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Listen to the voice

Report warns State on PRC aims

CAUTION: A draft report by the US Secretary of State¡¦s International Security Advisory Board says Taiwan will be the biggest threat to US-China relations in the near future

By Charles Snyder
Friday, Oct 03, 2008, Page 1

Gaining control of Taiwan is central to China¡¦s overall national strategic strategy, and the US must ensure that Beijing fails in this aim and honor its legal commitment to supply Taiwan with needed defensive weapons, a draft of a new State Department report said.

The internal draft of the report, by the Secretary of State¡¦s International Security Advisory Board (ISAB), was first revealed in a story in the Washington Times on Wednesday. The Taipei Times obtained a copy of the draft on the Washington Times Web site.

The 17-member board is composed of outside experts who provide independent advice to the secretary of state on all aspects of arms control, disarmament, international security and related issues.

It is headed by Paul Wolfowitz, former deputy secretary of defense and currently chairman of the US-Taiwan Business Council. Members are ¡§national security experts with scientific, military, diplomatic and political backgrounds,¡¨ the Web site says.

It is not known whether the final report will be made public when it is completed. In recent speeches, Wolfowitz has adopted a harder line on defending Taiwan than US government officials, including those in the State Department.

¡§While Taiwan may be seen by others as a regional issue, China views it in a global context, central to the legitimacy of the regime and key to power projects. While the United States may view the Taiwan question as status quo versus integration with China, Beijing views it as peaceful reunion or forcible conquest,¡¨ the draft said.

¡§The biggest threat to US-China relations in the short term (5 to 10 years) is probably Taiwan,¡¨ the 10-page draft said. ¡§Beijing will never give in on the issue of whether Taiwan is a province of China. Recognizing US policy to discourage both Beijing and Taiwan from taking provocative measures, the United States should make clear that it will meet all commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act [TRA] and will not accept Chinese use of force to establish territorial control in the region.¡¨

The TRA requires the US to supply Taiwan with sufficient defensive weapons to resist a Chinese military attack.

¡§In addition, the United States should deploy more robust sea and space-based capabilities to contribute to deterrence in a future crisis over Taiwan. Such capabilities will contribute to the continued credibility of the US security guarantee to Japan and other friends and allies in Asia,¡¨ the draft said.

¡§Most important, the United States must, in actions and words, demonstrate its revolve to remain militarily strong and its consistency to defend its interests and meet its security commitments to friends and allies in the region,¡¨ it said.

While the Pentagon, in its annual reports to Congress on China¡¦s military, has long warned that Taiwan is the primary and immediate target of China¡¦s rapid military modernization, the State Department draft significantly expands on that, identifying Beijing¡¦s Taiwan policy as intimately intertwined with China¡¦s broader sense of its own future place in the world and the Asia-Pacific region.

In this, US-China relations play a key role, said the draft, entitled China¡¦s Strategic Modernization: Report from the ISAB Task Force.

¡§The United States is viewed as China¡¦s principal strategic adversary and as a potential challenge to the regime¡¦s legitimacy, specifically with regard to Taiwan,¡¨ the draft said.

China¡¦s first aim in seeking to become a global power is to seek a ¡§breakout¡¨ from its ¡§century-long containment along the Pacific littoral, the draft said.

¡§In China¡¦s view, Taiwan is the key to breakout: if China is to become a global power, the first step must include control of the island. Achieving this objective would dramatically increase Beijing¡¦s ability to command the seas off its coast and to project power eastward. It also would deny the United States a key ally in a highly strategic location,¡¨ the draft said.


Listen to the voice

Skype texts are being monitored in China

Friday, Oct 03, 2008, Page 1

A group of Canadian human-rights activists and computer security researchers has discovered a huge surveillance system in China that monitors and archives certain Internet text conversations that include politically charged words.

The system tracks text messages sent by customers of Tom-Skype, a joint venture between a Chinese wireless operator and eBay, the Web auctioneer that owns Skype, an online phone and text messaging service.

The discovery draws more attention to the Chinese government¡¦s Internet monitoring and filtering efforts, which created controversy this summer during the Beijing Olympics.

Researchers in China have estimated that 30,000 or more ¡§Internet police¡¨ monitor online traffic, Web sites and blogs for political and other offending content in what is called the Golden Shield Project or the Great Firewall of China.

The activists, who are based at Citizen Lab, a research group that focuses on politics and the Internet at the University of Toronto, discovered the surveillance operation last month. They said a cluster of eight message-logging computers in China contained more than 1 million censored messages. They examined the text messages and reconstructed a list of restricted words.

The list includes words related to the religious group Falun Gong, Taiwan independence and the Chinese Communist Party, the researcher said. It includes not only words like democracy, but also earthquake and milk powder.

The list also serves as a filter to restrict text conversations. The encrypted list of words inside the Tom-Skype software blocks the transmission of those words and a copy of the message is sent to a server.

The Chinese servers retained personal information about the customers who sent the messages. They also recorded chat conversations between Tom-Skype users and Skype users outside China. The system recorded text messages and Skype caller identification, but did not record the content of Skype voice calls.

In just two months, the servers archived more than 166,000 censored messages from 44,000 users, said a report that was published on the Information Warfare Monitor Web site at the university.

The researchers were able to download and analyze copies of the surveillance data because the Chinese computers were improperly configured, leaving them accessible. The researchers said they did not know who was operating the surveillance system, but they said they suspected that it was a Chinese wireless firm, possibly with cooperation from Chinese police.

Independent executives from the instant-message industry say the discovery is an indication of a spiraling computer war that tracks new forms of communications technologies.

¡§I can see an arms race going on,¡¨ said Pat Peterson, vice president for technology at Cisco¡¦s Ironport group, which provides messaging security systems. ¡§China is one of the more wired places of the world and they are fighting a war with their populace.¡¨

The Chinese government is not alone in its Internet surveillance efforts. In 2005, the New York Times reported that the US National Security Agency was monitoring large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the US as part of an eavesdropping program intended to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity.

The researchers said their discovery contradicted a public statement made by Skype executives in 2006 after the content filtering of the Skype conversations was reported. At the time the company said that the conversations were protected and private.

The Citizen Lab researchers issued a report on Wednesday, which details an analysis of data on the servers.

¡§We were able to download millions of messages that identify users,¡¨ said Ronald Deibert, an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto. ¡§This is the worst nightmares of the conspiracy theorists around surveillance coming true. It¡¦s X-Files without the aliens.¡¨

Jennifer Caukin, an eBay spokeswoman, said, ¡§The security and privacy of our users is very important to Skype.¡¨

But the company spoke to the accessibility of the messages, not their monitoring.

¡§The security breach does not affect Skype¡¦s core technology or functionality,¡¨ she said. ¡§It exists within an administrative layer on Tom Online servers. We have expressed our concern to Tom Online about the security issue and they have informed us that a fix to the problem will be completed within 24 hours.¡¨

EBay had no comment on the monitoring.

The researchers stumbled upon the surveillance system when Nart Villeneuve, a senior research fellow at Citizen Lab, began using an analysis tool to monitor data that was generated by the Tom-Skype software. By observing the data generated by the program, he determined that each time he typed a particular swear word into the text messaging program an encrypted message was sent to an unidentified Internet address.


Listen to the voice

Four Taiwanese researchers bag Ig Nobel award

By Dan Bloom
Friday, Oct 03, 2008, Page 4

A research paper by four Taiwanese professors on the spermicidal power of Coke and Pepsi has won one of this year¡¦s 10 Ig Nobel awards, said Marc Abrahams in Boston, who heads the prize committee.

Hong Chuang-ye (¬x¶Ç©¨), one of the winners, is currently the president of Taipei Medical University in Taipei. He co-authored the seminal research paper, which appeared in 1987 in the Journal of Human Toxicology titled ¡§The Spermicidal Potency of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola.¡¨

Hong and his co-authors will be honored at the 18th annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University¡¦s Sanders Theater in Boston today.


¡§The Ig Nobel prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think,¡¨ Abrahams said.

¡§Taiwanese inventor Hsieh Kuo-cheng (Á°귩) of Taichung won an Ig Nobel prize last year for his ¡¥Net Trapping System to Catch a Bank Robber,¡¦¡¨ he said.

Neither Hong nor his co-authors will be able to attend the ceremony because of previous commitments, but Hong¡¦s daughter, Wan Hong (¬xÚ{¶v), who lives in the US, will accept the award on stage for the Taiwanese team.

The team will be sharing the Ig Nobel Prize with the US authors of an earlier New England Journal of Medicine paper that was cited in their study and which Hong¡¦s group disproved.

Why was the Taiwanese team¡¦s paper selected for an Ig Nobel this year?

¡§Because it makes people laugh, then it makes them think. And it will make them laugh and think, again, for the rest of their lives, every time they have a Coca-Cola or a Pepsi,¡¨ Abrahams said in an e-mail last week.

Hong said the team used a ¡§trans-membrane migration method¡¨ to study the effect of Coke on sperm in their research.

The citation for the Ig Nobel prize reads: ¡§To Sheree Umpierre, Joseph Hill, and Deborah Anderson (in the US) for discovering that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide, and to C.Y. Hong, C.C. Shieh (Á¯ù°Û), P. Wu (§d¯\ªâ) and Benjamin Chiang («¸¥²¹ç) (in Taiwan) for discovering that it is not.¡¨

In the published abstract of their 1987 paper, the team at the department of medicine at Veterans General Hospital in Taipei said: ¡§The inhibitory effect of Old Coke, caffeine-free New Coke, New Coke, Diet Coke and Pepsi-Cola on human sperm motility was studied with a trans-membrane migration method. None of them could decrease sperm motility to less than 70 percent of control within one hour.¡¨

¡§A previous study [published in the New England Journal of Medicine] which claimed a marked variation of spermicidal potencies among different formulations of Coca-Cola could not be confirmed,¡¨ the researchers wrote.

¡§Even if cola has a spermicidal effect, its potency is relatively weak compared with other well-known spermicidal agents,¡¨ they said.


¡§Testing of various cola formulas on sperm motility using a trans-membrane procedure did not decrease motility to less than 70 percent control in a one-hour period. Diet Coca-Cola had the strongest spermicidal effect followed by Classic Coca-Cola, Caffeine-free Coca-Cola and New Coca-Cola. Since there are no known substances in cola that affect cellular membranes, the results of these tests were not unusual,¡¨ the reserachers said.

¡§Other tests have been done using higher dilution of cola which could effect sperm motility and give different results for spermicidal potencies. The results show that cola has little if any spermicidal effect. Its use in postcoital douching is ineffective and could cause complications such as infection,¡¨ the paper concluded.




Listen to the voice

The UN is broken

Clearly, when a sovereign democracy like Taiwan is denied a voice among the nations that assemble as the ¡§United Nations¡¨ under the banner of peace, human rights and equal representation, the problem is not China, nor is it the other member states as a whole: It is the UN¡¦s mechanics and rules. The UN is broken.

What has happened to the UN? It has been strong-armed and overpowered by a single member that, out of spite, singles out a sovereign nation it has ¡§dibs¡¨ on, and uses its veto power to deny that nation its rightful membership in the world body.

Until the UN Charter is repaired and the ¡§loophole¡¨ closed that allows a single state among more than 100 members to control the UN like a puppet and lock an entire nation, culture and economic powerhouse like Taiwan out of its ¡§one China¡¨ private UN club, all complaints and requests to join will remain as useless as beating on a broken radio to get a signal.

No single country owns the UN.

This is the target Taiwan should focus on and should lobby for it to be repaired. Once this has been fixed, Taiwan can waltz right in.


Listen to the voice

US must send China a clear signal

By Gerrit Van Der Wees
Friday, Oct 03, 2008, Page 8

¡¥The Bush administration thus let itself be used by China to undermine democracy in Taiwan and put the future of the country in question.¡¦

The Russian attack against Georgia on Aug. 6 ¡X two days before the Beijing Olympics began ¡X has led to a number of commentaries drawing parallels between Georgia¡¦s relation with Russia and Taiwan¡¦s with China.

In one article, ¡§Events in Georgia bode ill for Taiwan,¡¨ published in The Weekly Standard on Aug. 25, Dan Blumenthal and Chris Griffin strongly criticize the administration of US President George W. Bush for its tepid response to Russia¡¦s invasion. They see in Washington¡¦s complicity in isolating Taiwan a temptation for China¡¦s aggression. They argue for a clear signal that the US will defend Taiwan from attack.

In the article ¡§From Georgia to Taiwan,¡¨ published in the Wall Street Journal on Sept. 16, Richard Bush and Jeff Bader blame the Bush administration for giving ¡§mixed signals¡¨ to Georgia, thereby encouraging Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to ¡§provoke¡¨ the Russian bear. On the other hand, they laud Bush¡¦s ¡§more tempered approach¡¨ to Taiwan, which led to ¡§a more nuanced American policy¡¨ that bolstered Ma Ying-jeou¡¦s (°¨­^¤E) election, and ¡§hopeful initiatives to stabilize cross-Strait relations in ways that hold out the prospect for improving Taiwan¡¦s economy, reducing the military threat from China, preserving Taiwan¡¦s democratic system of governance.¡¨

The two articles represent opposite sides of the US political spectrum: Blumenthal and Griffin are associated with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, while Bush and Bader are at the liberal Brookings Institution and are associated with the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

On the policy toward Georgia, we would actually disagree with both analyses: In our view, the Bush administration did a reasonably good job in its expressions of support for the newly democratic country. There may have been some tepid responses right before and after the invasion, but overall, the US did the right thing: Express clear support for Georgia, condemn the Russian invasion and get the NATO partners to form a united front in opposition to the Russian moves.

On the issue of US policy toward Taiwan, we would fully agree with Blumenthal and Griffin and strongly disagree with Bush and Bader: At least since the end of 2003, the policies of the Bush administration toward the democratic island have been abysmal. In 2001, Bush started out quite alright by declaring he would do ¡§whatever it takes¡¨ to help defend Taiwan from aggressive moves by China.

However, in December 2003 he somehow got weak knees and started to oppose Taiwan¡¦s evolution toward a full democracy. He opposed a referendum held in conjunction with the 2004 presidential election that expressed opposition to China¡¦s missile buildup. In an infamous TV opportunity, Bush, standing next to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (·Å®aÄ_), didn¡¦t say a word about China¡¦s missiles aimed at Taiwan, but lambasted President Chen Shui-bian (³¯¤ô«ó) for wanting to let the people of Taiwan express themselves on this issue. Isn¡¦t there something wrong with this picture?

The Bush administration compounded its mistakes last year and this year when it launched a veritable campaign against Taiwan¡¦s UN referendum ¡X which was held concurrent with the presidential election in March ¡X even with people like Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressing ¡§opposition¡¨ to the referendum.

What went wrong? For one thing, the US was preoccupied by Iraq and Afghanistan and let itself believe that it needed to accommodate China to resolve a number of other fires burning in the world: North Korea, Tibet, Burma, Iran, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

China was able to capitalize on the US¡¦ desire to put out these fires, but at the same time kept them burning in order to gain more concessions from the US.

The Bush administration thus let itself be used by China to undermine democracy in Taiwan and put the future of the country in question. What is needed from a new US administration ¡X whether it is led by Obama or his Republican rival John McCain ¡X is a clear signal by the US that it will help defend Taiwan in the case of a Chinese threat or attack. This is in the spirit of the Taiwan Relations Act and we should stick to it.

We also need to emphasize the right of Taiwan to be a full and equal member in the international community. Any talk about only support for participation in organizations ¡§that do not require statehood¡¨ undermines Taiwan¡¦s position and is not befitting the US ¡X a nation that portrays itself as the leader of the democratic world.

Both Taiwan and Georgia are examples of countries that have achieved democracy against great odds. If the US wants to expand democracy in the world, it needs to work harder to get these democracies into the mainstream of the international community. At the same time, it needs to convince the large ¡X and less-than-democratic ¡X neighbors that peace and stability can only be achieved if they let their small neighbors next door live and prosper in peace.

Gerrit van der Wees is editor of Taiwan Communique, a publication based in Washington.


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