Category Archives: Internet

The winds of net-war: China warns of US arms race in cyberspace

Staking territory in cyberspace

In recent weeks the Chinese government has delivered strong messages about internet sovereignty to both international and domestic audiences. Despite confirming its commitment to working with the rest of the international community “to create a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyber space”, Beijing has given every indication that it regards recent acts of US cyber-aggression as signaling the onset of a new internet-based cold war.

Early in June, the Chinese foreign ministry and the UN Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific co-hosted the International Workshop on Information and Cyber Security in Beijing. In his opening address in front of international media and representatives of 20 nations and international organizations, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong launched a blistering attack on the US for turning the internet into a new great power battlespace.

Minister Li condemned the massive-scale surveillance activities by an “individual country”, which have “severely infringed on other countries’ sovereignty and their citizen’s privacy”. “Instead of reflecting on its behaviors that undermine the sovereignty of other countries and privacy of citizens”, alleged Minister Li, “it has painted itself as a victim and made groundless accusations against or defamed other countries”… read on at the DiploFoundation

 

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Online Reputation Management for Governments: in the national interest or out of the dictator’s playbook?

According to media commentary, the flourishing business of online reputation management (ORM) straddles an ethical divide between protecting against falsifications and perpetrating them.  Its techniques inhabit several ethical shades of gray, from reputation monitoring, defamation clean-up and positive content promotion to SEO manipulation, negative review removal and astroturfing practices.  But if ORM poses ethical concerns in relation to its use by private businesses and individuals, how then should its use by governments be regarded?

Thor Halvorssen, president of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, argues that ‘reputation management’ can be a euphemism of the worst sort.  “In many cases across Africa, it often means whitewashing the human rights violations of despotic regimes with fluff journalism and, just as easily, serving as personal PR agents for rulers and their corrupt family members”.  It can also work to drown out criticism, branding dissidents and critics as criminals, terrorists or extremists… Read more at DiploFoundation

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[Propaganda poster in Beijing reinforcing the CCP’s official ‘harmonious society’ narrative. From the Line 21 Project collection]

Center to Periphery (Part II): territorial sovereignty in Chinese cyberspace

This post is Part Two of a two-part piece, the first of which was posted on 02 December on the DiploFoundation’s Internet Governance channel.

In late November, Reuters reported Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google Inc, as forecasting that the rise of social media in China will lead to liberalization. “You won’t be able to stop it”, he stated, “even if you don’t like it.” In another November report, Reuters quoted Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, as saying that Beijing will ultimately free up China’s internet for economic reasons. “The Berlin Wall tumbled down, the great firewall of China – I don’t think it will tumble down, I think it will be released.”

In the early 1980s, it was Deng Xiaoping’s policies of ‘reform and opening up’ that had prompted foreign commentators to predict that China’s days as an authoritarian state were numbered. Liberal thinkers jumped quickly to the conclusion that China’s experimentation with capitalism in designated zones on its coastal peripheries would lead inevitably to democratization.

That was 30 years ago. Since then, radical economic liberalization has been wrought across China, resulting in historically unprecedented economic and social transformation. But despite the predictions, these winds of change have carried with them not the slightest hint of political liberalization.

It would appear that Schmidt and Berners-Lee see the internet as the missing ingredient. Available evidence would suggest otherwise.

In part one of this post, I used a center-periphery approach to provide an overview of how Beijing controls and utilizes China’s geopolitical space. In this part, I consider how Beijing’s management of geopolitical space is paralleled in the virtual world and in how Beijing controls its cyber borders. Read more…

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[Shanghai – host of a new pilot free trade zone]

 

Center to Periphery: differentiating spheres of control in China’s cyberspace

Center-periphery approach to viewing Chinese space

Center-periphery approach to viewing Chinese space

International news features regular reports of tensions on China’s borders. Chinese relations along its maritime frontier, for example, are dominated by acrimony over the disputed Spratly and Diaoyutai/Senkaku Islands. Thousands of kilometers to the west, China closely guards its Central Asian borders against the infiltration of Islamist extremists.

Respect for and protection of national sovereignty has long been a cornerstone of Chinese foreign policy, and it defines how Beijing conducts itself within the international system. Increasingly we are witnessing this not only in the geopolitical space but in cyberspace as well.

Utilizing a center-periphery approach, this two-part post will provide an overview of how China’s ideas and uses of geopolitical space are paralleled in the virtual world and in how Beijing controls its cyber borders. Read more at DiploFoundation…

CNN – Chinese police in crackdown on ‘online jihad’

Line 21 Project coordinator Nicholas Dynon was interviewed this afternoon for an article published by CNN this evening on the recent Chinese crackdown on ‘online jihad’ in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Read the article at http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/09/world/asia/china-xinjiang-arrests/

Inside CNN

Inside CNN (Photo credit: Wikipedia)