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The Great Firewall of China

Friday, 17 May 2002 12:00 AM

For nearly a thousand years the Great Wall of China protected the Asian empire from foreign invasion. Today, red China is installing a great "firewall," hoping to stem the tide of foreign ideas from invading the authoritarian one-party state.

Despite claims to be an open society, China has an extraordinary fear of free information. For example, when President George Bush recently visited the Shanghai economic conference inside China, the communist government removed blocks on the Web sites of several U.S. news services.

Immediately after President Bush left Shanghai, the paranoid red forces quickly re-imposed the Internet blocks. Today, the ordinary Chinese citizen cannot indulge in reading the perverted online views of CNN or the Washington Post.

Chinese authorities have shut down more than 17,000 Internet cafes since April 2001. The Internet cafes were guilty of allowing Chinese citizens to surf without special blocking software required by the central government. In addition, the Chinese authorities ordered another 28,000 cafes to install special monitoring software, allowing the local police to watch the Internet browsing of customers.

Chinese information oppression often goes much farther than simply shutting down illegal Internet web browsing. In June 2000, Huang Qi, a computer engineer from Chengdu, was arrested for putting up an online missing persons search website.

Huang ran afoul of the communist authorities when he assisted in the return of seven girls abducted from their homes by a slave trading gang. Unfortunately for Huang, the gangsters had connections of their own inside the hierarchy of the local red government.

The red police confiscated Huang's computer equipment and shut down his web site. Communist authorities later charged that Huang was guilty of "organizing national separatism, destroying national unity" and "subverting the socialist system."

"The following night, June 6, I was taken to a detention center, where the authorities assigned a fellow inmate to monitor me," Huang wrote in a letter recently smuggled out of jail.

"The inmate ordered me to sleep next to the urinal. My head rested only 60 centimeters from the genitals of inmates as they relieved themselves, drenching me in their urine," wrote Huang.

"Every night, I was put in heavy shackles and tasted urine as my head rested near the urinal. ... If I put myself in danger to rescue seven missing girls from the countryside, help over 2,000 families reunite, sell all my belongings to start a missing persons search service to help people and make it possible for thousands of people to air their grievances, please tell me how this can be considered as attempting to subvert the government?"

In August 2001, Huang was tried in a closed court. No verdict or sentence has ever been announced. A government official told Huang's wife, "After your husband is sentenced, don't expect your son to go to school or to have any future."

The central communist government has willing partners in stomping on people like Huang. Western companies, lured by promises of big contracts, have been eager to obtain contracts in red China in order to help build its great "firewall."

U.S.-based Cisco Systems and Canadian-based Nortel Networks are working closely with the People's Armed Police developing oppressive and intrusive computer systems to monitor, track and prosecute illegal Internet web browsers.

Nortel has contracts with Datang Telecom, a Chinese firm that works closely with the Chinese Ministry of State Security. Nortel has provided its "Personal Internet" suite to the MSS, allowing authorities to monitor and track nearly half of China's individual Internet users.

Nortel is currently working with the communist authorities in Shanghai to build a "Shasta 5000" firewall. The firewall allows the red thought police to monitor and track subscribers who access Internet web sites judged inappropriate by the communist government.

Western companies are working closely with the red police to track every citizen in China, developing everything from smart-card IDs to phone-tapping equipment. For example, Nortel is currently working with Qinghua University on speech-recognition technology for automated tapping of telephone conversations.

Ironically, Nortel was a strong and early supporter of the U.S. FBI plans to develop a national telephone surveillance system. The Chinese division of Nortel manufactured the first electronic systems accepted by the FBI as the new standard for American phone taps in Guangdong.

The Chinese People's Armed Police (PAP) is also well equipped with U.S.-made equipment to track, identify and quickly jail any dissidents. Sun Microsystems has a contract with the Public Security Bureau to make use of instant computer identification of fingerprints.

In 1995, the Clinton administration allowed the PAP to purchase $100 million in Motorola secure radios and cell phones. Documents obtained from the Ron Brown Commerce Department show that in June 1995, then-President Bill Clinton personally OK'd the export of Motorola secure radios and cell phones directly to the PAP with the stroke of his pen on a waiver.

Clearly, the Chinese security police might have some conversations to hide on its Motorola secure radio system. The PAP is the uniformed strong arm of the communist party. It is PAP's job to enforce the laws of the party, including the execution of dissidents, beating of the Falun Gong and the forced abortion of pregnant women who do not have a license to be pregnant.

In 1998, Harry Wu confirmed that PAP officers are currently equipped with Motorola radios. Wu was arrested and eventually deported from China. Wu reported that he was quickly identified by Chinese security police officers after they checked his records on an American-made computer system.

According to Wu, the Chinese police officials were in real-time contact with the main office's computers in Beijing, using an American-made satellite uplink. After his arrest, the officers escorted him to prison, taking their orders over American-made secure radios from Motorola.

Despite the U.S. assistance, China continues to maintain a false image of a friendly power. In May, during an official visit with bipartisan members of the U.S. Congress, China's Vice President, Hu Jintao, talked about the importance of open discussions between China and the United States. Hu is the leading candidate to replace current Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

Hu then refused to accept four letters from members of Congress delivered by House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi. The letters raised human rights issues and urged China to release political prisoners.

"I had been hopeful that we could at least talk about human rights issues in China and Tibet," stated Rep. Pelosi.

"But Mr. Hu's refusal demonstrates how serious the problem remains. China's human rights abuses continue to be an obstacle in developing the full potential of relations between our two countries."

I have news for Rep. Pelosi. The kinds of checks and balances in American justice are not present inside the red Chinese totalitarian state. Congress should consider the sale of advanced surveillance and monitoring technology to China as an obstacle to developing the full potential of relations.

The use of sophisticated U.S. technology to track, monitor and oppress should also serve as a warning here in the United States. There are many here who would willingly trade their freedoms for the shallow veneer of security offered by a police state.

Suggestions such as Smart Card national IDs, micro-chip implants, and intrusive video, telephone and computer taps are just a few modern inventions that even George Orwell never dreamed of. The electronic chains to enslave should neither be made here nor exported to enslave others.

Beijing has much to fear. The U.S. military has warships, airplanes, missiles and computer warriors poised to strike at the Chinese army on command. However, the greatest threat to Beijing is not the American war machine. It is the truth.

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For nearly a thousand years the Great Wall of China protected the Asian empire from foreign invasion.Today, red China is installing a great firewall, hoping to stem the tide of foreign ideas from invading the authoritarian one-party state. Despite claims to be an open...
The,Great,Firewall,China
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2002-00-17
Friday, 17 May 2002 12:00 AM
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