China Ignoring The Obvious

As I think of China, it seems it was a short time ago when we had prominent politicians telling us that China was not our enemy.

Today, that statement seems to have been one of the most clueless utterances ever made. We know a different China today.

We know a China that has its Red Chinese Communist jackboots on the neck of Hong Kong, who murders its ethnic minorities, that runs re-education camps for dissidents before they even dissent, who steals a dozen atolls in the South China Sea and militarizes them, who lies about pandemic viruses they have let loose on the world, and who has cataloged their entire population in a brutal system that awards simple life benefits only to those who are helpful to and cooperative with the Communist regime whilst brutally punishing those who are not.

Jonathan Bartlett illustration for Foreign Policy

At the same time, we are on a sounder trade footing charging the Chinese billions in tariffs, beginning to repatriate strategic industries, and taking a more sober look at China in regard to their military footprint including Taiwan.

Interestingly, the Chinese are ordering, paying for, and receiving the largest agricultural orders in US-China history.

So, what’s the problem, Big Red Car?

Ahh, the problem, dear reader, is that we continue to be tricked in the digital space.

We continue to pretend China is not a thoroughly nasty piece of business with its evil intentions completely integrated into every aspect of their endeavors.

We are as naive about this as we are about the vulnerabilities created by having China be the factory floor for our pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

It is time to wake-the-fuck-up and start running the adult lane.

Please consider the following:

 1. A Chinese citizen name of Gao Zhigang was a user of a social media platform name of WeChat. You will recognize its utility — like WhatsApp or Facebook.

WeChat (0wned by TenCent) has more than 1,100,000,000 users though it resides behind the Great Firewall of China.

 2. Citizen Gao Zhigang sent to a friend who lived in the United States video clip of goings on that cast the Chinese regime in a bad light.

 3. Chinese domiciled Gao Zhigang sent a video referencing a pro-democracy campaign called “Act Together” to a gent named Geng Guanhun, a pro-democracy, human rights activist living in the United States.

 4. The Act Together pro-democracy campaign, led by a chap named Li Yiping who also lives overseas, called upon the Chinese people to take to the streets on 1 May.

You will recognize 1 May as being a date infamous for its significance to Communists world wide. This was a social justice campaign run through the digital world.

 5. China has a government entity called the Cyberspace Administration which monitors WeChat. One more time, the Chinese government monitors the behavior of its citizens on the Internet and, in particular, on social media.

If you think you are safe from the Cyberspace Administration because you live in the United States, but use WeChat — THINK AGAIN.

 6. Gao Zhigang was taken away, seized by Chinese authorities on Sept. 26, 2019 and initially held under administrative detention by police in his home district of Yingze in Shandong’s Taiyuan city, on suspicion of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble.”

 7. Gao Zhigang was initially held for 10 days of administrative detention and interrogated, an experience that was not pleasant.

 8. Gao Zhigang was transferred from administrative detention to criminal detention with the charge being “slander of the government and disruption of the public order.” He was held without action for ten months.

 9. Gao Zhigang was tried, found guilty of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” and sentenced to 10 months which was convenient for Gao Zhigang as he had already served 10 months.

The Chinese having held him for the full punishment released him for time served.

You may note that the charges in #9 are not the same as the charges in #8 but are the same as those in #6 — but that doesn’t really mean anything, right?

 10. Here is where it gets even more interesting.

When Gao Zhigang, now released, reviewed the evidence against him with the benefit of his new found leisure, he realized that the evidence was not screen shots from his own phone.

They were screen shots from Geng Guanhun’s phone which was in the United States for this entire time.

The Chinese had found a way to access Geng Guanhun’s phone in the United States from China.

Geng Guanhun, in the United States, said he hadn’t opened the attachment. He knew it would lead to trouble and he avoided it, but this did not prevent the Chinese from accessing his phone, taking screen shots, and using them as evidence against Gao Zhigang back in China.

Gao Zhigang had deleted his end of the WeChat conversation as soon as he sent the video. 

Uhh, Big Red Car, what exactly are you saying?

What I am saying is that WeChat had a back door, a means of entry that allowed the Cyberspace Administration to look at a cell phone owned by Geng Cuanhun in the United States without his knowledge or permission even when he did not open the attachment.

Whilst the Great Firewall of China seems to keep Chinese phones under surveillance in China, it does not prevent a bad actor — that would be the Chinese Communists — from accessing phones in the United States through the software itself.

In this instance, they used that access to jail one of their citizens for sending a video from China to the United States.

Is this a new beef, Big Red Car?

No, dear reader, is is not.

Let’s chat about Huawei for a second.

 1. A senior data engineer, Jin Chun, worked at Huawei’s Nanjing Research Institute.

 2. He reported that China requires all Chinese communications companies, all internet service providers, and all social media companies to actively monitor their organic traffic to identify users whose communications and behaviors are unwelcoming to the Chinese Communist regime.

 3. How does Jin Chun know that? That was his job.

 4. In order to be able to do this, these companies have had to install back doors and other forms of access they fail to disclose to customers, but do disclose to the Red Chinese Communists.

 5. This surveillance is built into the software, so if you take comfort that you are living in exile beyond the reach of the Chinese Communists — think again.

The University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs Citizen Lab published a study in May 2020 that warned that even persons who have lived their entire lives outside of China are “subject to pervasive content surveillance that was previously thought to be exclusively reserved for China-registered accounts.”

Their study is cleverly titled, “We Chat, They Watch.”

Bottom line it, Big Red Car

Fine, let’s do that.

 1. The Trump admin has conducted investigations into Ten Cent (owner of WeChat), ByteDance (owner of TikTok) and Huawei.

 2. In every instance, the US has found bad actors doing bad things — obtaining information and influencing Americans using those services.

 3. Worse, these companies are transferring this data — which under US law belongs to our citizens — to China, more specifically, the government, more specifically, the Chinese Communist Party, the Reds.

 4. Who is driving this? The Red Chinese Communists who run everything in China. The guys who are our mortal enemies.

When you read about this in the future, know that we have caught them. Know they admit it. Know we have to do something.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car, but I am nobody’s fool and I am not a Red Chinese Big Red Car.