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TOPPLE TUESDAY  Hundreds of thousands of protestors turn out in Hong Kong to give Communist China the big fat middle finger of democracy.  (Photos of demonstrators braving torrential rains and another waving the flag of colonial Hong Kong by Dale De La Rey / AFP-Getty Images and Vincent Yu / AP via the New York Times)

The US Justice Department is charging figures linked to the Chinese military with stealing US trade secrets, in an escalation of tensions with China over economic espionage.

Suspicions about extensive corporate data theft have swirled around China for years, but never before has the US formally accused the People’s Liberation Army with criminal activity.

Last year, a report by the information security firm Mandiant concluded that a unit of the PLA, known as Unit 61398, was likely behind data theft comprising hundreds of terabytes. It found that the scale of the espionage was unlikely to have occurred without government sponsorship.

But it is unlikely that the US accusation will result in placing Chinese officials in custody, and some diplomatic risk is likely. James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the effect would be “intangible” but the formal accusation “sends a strong message” to Beijing.

The cybercrime accusations come as the disclosures surrounding the National Security Agency indicate that at least some US surveillance redounds to America’s economic benefit.

The Guardian, "U.S. to Bring Criminal Charges Against Chinese Officials in Espionage Probe."

This should do as much as the sanctions against Russia have done in re: the Ukraine.

President Benigno S. Aquino III called on Tuesday for nations around the world to do more to support the Philippines in resisting China’s assertive claims to the seas near his country, drawing a comparison to the West’s failure to support Czechoslovakia against Hitler’s demands for Czech land in 1938.

Like Czechoslovakia, the Philippines faces demands to surrender territory piecemeal to a much stronger foreign power and needs more robust foreign support for the rule of international law if it is to resist, President Aquino said in a 90-minute interview in the wood-paneled music room of the presidential palace.

“If we say yes to something we believe is wrong now, what guarantee is there that the wrong will not be further exacerbated down the line?” he said. He later added, “At what point do you say, ‘Enough is enough’? Well, the world has to say it — remember that the Sudetenland was given in an attempt to appease Hitler to prevent World War II.”

Mr. Aquino’s remarks are among the strongest indications yet of alarm among Asian heads of state about China’s military buildup and territorial ambitions, and the second time in recent weeks that an Asian leader has volunteered a comparison to the prelude to world wars.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan caused a stir in Davos, Switzerland, when he noted last month that Britain and Germany went to war in 1914 even though they had close economic ties — much as China and Japan have now.

Japan has been locked in an increasingly tense standoff with China over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, and even South Korea, which has been quieter about Chinese claims, expressed alarm last year when Beijing announced that it had the right to police the skies above a vast area of ocean, including areas claimed by Tokyo and Seoul.

While China’s efforts to claim rocks, shoals and fishing grounds off the coast of the Philippines in the South China Sea have been less high-profile, the Chinese have moved faster there.

The New York Times, "Philippines Leader Sounds Alarm On China."

Good for President Aquino.  The Chinese government is being a bullying motherfucker here.

BVT News Roundup 28 January 2014.

BVT News Roundup 1 January 2014.

We’re gonna need a bigger floatie.

Afternoon News Read 18 December 2013.

Evening News Read 26 November 2013.

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Afternoon News Read 13 November 2013.

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Morning News Read 30 October 2013.

The entire world has an interest in the South China Sea, but China has nearly 1.4 billion mouths and a growing appetite for nationalism to feed, which is a kind of pressure that no other country can understand. What will happen will happen, whatever the letter of the Asean code of conduct or however the arbitration turns out. Loresto and Yanto, meanwhile, still abide on the Sierra Madre (a grounded ship used by the Philippines to make a claim on Ayungin, in the Spratly Islands), fishing for their subsistence and watching the surf to see what wave the Chinese will choose to ride in on.


‘You’ve got the wrong science-fiction movie,’ one former highly placed U.S. official later told me, when I described what we saw at Subi (Reef, claimed by the Chinese), and what it might mean for the guys on Ayungin. ‘It’s not the Death Star. It’s actually the Borg from ‘Star Trek’: ‘You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.’ ’ The scholar Huang Jing put it another, more organic way. ‘The Chinese expand like a forest, very slowly,’ he said. ‘But once they get there, they never leave.’

Excerpt from the New York Times feature, "A Game of Shark and Minnow"