Monday, December 21, 2015

Ridiculous and stupid

Ridiculous and stupid

The US, presided by Attorney General Eric Holder, held an unprecedented press conference announcing that the US grand jury has indicted five Chinese for 31 counts of economic espionage and trade secret theft.  The five identified as members of China’s People’s Liberation Army belonging to Unit 61398 were Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhui.

The alleged cyber espionage was reported  by Mandiant, a US information security firm,  stating that the five carried out their hacking activities in Shanghai “to steal broad categories of intellectual property, including technology blueprints, proprietary manufacturing processes, test results, business plans, pricing documents, partnership agreements, and emails and contract lists from victims organizations’ leadership.”    The US companies affected by the alleged data theft were aluminum giant Alcoa, US Steel, the US Steelworkers Union, electricity and nuclear energy firm Westinghouse, Allegheny Technologies Inc., and Solar World.
China, through its Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, was quick to term the allegation “extremely ridiculous,” adding it constitutes a “grave violation of the basic norms of international relations that could harm Chinese-US cooperation and mutual trust.”  Aside from demanding that the charge be rescinded, China retaliated by halting participation in the US-China dialogue to curb internet hacking.   China’s State Internet Information Office accused the US of hacking Chinese computers from US soil.  Between March 19 and May 18, some 2,077 “botnet servers” in the US wielded control over 1.18 million computers in China.  During the same two months period, US-based Internet addresses were the source of some 57,000 “backdoor” attackers on Chinese computers.
The accusation against China failed to generate the expected impact.  Instead, China turned the tables by reminding the US that it does not have the high moral ground and the credibility to raise that issue against China.  The revelation made by Edward Snowden, an ex-CIA systems analyst, of the extensive internet and phone surveillance activities of the US National Security Agency (NSA), is something the world knows what the US has been doing for quite sometime now.   
The cyber-espionage activity of the NSA is definitely not an isolated undertaking, but is officially sanctioned to purposely eavesdrop conversations of government officials, business leaders, and individuals where the US could extract information useful to its national security, commercial and trade interest, and even at times use them to blackmail not-so-friendly political leaders.    After obtaining a secret court order, the US directed one of its telecommunication company, Verizon, to hand over all its telephone data to the NSA.  The NSA was also able to directly tap into the servers of nine internet firms including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to track online communications in a surveillance program known as Prism.
The cyber-espionage of the US has somewhat been characterized by filial relations with its blood-brother in Europe.  UK’s own electronic spy agency, the GCHQ, has been sharing data with the NSA in operation code-name Tempora.  The NSA also tapped  the cell phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and collected information by tapping the three undersea cables with terminals to eavesdrop telephone calls and internet traffic in Italy. Not even its own allies were spared as when the NSA spied on the offices of the European Union.
Clandestine operations today are not so much of wanting to extract information vital to US national security, but to put US corporations on the edge, vis-à-vis preempt rivals in any  commercial and trade transactions.  That is why many were astounded by the US Attorney General’s attempt to naively distinguish espionage for national security consideration from espionage for  purposes of gathering commercial and trade secrets, and conveniently elevating the latter to one of theft.  One could sense that the US wants to pin down China, while exculpating itself based on its self-serving claim of focusing  only in securing its national security.      
That claim has in fact been debunked when Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff canceled her state visit to Washington to show her displeasure after finding that the NSA had been spying on its state-owned oil company Petrobras.  Practically all heads of state, including our blindly pro-American president, embassies and missions have been targeted for spying using “extraordinary range” spying methods to intercept messages, including bugs, specialized antennae and wire taps.  It was also revealed that the US intercepted the top-secret communications of then Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, during his visit to Britain to attend the G20 summit in London in April 2013.
To the public mind, it does not matter whether the data obtained pertain to the state’s national security or of its trade, commercial interest or that the theft was done by copying or hacking those secret files.   What matters is that there was a breach of its security. For the US to delineate the charge against the five Chinese is  to advance a ridiculous and absurd theory that would legitimize its covert but illegal activities which nobody at this point is prepared to accept.  The unexpected distinction brings forth the usual scheming motivation of the US.  
Even if we take it that in our age of cyberspace, loss can happen without the thief barging into the office of another, but by merely hacking said documents stored in the computers, that theory has yet to be made into law and incorporated as part of international law, but definitely not for the US to unilaterally enforce as it now attempts on the case of the five Chinese.     In fact, the  US and Israel tried to sabotage and paralyze Iran’s nuclear power plants using their  super secret virus called Stuxnet worms to destroy Iran’s nuclear software program.  Iran having more common sense could only take the necessary precaution to protect its faculties from cyber-attacks.
It is for this why the US looked more ridiculous when it announced the indictment of the five Chinese.   The theft, as the Chinese would put it, is now shouting to  the world to catch the alleged thief.   But how could they, when the one shouting is the biggest thief?  The circus not only  exposed the gravity of their own credulity, but made those who appeared in that press conference looked more like pathetic clowns entertaining the thought  that  US laws  are applicable anywhere.

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