In an unprecedented move, a group of democratic nations led by the US, UK and EU in a joint statement on Tuesday accused the Chinese Ministry of State Security of having carried out a major cyberattack earlier this year and stealing data from at least 30,000 organizations worldwide, including governments, universities and firms in key industries. Western officials were reportedly perplexed by the attack’s brazen execution and unparalleled scale.
In an article on the attack, BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera wrote: “Western spies are still struggling to understand why Chinese behavior has changed.”
The attack raises the fear “that they [China] no longer care about being caught,” he wrote.
To fully understand China’s behavior, Beijing’s relationship with the outside world and how it has radically changed in the past few years must be appreciated.
While China was building its industrial base by skimming off Western information and expertise, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was careful to remain deferential; it needed to keep the West on its side to guarantee that foreign capital would continue to oil its investment-led economy.
The 2008 financial crisis marked a turning point. CCP leaders and Chinese intellectuals interpreted the event as proof of the inherent superiority of authoritarian, state-led capitalism, or what the party calls the “Chinese model.”
In the decade since, a paradigm shift has occurred in Beijing. China went from strength to strength, becoming the world’s second-largest economy and building a blue water navy that, on paper at least, rivals that of its archenemy, the US. Meanwhile, the West appeared to be floundering from one political and financial crisis to the next. The CCP became convinced that the West is in decline; it smelled weakness and licked its chops at the tantalizing possibilities that seemed to arise from the US’ retreat from its central role in the world.
In the minds of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and his coterie of shadowy advisers, the tables have turned and the West now needs China, not the other way around. Drowning in its own hubris, Beijing no longer cares if its covert actions are unmasked, because it believes that it can act with impunity — just as, in its view, Washington has been doing since the end of the Cold War.
If the US can sabotage a sovereign nation’s nuclear enrichment facility using a computer virus or conduct mass surveillance of Internet traffic without blushing, China believes it has every right to help itself to Western data. Xi, much like Russian President Vladimir Putin, believes the US — and by extension the West — is up to its neck in cant.
Nevertheless, to many in the outside world, Beijing is engaging in bizarre, self-destructive behavior evocative of its “wolf warrior” diplomats, who within just a few months dynamited decades of hard work to craft the image of a benign China.
China’s behavior appears schizophrenic because it is exactly that: Beijing’s worldview is colored by an exaggerated sense of victimhood and an innate sense of entitlement derived from China’s imperial past. The CCP defines itself as anti-imperialist, yet revels in China’s bygone imperial glory; it fetishizes colonial victimhood, yet stakes out territorial claims based on the frontiers of an empire established by Manchus.
Despite China’s radical political and social upheaval during the past century, remarkably little has changed. A feudal clique of party princelings has inherited the Middle Kingdom mentality of their dynastic predecessors.
First with its “wolf warrior” diplomats and now with a large-scale cyberattack, Beijing has shown that it is no longer content to play second fiddle. If China cannot be respected, it will settle for being feared.
For China observers, especially those in Taiwan, the past decade has brought awareness of an increasing obsession by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with control. It seeks to control not simply national policy, but all aspects of its citizens’ lives. Not a week passes without some new aspect of Chinese life being brought under CCP control. This forces obvious questions: Why this obsession? And what is driving it? When any one-party state, which already controls government, yet seeks to expand and tighten that control, it bodes ill. With a country the size of China, it bodes ill for Taiwan, Asia and the
Taiwan is now entering a period of maximum danger from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) due to an accelerating Chinese military challenge now emboldened by a shocking dive in American strategic credibility occasioned by its humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan. This means there is a much higher chance that in the next one to three years CCP leader Xi Jinping (習近平) may order the PLA to invade Taiwan because he believes the PLA can win and that the Americans can be dissuaded from coming to Taiwan’s aid in time. It is still possible for Taiwan and Washington
Another year, and another UN General Assembly is convening without Taiwan. Today marks the opening of the assembly’s 76th session at the UN headquarters in New York City, with the option to attend remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which once again promises to be its main focus under the theme “Building resilience through hope.” As they do every year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and overseas compatriot groups are organizing campaigns to call for Taiwan’s participation in the global body. However, unlike previous years, Taiwan seems to be riding a higher wave of support than usual. The pandemic has exposed countless shortcomings
In an op-ed on Friday, Chen Hung-hui (陳宏煇), a former university military instructor, applauded the government’s efforts to reduce the “supply, demand and harm of cannabis.” (“Cannabis use booms on campuses,” Sept. 10, page 8). Chen recounted a story of a boy who partied with the “wrong crowd,” smoked cannabis and died. This story cannot be true, because cannabis is not deadly. Consuming too much can feel mighty unpleasant, but it will not kill a person. This fact is not only backed up by science and statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control, but is well-known in countries where cannabis