China's Xi Jinping Has No Easy Way Out
China's zero-COVID policy may unwind, but it might not happen at the government's pace.In mid-October, China's pandemic performance helped justify Xi's norm-breaking third term as leader of the long-ruling Communist Party. The pageantry took place as an estimated 200 million of China's 1.4 billion people were in lockdown. As of late November, more than double that number were still living under restrictions, according to economists at Nomura.
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Threat actors allegedly looking for contacts and monitoring org's future plans
The Canadian branch of Amnesty International was the target of an attack it has pinned on a Chinese state-sponsored actor.…
The human rights organization said it could not find evidence of donor or membership data theft, but it was speaking publicly about the attack to "caution other human rights defenders on the rising threat of digital security breaches."
The attackers reportedly sought the organization's contacts and details of its future plans.
The org brought on cyber security and forensic experts to investigate and protect its systems after it detected suspicious activity in its IT infrastructure in early October.
Countering China's grand strategy
A distracted and naive West must strengthen its alliances.The centerpiece of this grand strategy is the necessity to secure its geographic heartland. It is clear that Chinese strategists have read their Mackinder and Mahan. Accordingly, China has worked assiduously to undermine the U.S.-led alliance system along the Asian Rimland and invested heavily in naval, missile, and other military capabilities. Recent decades have seen the PRC pursue a massive military buildup, including an ambitious maritime modernization program. Today, the size of its navy rivals that of the U.S. Navy.
"The investigation's preliminary results indicate that a digital security breach was perpetrated using tools and techniques associated with specific advanced persistent threat groups (APTs)," states Amnesty's assessment of the incident. The org added that infosec vendor Secureworks determined the attack was likely conducted at the direction of Beijing, thanks to the presence of telltale tools and behaviors associated with Chinese hack gangs.
Amnesty secretary general Ketty Nivyabandi tweeted that the cyber attack knocked the org's Canadian office offline for nearly three weeks.
"As an organization advocating for human rights globally, we are very aware that we may be the target of state-sponsored attempts to disrupt or surveil our work," said Nivyabandi, adding that the group would not be intimidated by the act.
China security forces are well-prepared for quashing dissent
BEIJING (AP) — When it comes to ensuring the security of their regime, China’s Communist Party rulers don't skimp. The extent of that lavish spending was put on display when the boldest street protests in decades broke out in Beijing and other cities, driven by anger over rigid and seemingly unending restrictions to combat COVID-19. The government has been preparing for such challenges for decades, installing the machinery needed to quash large-scale upheavals. After an initially muted response, with security personnel using pepper spray and tear gas, police and paramilitary troops flooded city streets with jeeps, vans and armored cars in a massive show of force.
"We will continue to shine a light on human rights violations wherever they occur and to denounce the use of digital surveillance by governments to stifle human rights," declared Nivyabandi.
Amnesty International has been critical about China's human rights record and its use of surveillance tools. In September 2020, it released a report on European companies who sold surveillance tools to China's public security agencies and advocated a revision of EU export regulations to prevent subsequent human right abuses.
In June 2021, it signed an open letter calling for a global ban on biometric technologies that enable mass surveillance. China was one of the countries it said "harmed people's right to privacy and right to free assembly and association." The org further detailed that "the surveillance of ethnic and religious minorities and other marginalized and oppressed communities" in China "violated people's right to privacy and their rights to equality and non-discrimination."
The coming China rebrand
One-party systems do have some advantages over democracies, but crackdowns come with a cost. Just this week, Formula One announced it is canceling next year’s Chinese Grand Prix in light of COVID-19 policies in China. Even if China gets back to business as usual, it has drawn the attention of global media for its negative policies. So, expect China to start another rebranding campaign with its new, lighter COVID touch, as it is doing with its Confucius Institutes. Branding a nation is important work. Tara D. Sonenshine is the Edward R. Murrow Professor of Practice at the Fletcher School at Tufts University.
Since the October cyber attack, Amnesty International has called on China to cease detaining protesters involved in recent demonstrations across the Middle Kingdom.
"Unfortunately, China's playbook is all too predictable. Censorship and surveillance will continue, and we will most likely see police use of force and mass arrests of protesters in the coming hours and days. Long prison sentences against peaceful protesters are also to be expected," lamented Hana Young, a director at Amnesty International.
"Amnesty International Canada's openness and transparency about recent events will undoubtedly help all organizations facing persistent and sophisticated threat actors. The more we create an environment in which organizations can share their experiences, knowledge and threat intelligence, the stronger the collective global cybersecurity industry becomes," Secureworks told The Register. ®
Taiwan Is Already Fighting Back .
How Beijing tries to make a democracy submit without putting up a fightThe story rapidly migrated into the mainstream Taiwanese media. Journalists attacked the government: Why had Chinese diplomats moved so quickly and effectively? Why were the Taiwanese so incompetent? News organizations in Taiwan described the incident as a national embarrassment, especially for a country whose leaders proclaim they have no need for support from China. Headlines declared, “To Get on the Bus, One Has to Pretend to Be Chinese,” and “Taiwanese Follow China Bus.