While the U.S. routinely asks allies to extradite drug lords, arms dealers and other criminals, arresting a major Chinese executive like this is rare — if not unprecedented.
“The timing and manner of this is shocking,” Andrew Gilholm, director of North Asia analysis at Control Risks Group, said by phone. “It’s not often the phrase OMG appears in our internal email discussions. ”
John Hennessy, the chair of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., was recently asked whether Google providing a search engine in China that censored results would provide a net benefit for Chinese users. “I don’t know the answer to that. I think it’s — I think it’s a legitimate question,” he responded. “Anybody who does business in China compromises some of their core values. Every single company, because the laws in China are quite a bit different than they are in our own country.”
Hennessy’s remarks were in relation to Project Dragonfly, a once-secret project within Google to build a version of its search engine that meets the demands of the ruling Chinese Communist Party — namely, that Google proactively censor “sensitive” speech and comply with China’s data provenance and surveillance laws.
I worked as a research scientist at Google when Dragonfly was revealed — including to most Google employees — and resigned in protest after a month of internally fighting for clarification. That’s part of why I object to this constant drift of conversations about Dragonfly from concrete, indefensible details toward the vague language of difficult compromise.
Bruce Schneier is skeptical of the Bloomberg supply-chain attack on Apple and Amazon servers, among others. He said if it was true, we’d have seen a photo of the chip by now.
That raises a good thumb rule for judging the veracity of any explosive investigative report. Particularly high-profile sexual harassment charges, like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. Corroborating reports start to come out after the initial expose.
Sometimes I don’t know why I bother! – Charles Stross:
Ignaz Trebitsch-Lincoln (Wikipedia biography here) … was (variously) a Jewish, Presbyterian, Buddhist, spy, British MP, Nazi, propagandist, and would-be Balkan oil cartel mogul. Oh, I forgot to mention: claimed reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and Japanese-backed candidate for the Emperor of China. (Not bad for a poor shtetl boy who started out as a Hungarian orthodox Jewish yeshiva student.) Nothing about this man makes any sense whatsoever unless he’s a character from a movie script written by Thomas Pynchon for Woody Allen.
Ilya Somin, a professor of law at George Mason University, writes at the Washington Post that it’s important to remember the abuses of communism as we do for fascism, for the same reason — so history doesn’t repeat itself.
The horrendous history of China, the USSR, and their imitators, should have permanently discredited socialism as completely as fascism was discredited by the Nazis. But it has not – so far – fully done so.
Just recently, the socialist government of Venezuela imposed forced labor on much of its population. Yet most of the media coverage of this injustice fails to note the connection to socialism, or that the policy has parallels in the history of the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and other similar regimes. One analysis even claims that the real problem is not so much “socialism qua socialism,” but rather Venezuela’s “particular brand of socialism, which fuses bad economic ideas with a distinctive brand of strongman bullying,” and is prone to authoritarianism and “mismanagement.” The author simply ignores the fact that “strongman bullying” and “mismanagement” are typical of socialist states around the world. The Scandinavian nations – sometimes cited as examples of successful socialism- are not actually socialist at all, because they do not feature government ownership of the means of production, and in many ways have freer markets than most other western nations.
These are excellent points. But it is also true that capitalism seems joined at the hip with imperialism, genocide, and mass poverty, with slavery of one kind or another endemic to capitalist societies the way hip dysplasia is common to some breeds of dogs.
So if both socialism and capitalism are broken, then what?
Somin makes another point that’s inarguably true: The Great Leap Forward and other abuses of communism must be remembered because their survivors are still alive, and deserve respect and financial compensation.
Back in the 1930s, Ruth Harkness was a bohemian Manhattan socialite and Chinese explorer. She brought the first live giant panda back to the US from China in 1936 “not in a cage, or on a leash, but wrapped in her arms.”
The Memory Palace podcast has more: “Natural Habitat.”
None of this means, however, that we can rest content with democracy’s performance over the past couple of decades. My end-of-history hypothesis was never intended to be deterministic or a simple prediction of liberal democracy’s inevitable triumph around the world. Democracies survive and succeed only because people are willing to fight for the rule of law, human rights and political accountability. Such societies depend on leadership, organizational ability and sheer good luck.
The biggest single problem in societies aspiring to be democratic has been their failure to provide the substance of what people want from government: personal security, shared economic growth and the basic public services (especially education, health care and infrastructure) that are needed to achieve individual opportunity. Proponents of democracy focus, for understandable reasons, on limiting the powers of tyrannical or predatory states. But they don’t spend as much time thinking about how to govern effectively. They are, in Woodrow Wilson’s phrase, more interested in “controlling than in energizing government.”
With the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests coming June 4, the Chinese government is tightening a fist of censorship.
BEIJING — Even by the standards of the clampdowns that routinely mark politically sensitive dates in China, the approach this year to June 4, the anniversary of the day in 1989 when soldiers brutally ended student-led protests in Tiananmen Square, has been particularly severe.
The days preceding June 4 often mean house arrest for vocal government critics and an Internet scrubbed free of even coded references to the crackdown that dare not speak its name.
But this year, the 25th anniversary of the bloodshed that convulsed the nation and nearly sundered the Communist Party, censors and security forces have waged an aggressive “stability maintenance” campaign that has sent a chill through the ranks of Chinese legal advocates, liberal intellectuals and foreign journalists.
In recent weeks, a dozen prominent scholars and activists have been arrested or criminally detained, and even seemingly harmless gestures, like posting a selfie in Tiananmen Square while flashing a V for victory, have led to detentions.
The police have been warning Western journalists to stay away from the square in the coming days or “face grave consequences,” according to several reporters summoned to meetings with stone-faced public security officials.
It’s a maglev train that runs in near vacuum.
1,800 mph is California to London in three hours. Plus another three hours getting the happy ending patdown from airport security.
The trip would take two days, passing through Russia, 125 miles the Bering Strait, down Alaska and Canada to finish up in the US.
And it’ll be nicer than going from Ontario, CA to San Diego by bus.