Thu, Feb 21, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Beware China’s lone-wolf army

By Jana Meisenholder

Cyberwatchdogs and officials from the Czech Republic, Australia, Japan and Europe have denounced support of Huawei Technologies Co building infrastructure for 5G networks, but blocking Chinese access to global telecom networks is not going to fend off a cyberattack.

Additionally, US President Donald Trump’s administration has initiated plans to create an executive order that would allow it to ban any Chinese company from telecom systems in the US, given the laundry list of concerns if access was granted, which includes spying, intellectual property theft and malware.

With so much of the international attention given to Huawei’s potential control over 5G, a technology that is not supposed to arrive for another five to 10 years, there is a much easier and more immediate form of power and control that can be used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at any moment. With 1.4 billion people at its expense and the Internet being an extraordinarily huge platform, individual moderation of anti-China comments or sentiment on publications is not a far-fetched notion.

Yeni Safak, an extreme right-wing Turkish publication, on Feb. 9 reported that 55-year-old Uighur Abdurehim Heyit had died after being tortured in a Chinese detention center in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi. The detention camp is real, but the death is still unconfirmed.

Yeni Safak also has a record for publishing false or misleading material, usually manipulating information in a way that supports Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the notorious leader who is singlehandedly responsible for sending Turkey into a democratic backslide.

Users on popular news feed aggregator and online forum Reddit had repeatedly tried to post links to the article and comments in response, but were met with moderators who kept blocking or removing the posts. In response to the article, Chinese state media released a video with what appears to be Heyit, on the record, stating the date and confirming that he was unharmed and very much alive.

However, the validity of the video remains “suspicious,” said Nury Turkel, chairman of the US-based Uyghur Human Rights Project. He suggested that because China has an abundance of resources and access to advanced technology, a proof-of-life video is no challenge and can be easily doctored.

The moderators insisted that the posts were removed because they did not follow guidelines and that the article was not fact-checked, which is a reasonable argument.

However, users were angry and believed that they were being censored by the Chinese government, given Chinese conglomerate Tencent’s purchase earlier this month of a 4 percent stake in Reddit.

Upon closer inspection of each of the accused moderator’s past activity on the platform, there is not exactly a history of pro-China sentiments or actions that would suggest censorship of anything they deemed harmful to the country’s reputation.

For example, one of the moderators recently commented on a separate thread: “The death of one person is a tragedy; the death of 1.4 billion is a statistic. The whole US 7th Fleet laughs in your face” under a picture of an atomic bomb that had the title: “Wave bye bye bye China.” Yikes.

There was no proof that these moderators are puppets of the regime and their activity online suggests otherwise, but by removing any comments in response to the Uighur article, it effectively feeds an assured and familiar narrative to the CCP, a dictatorship that has had its own long and successful proven track record with censorship and brainwashing of its citizens. A country, where unsurprisingly, Reddit is banned.

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Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

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