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'Chinese' hackers targeted Congress to mute response

CONSTANT ATTACK: US lawmakers said that over the last two years their computers have been hacked by people working from inside China

Friday, Jun 13, 2008, Page 1

Two US congressmen, both longtime critics of Beijing’s record on human rights, said computers that had been allegedly hacked by people working from China contained information about political dissidents from around the world. One of the lawmakers said he had been discouraged from disclosing the computer attacks by other US officials.

Republican Representative Frank Wolf said four of his computers were compromised, beginning in 2006. Representative Chris Smith, a senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said two of his computers were attacked, in December 2006 and March last year.

Wolf said that after one of the attacks, a car with license plates belonging to Chinese officials went to the home of a dissident in Fairfax County, Virginia, outside Washington and the occupants photographed it.

During the same period of time, the House International Relations Committee, as the Foreign Affairs Committee was then known, was targeted at least once by someone working inside China, committee spokeswoman Lynne Weil said.

US authorities continued to investigate whether Chinese officials secretly copied the contents of a government laptop computer during a visit to China by Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and used the information to try to hack into Department of Commerce computers.

The US Department of Defense acknowledged last month at a closed House Intelligence Committee meeting that its vast computer network is scanned or attacked by outsiders more than 300 million times each day.

Wolf said the FBI had told him that computers of other House members and at least one House committee had been accessed by sources working from inside China. He suggested that Senate computers could have been attacked as well.

Wolf said the hacking of computers in his Capitol Hill office began in August 2006, that he had known about it for a long time and that he had been discouraged from disclosing it by people in the US government, whom he refused to identify.

“The problem has been that no one wants to talk about this issue,” he said. “Every time I’ve started to do something, I’ve been told ‘You can’t do this.’ A lot of people have made it very, very difficult.”

The FBI and the White House would not comment.

The Bush administration has been increasingly reluctant to discuss or acknowledge cyber attacks publicly, especially those traced to China.

In the Senate, the office of Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Humanitarian Affairs, asked Senate officials to investigate whether Senate computers had been compromised.

Wolf said the first computer hacked in his office belonged to the staff member who works on human rights cases, and that others included the machines of Wolf’s chief of staff and legislative director.

“They knew which ones to get,” said Dan Scandling, who is on leave of absence from his job as Wolf’s chief of staff.




A Nicobar pigeon, an endangered species, perches on a branch at the National Fonghuanggu Bird Park in Lugu Township, Nantou County, yesterday. The park is celebrating the bird’s birthday tomorrow.




China asks US to stop arming Taiwan

Friday, Jun 13, 2008, Page 3

'China firmly opposes the sale of US weapons to Taiwan and firmly opposes the military relations maintained between the United States and Taiwan."

— Qin Gang, Chinese ministry of foreign affairs spokesman

China urged the US yesterday to permanently end arm sales to Taiwan, after Taipei reportedly called on Washington to postpone deliveries as it engaged Beijing in bilateral talks.

“China firmly opposes the sale of US weapons to Taiwan and firmly opposes the military relations maintained between the United States and Taiwan,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang (秦剛) told journalists.

“The United States should not just suspend arms sales to Taiwan but stop arm sales permanently,” he said. “Not just partially stop arm sales but thoroughly stop them.”

Qin was responding to US media reports that senior US officials were holding up an US$11 billion arms package and a delivery of dozens of F-16 fighter jets for Taiwan, possibly until US President George W. Bush leaves office.

The Bush administration must give Congress formal notification for the approval of weapons sales to foreign governments, but the Washington Post cited unnamed sources as saying that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley have frozen the deal.

The paper said that no change in policy appeared to have been made, but the effort to send the notifications had been stalled by senior officials including Rice.

The paper said Taiwan had privately urged that the notifications not be sent in the coming weeks as it completes talks with China on launching regular direct flights and expanding tourism.

Rice and other top officials also appeared loath to irritate Beijing amid negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program, it said.

On Wednesday, the Taipei Times quoted Defense News as saying that the US State Department had decided to freeze arms sales to Taiwan.



Sovereignty at stake in Beijing

Friday, Jun 13, 2008, Page 8

With talks between the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) under way, it is hard not to understand the concerns of those who have been calling for Taiwan’s sovereignty to be protected.

This time the talks are being held in Beijing, a factor that is itself full of symbolism.

Not holding the talks on neutral ground, as happened in the past, gives China the chance to frame events as it desires. The venue for the talks, the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, is proof of this, as it is where the Chinese government houses visiting provincial government officials. Thus, Beijing can portray the talks as one of its provinces coming to pay tribute to the seat of power.

All the talk about “putting aside disputes over sovereignty” to create a “win-win” situation for both sides is a red herring because if Taiwan is willing to overlook sovereignty just once, then it is setting a precedent for future talks. The only winner if this happens will be Beijing.

If any attempt is going to be made to protect Taiwan’s sovereignty, then it needs to be done during this week’s talks. However, it remains to be seen whether SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) will follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) and lay down the law to the Chinese side.

A failure to do this will be a direct consequence of the string of rash promises made by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) ahead of the presidential election, all predicated on Beijing’s goodwill. Ma got elected with the reputation — however questionable — of being a “can do” politician, but he has had to make major concessions to try to live up to that image.

With rocketing oil and commodity prices delivering an inauspicious beginning to his presidency, he is afraid that failure to deliver flights and tourists by July 4 will deal a devastating blow to his credibility and popularity.

Another consequence of this week’s talks is that China fever is now in danger of developing into a full-scale epidemic, with county commissioners and city mayors now champing at the bit to cross the Strait and hobnob with their communist counterparts. Elected officials are lining up to ditch their titles to take part in economic activities and some are even willing to break the law to do so.

It is hard to believe that these are the same people who so fervently defended the Republic of China (ROC) from the localization moves of the Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) administration and have kicked up such a fuss over this week’s sinking of a Taiwanese fishing boat by the Japanese coast guard.

The government must put its foot down soon and allow the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) to exercise its authority if it is to prove wrong the doubters who said Lai Shin-yuan’s (賴幸媛) appointment was just a publicity stunt.

It cannot afford to order the MAC to cave in, as it did in the case of Kinmen County Commissioner Lee Chu-feng (李炷烽).

Only then can the Ma administration prove it is serious about upholding Taiwan’s sovereignty, something 68 percent of respondents supported in a Global Views magazine poll this week.

How can people trust a government that is prepared to stand up to Japan over the sovereignty of the Diaoyutais while at the same time cower to China?



Proceed with caution in PRC talks

By Paul Lin 林保華
Friday, Jun 13, 2008, Page 8

Talks were due to resume between Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) yesterday. In a certain sense, these talks will be an icebreaker. Although talks between both sides have been frozen for many years now and the current talks represent some progress, the Taiwanese delegation should still handle the negotiations very delicately.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) have both used an ice analogy, saying that “Ice cannot be melted too quickly, otherwise it could cause a flood.” Still, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has high hopes for improving cross-strait relations with the talks.

This round of talks will be conducted on a higher level than previous ones. The SEF was previously an association designed precisely to keep government officials out of cross-strait talks. However, high-ranking officials took part in past negotiations, with even the vice chairperson of the Mainland Affairs Council attending talks.

The problem with this is that if difficulties are encountered during talks where government officials are involved, it is harder for the officials to pull out and put an end to the talks. So, just why did those officials take part in the previous negotiations? Was it because the SEF was not prepared for the talks or because the government was worried?

Ma has said that unification cannot be discussed for as long as China refuses to change its official stance on the Tiananmen Square Massacre. However, with government officials now set to take part in the upcoming talks, we are in reality moving increasingly closer to unification talks.

In a speech by Ma earlier this month on the 19th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, he focused on Taiwan a lot less than in the past, which was extremely worrying.

On May 13, the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) reported on a research paper written by Chan Man-jung (詹滿容) of the National Security Council (NSC) in which she said that changes in Taiwan’s trade policies with China should be carried out according to WTO regulations and that haste be avoided in resuming talks with China.

This is exactly the stance that Taiwan should have had going into the new cross-strait talks. However, with Ma’s preference for “Chinese Taipei,” it seems that on the issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty things are about to take a turn for the worse. This is a sad state of affairs.

The way in which both sides tried to annihilate each other in past talks between the KMT and China should be avoided in this new round of talks. What is needed is an understanding of the opposition’s strategy. Li Kenong (李克農), referred to as the most important special agent in the history of the Communist Party of China (CCP) by Mao Zedong (毛澤東), successfully pulled off a counter-offensive plan against General Zhang Xueliang (張學良).

At the beginning of the 1950s, Li directed ceasefire talks when China intervened in the Korean War. After this, Li played a major role in other important negotiations between China and other nations. Li stated that there are seven main strategies in negotiation. The first strategy he defined was expounding one’s political principles to the enemy and making one’s stance clear.

“This is how we gain a political advantage over an opponent. This can be likened to artillery attacks before major warfare is waged,” Li said.

The second strategy Li expounded on was about the details of waging close-range combat. Li stated that this involves understanding the weaknesses and bottom line of one’s opponent.

The third strategy Li talked about was making full use of the inconsistencies of the enemy and grasping their weak points.

Viewed in light of these three strategies, Taiwan has already lost a lot of ground. Ma let China know about his bottom line and intentions far too early. Now, Ma must deliver on the promises he made about direct cross-strait charter flights between Taiwan and China and Chinese tourists coming to Taiwan.

As a result, Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) has backtracked on the promise he made to the US about both parties declaring their “one China” policies respectively. In order to deny and play down the success of the outgoing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration in cross-strait relations, Ma has sacrificed the cross-strait charter cargo flights established between China and Taiwan by the DPP.

This clearly demonstrates that the KMT is only concerned with its own welfare and not with Taiwan’s. In terms of inconsistencies, Taiwan not only has inconsistencies between pan-green and pan-blue camps; but also between the government, the KMT and even within the parties in the legislature. There are way too many inconsistencies in Taiwan that China can use to its benefit.

Taiwan experienced the negotiation tactics of the Chinese government back in the 1990s. The problem is with the new government, which has not had time to re-think and adjust its strategies.

Even if the new government is capable of dealing with China, they have not had the time to learn from the experience of our previous government. Such an unprepared government is indeed a rare one in today’s world.

Paul Lin is a political commentator based in Taiwan.


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