Two on China, One on Venezuela

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Latest on the Chinese "Crackdown"

The Chinese government brutally put down a land seizure protest recently, killing at least 20. In the latest development, which today's TIA Daily points out could be either a ploy by the regime to save face or a sign that the regime is loosening up some more, the government has detained the police commander who ordered the crackdown.

The main official newspapers in the provincial capital of Guangzhou said that "the commander at the scene dealt with the situation improperly and brought about mistaken deaths and accidental injuries," and that he has been detained by local prosecutors as part of a criminal investigation.

The report asserted that the commander's actions were made "under particularly urgent circumstances," and said legal responsibility should be borne by "a tiny minority of troublemakers" who led the protests over compensation for farmland confiscated to build a wind-powered electricity plant.

The report did not identify the commander or his unit, nor did it specify how he mishandled the protests. Residents have said that anti-riot police and members of the People's Armed Police, which is under Chinese military command, participated in the incident, firing handguns and automatic rifles at farmers and fishermen who attacked them with gasoline bombs and explosive charges.
But just because the Chi-comms are having an interesting time reconciling the urges to (1) slay protesters and (2) avoid comparisons with Tiananmen, that doesn't mean they aren't doing what they can to undermine American military superiority through espionage.

Chinese Military Behind Hacker Attacks

Recent arrests in Los Angeles highlighted the enormous problem posed to our national security by Chinese espionage. This article shows that the Chinese military is helping those efforts along in an unconventional way.
A systematic effort by hackers to penetrate US government and industry computer networks stems most likely from the Chinese military, the head of a leading security institute said. The attacks have been traced to the Chinese province of Guangdong, and the techniques used make it appear unlikely to come from any other source than the military, said Alan Paller, the director of the SANS Institute, an education and research organization focusing on cybersecurity.
So far, our response to this has been precisely the opposite of what we need to do. We have been sticking our heads in the sand. The results are both alarming and predictable.
Paller said the US government strategy appears to be to downplay the attacks, which has not helped the situation.

"We have a problem that our computer networks have been terribly and deeply penetrated throughout the United States ... and we've been keeping it secret," he said.

"The people who benefit from keeping it secret are the attackers."

Although Paller said the hackers probably have not obtained classified documents from the Pentagon, which uses a more secure network, it is possible they stole "extremely sensitive" information.

He said it has been documented that US military flight planning software from its Redstone Arsenal was stolen.
For further reading on Chinese espionage, this Christian Science Monitor piece is pretty good.

Chavez Buying off American Voters

I have mentioned before that China's main ally in the Western Hemisphere, , Hugo Chavez, has plans to boost his public image in the United States through an "oil for the poor" program. This article explains how.
Chavez announced the program in August, but the initiative began making headlines after Citgo rolled out its first two chapters: 8 million gallons for New York City, with a pilot program already under way in the Bronx; and 12 million for Massachusetts. Both programs work with local charities.

Since those deals were brokered by democratic lawmakers friendly to Chavez -- New York Rep. Jose Serrano and Massachusetts Rep. William Delahunt -- critics alleged that he's using the oil card for political gain.

"He is the biggest hawk in OPEC when it comes to price target discussions," says Pedro Burelli, an anti-Chavez activist and former director of PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company that controls Citgo. "While a few families are getting relief out of this PR stunt, all consumers in the region are paying much more for their oil needs due to Chavez's dream of oil at a $100 a barrel."

But politicians and government officials say they are only serving constituents who need help getting them through this winter of high fuel prices.
So while we let this tin pot dictator remain in power, propping up Cuba and meddling throughout the region, he does what he can to keep oil prices high -- so he can then look like the savior of America's poor with the help of American politicians who share his statist political philosophy.

-- CAV


Gus Van Horn said...

This is in reply to a comment which I have deleted entirely because it contained an ad. I replicate it below.

" Johan van Rooyen said...

'all consumers in the region are paying much more for their oil needs due to Chavez's dream of oil at a $100 a barrel.'

What absurd nonsense. The oil price is where it's at because of the war on Iraq."


In one sense, you make (or at least bring up) a good point. Oil prices are not dictated by Hugo Chavez, although he certainly influences them. In that respect, he is a hypocrite when he poses as some sort of great benefactor of the poor, as this article points out.

The explanation for where oil prices are is certainly due to more than one thing. A few others to consider: (1) The West has appeased the Arab countries in the Middle East for a half-century. (This started with Iran nationalizing American-owned oil fields and other countries following suit. I gues socialism didn't keep oil prices down then and it doesn't now, either.) (2) Demand, notably from developing countries in Asia, has increased dramaitically in recent years. (3) Environmentalal regulations keep domestic production down and worsen the situation by making new refineries unprofitable. There has not been a new refinery built in the United States in at least a quarter-century. (4) Remember Hurricanes Katrina and Rita? That's when the prices really spiked.

On the other hand, the war in Iraq not only is not the sole reason for current oil prices, it may not even be a major factor. It seems not to have had much of an effect on prices, except possibly to keep them lower by ensuring that the supplies in the region are not under the control of even more unfriendly governments than they already are.

Johan, you are welcome to post here in reply, but you may not link back to your business. (Use the anonymous comment feature of Blogger to do so.) This blog is my property and I require payment to host ads, if I decide to do so.

-- CAV

Gus Van Horn said...

Just leaving another comment to bump the counter up to where it ought to be.


Anonymous said...

Is their some benefit to bumping up your counter?

Gus Van Horn said...


Only a small one: It would be easier to tell I'd responded to the previous comment for anyone who had been here before. Not really a big deal, but I did it anyway, being in a bit of a hurry and not giving the matter that much thought.