Bo said.

US-China tensions rising

US-China tensions rising 03:15

Border business

While Tuesday’s speech was primarily focused on political matters — encouraging the PLA to root out corruption and follow Marxist military principles — Xi also referenced the army’s increasing role overseas.

China shows off new J-20 stealth fighter

China shows off new J-20 stealth fighter 00:48
“The People’s Army is an army with strong war capabilities,” he said, one that will “never allow any parties to separate any piece of land from China.”
Beijing is currently embroiled in a territorial dispute with India along the countries’ border in the Himalayas, which has seen increased militarization on both sides and angry rhetorical salvos.
Last week, a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman said the country will carry out further military drills in the border region and warned “it is easier to move a mountain than to shake the PLA.”
On its southern border, China is also engaged in multiple arguments over territories in the 3.5 million square kilometer South China Sea — almost all of which is claimed by Beijing.
Xi emphasized the importance of the PLA’s combat readiness, saying that ongoing reforms of the army are key to ensuring its “readiness to defend state sovereignty and maritime interests.”
“(The PLA) has won wars on the borders many times and showed the might of the nation and the military, it must continue to safeguard the borders over the land and the sea,” he said.

Trump responds to N Korea with missile defense test and B-1 drills

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Trump responds to N Korea with missile defense test and B-1 drills

Media caption The US B-1 bombers were joined on Sunday by South Korean and Japanese planes

The US says it has carried out a successful test of its controversial anti-missile system and has flown B-1 bombers over the Korean peninsula.

The exercises are a direct response to recent North Korean missile tests.

A projectile fired by the US Air Force was intercepted over the Pacific by a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) unit in Alaska.

US B-1 bombers also conducted exercises over the Korean peninsula with South Korean and Japanese planes.

On Friday, North Korea test-fired a second intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which it said proved that the entire US was within striking range.

The launch came three weeks after the state’s first ICBM test.

Despite fierce objections from China, the US military has begun installing the Thaad system in South Korea with the aim of shooting down any North Korean missiles fired at the South.

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful test, 29 July 2017Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionThe US says it has successfully shot down a ballistic missile in a test of its Thaad system

On Saturday, US President Donald Trump criticized China for not doing enough to stop Pyongyang’s weapons program while making “billions of dollars” in trade with North Korea.

Mr Trump wrote on Twitter that he was “very disappointed” with China, adding that he would not allow the country to “do nothing” about the isolated state.

But Victor Gao, a former diplomat and Chinese government adviser, said that Mr Trump’s comments were unhelpful, adding that the US was acting like a “spoiled child”.

China, which shares a land border with North Korea and is its closest economic ally, earlier condemned the North’s test launch and urged restraint on all sides.

The US exercises over the weekend were performed as a “direct response” to recent behavior from what is seen as an increasingly belligerent North Korea as it tries to realize its nuclear ambitions.

The show of strength formed “part of the continuing demonstration of ironclad US commitment to our allies”, the US Pacific Command said.

Mr Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping discussed North Korea during talks earlier this year, after which US officials said the two countries were working on “a range of options” to rein in Pyongyang.

But Friday’s ICBM launch demonstrates a defiance from the North, which is showcasing “a significant advancement in technology”, South Korea said.

The North continues to test its missiles in breach of UN resolutions.

Pressure is expected to mount this week for a new UN Security Council resolution to push through tougher sanctions on North Korea.

Its success will depend not only on China’s co-operation but also on Russia, which is concerned by the balance of power in the region.

Map showing estimates of North Korean missile ranges

What is Thaad?

  • Shoots down short- and medium-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase of their flight
  • Uses hit-to-kill technology – where kinetic energy destroys the incoming warhead
  • Has a range of 200km and can reach an altitude of 150km
  • US has previously deployed it in Guam and Hawaii as a measure against potential attacks from North Korea
Thaad missile defence system graphic

1. The enemy launches a missile

2. The Thaad radar system detects the launch, which is relayed to command and control

3. Thaad command and control instructs the launch of an interceptor missile

4. The interceptor missile is fired at the enemy projectile

5. The enemy projectile is destroyed in the terminal phase of flight

The launcher trucks can hold up to eight interceptor missiles.

Thaad system launcher