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Geo-Strategic Trend - 2. page

Xiaomi Cellphones Found to Have Security Issues

Well-known Chinese news site Sohu (NASDAQ: SOHU) recently reported that, in July, the Baltic State of Lithuania allowed Taiwan to set up a “representative office” under the name “Taiwan,” leading to a sudden escalation of diplomatic tension between the two countries, Lithuania and China. Now the Ministry of National Defense of Lithuania released an investigation report, claiming that content censorship “features” have been found in mobile phones produced by some Chinese companies like Xiaomi. The Ministry even advised consumers to avoid buying Chinese mobile phones or to trash them if they currently own such equipment. The National Cyber Security Center of the Ministry of Defense of Lithuania indicated that Xiaomi’s flagship phones have built-in detection and censorship functions which can be turned on remotely. Xiaomi’s encrypted mobile phone usage data is transmitted to a server in Singapore. Similar loopholes have also been found on one Huawei model. According to Deutsche Welle Chinese Edition, the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) confirmed that, based on the Lithuania Report, it has launched an investigation into allegations of security vulnerabilities in Chinese mobile phones such as Xiaomi.

(1) Sohu, September 22, 2021
(2) DW Chinese, September 25, 2021

Kyodo News: 31 Japanese Universities Stepped Up Vetting of International Students to Prevent Technology Leaks

The Japanese government is tightening its control over sensitive technology leaks through international students. Universities in Japan will need to come up with measures to face the challenge. Kyoto News recently conducted a survey of 56 private or public universities that have either an affiliation with Chinese universities that have ties with the military or that have a large number of foreign students. Among them, 31 universities have implemented or are considering stricter identity checks on international students who are majoring in sensitive technology studies.

The results showed that only 24 universities would implement or consider implementing the vetting of students who signed an agreement not to take controlled technology out of Japan. Also, only a few universities disclosed whether they have received any foreign funding. All of these are indications that there is a lack of effective responses to the risk of technology leaks.

The Japanese government announced in June that it would strengthen export controls over sensitive technology and adopt a licensing program for universities that receive research funding from foreign governments or allow foreign students to access technologies.

Surveys show that more than half of the universities have or are considering increased identity checks on past academic qualifications, work resumes, and other areas of concern. Ten universities have asked their international students to answer whether they intend to join military-related organizations, and 14 universities now validate the details of financial support from foreign institutions.

The Japanese government is also urging the control of Japanese scholars to get them to take part in joint overseas research. According to the survey, less than 30 percent of the universities have a filing mechanism to report the joint research. There are currently 14 universities that have Confucius Institutes. One university said it was considering a restructure of its operations.

As of last May, the number of international students in Japan was about 280,000. China is the largest by nationality, accounting for more than 40 percent of the total.

Source: Kyodo News, September 7, 2021

Global Times: British Ambassador to China Should No Longer Visit the Great Hall of the People

Global Times recently published a commentary on the fact that the Speakers of both the Upper and Lower Houses of the British Parliament announced a prohibition against the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Zheng Zeguang. Zheng has been prohibited from entering the British Parliament Building. This was at the request of several congressmen who China has sanctioned. Forbidding envoys of other countries from entering the parliament is an extremely rare move. It shows brutality, impulsiveness, and rule-breaking. If this restriction is enforced and continues, then China should take reciprocal retaliation against the British mission in China, and, in the future, the British ambassador to China should not be allowed to enter the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. In fact, there are no major conflicts between China and Britain. Even the conflicts surrounding Hong Kong have just been magnified. China and Britain are so far apart. China can neither threaten Britain’s security nor have a real power competition against the UK. The ideological differences are actually the easiest to shelve between countries. Britain is the “certain pawn” of the United States’ strategy to contain China.

Source: Global Times, September 15, 2021

Four Incidents alerted Switzerland to Chinese Infiltration; Swiss Parliament Passed Bill: “Improving Relations with Taiwan”

On September 14th, the lower house of the Swiss Parliament passed the “Improving Relations with Taiwan” bill by an overwhelming majority. The bill will require the Swiss Federal Council to submit a report on how to deepen relations with Taiwan in the economic, trade, political, scientific and cultural fields.

Yan Minru, a Taiwanese writer who has lived in Switzerland for more than three decades, told Radio Free Asia that Taiwan’s success in combating COVID, coupled with four recent China-related incidents in Switzerland, alerted Switzerland to the infiltration from China and made them realize that they should start to support Taiwan.

Those four China-related incidents are described as follows:
1. During the Hong Kong protest, Zurich University of the Arts used an art exhibit to show support for Hong Kong protesters. The Chinese embassy pressured the university, telling them not to interfere with China’s internal affairs. The university insisted they had the right to freedom of speech and it would be unconstitutional if they gave in and cancelled the exhibition. Their position was well received by the media.

2. Gerber, a Ph.D. student at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, criticized China on twitter. His professor and adviser then received threats from some Chinese students. The university asked Gerber to find another adviser. Since Gerber studied China’s environmental pollution which is a sensitive subject, Gerber was unable to find a new adviser. He had to drop out of school and wasted three years of research work.

3. About two years ago, for about a year, the Swiss German-language weekly Le Monde published articles written by a former Chinese ambassador to Switzerland on a monthly basis. The articles were full of propaganda. New Zurich Daily later exposed that the articles were published through the process of trade involving a paid advertisement with the Chinese embassy.

4. A large number of Chinese were smuggled into Switzerland. The Swiss government allowed several Chinese officials to come to Switzerland to verify the status of the refugees. The process lasted for two weeks. The Swiss government even paid for the Chinese officials’ airfare, hotel accommodations, health insurance, and gave them a US$217 daily allowance. They even let these officials use the Swiss office facilities. It caused strong public opposition.

Source: Radio Free Asia, September 15, 2021

Former Scientist at Canada’s National Laboratory Collaborated with PLA Major General

According to the Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail, a former scientist at Canada’s National Laboratory had a close, cooperative research relationship with a Chinese PLA Major General who was praised in China for developing a COVID 19 vaccine.

While working at the Winnipeg National Laboratory in Canada, Qiu Xiangguo collaborated with Chinese PLA general Chen Wei while doing Ebola virus research. Both of them published papers on their research results in 2016 and 2020. However, there was no mention in the research process or in the paper’s publication that Chen is a military major general and a virologist. She was described as a Ph.D. from the Beijing Biotechnology Research Institute.

Three Canadian scientists involved in the study said they did not know Chen’s true identity and that Qiu did not disclose her cooperation with the Chinese scientists either.

It was later confirmed that Chen is a major general in the People’s Liberation Army and a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Xi Jinping praised Chen’s team for developing China’s COVID vaccine.

The first to discover the relationship between Chen and Qiu was Canadian writer Elaine Dewar, who was conducting an investigation into the origin of COVID 19. She found a close relationship between the National Laboratory in Winnipeg and the Wuhan Laboratory in China. She then documented the relationship in her recent book, “On the Origin of the Deadliest Pandemic in 100 Years: An investigation.”

Qiu Xiangguo and her scientist husband, Cheng Keding, were expelled from the Winnipeg National Laboratory in July 2019. They were fired in January 2020, but Ottawa would not comment on the reason.

1. Radio Free Asia, September 17, 2021
2. The Globe and Mail, September 16, 2021

Indian Scholar on China’s Promised Aid to Afghanistan

Not long ago, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced that China has decided to provide Afghanistan 200 million yuan (US$31 million) worth of food, winter supplies, vaccines and medicine. China also promised, when security and other conditions are in place, to help build projects there to improve people’s livelihood and to support Afghanistan’s peaceful reconstruction and economic development.

Nandan Unnikrishnan, an Indian political scientist and honorary member of the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, India, said, “People just forget that in 1996 and 2001, respectively, China and the Taliban (a group banned in Russia) reached an agreement on the exploitation of mineral resources. So, this is not the first time for China.”

During the period of the Taliban’s rule from 1996 till 2001, China and the Taliban had some low level economic and technical cooperation. Some accounts suggest that after the US’ cruise missile attack on Afghani militant bases, Beijing reached out to the Taliban to offer Chinese support in the form of access to a missile computer guidance system. As the Taliban strengthened its hold over the country, Beijing signed a military pact in 1998 to train Afghan (and therefore Taliban) pilots. Then in 1999 they signed an economic cooperation agreement.

Source: Sputnik News, September 12, 2021
Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA), September 03, 2021

Xinhua: Wang Yi Attended the First Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan’s Neighbors

Xinhua recently reported that, on September 8, Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi attended the first meeting of Afghanistan’s neighboring foreign ministers. Wang said Afghanistan today stands at the crossroads of history. China, as a neighbor, should seize the critical time window of the transition and exert a positive influence on the changes in the situation. China agreed to institutionalize the Afghan Neighboring Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. The first meeting was chaired by the foreign minister of Pakistan. The foreign ministers or deputies of Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan also attended the meeting. Right before the meeting, Dai Bing, Chargé d’affaires of the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations, said at the UN Security Council that the evolution of the Afghanistan issue shows that foreign military intervention will eventually end in failure. The hastily and disorderly withdrawal of a certain country’s troops from Afghanistan has caused Kabul to fall into chaos and turmoil, leading to a major humanitarian disaster.

Source: Xinhua, September 8, 2021

The Taliban Asked the U.S. to Release Afghanistan’s Frozen $10 Billion

Well-known Chinese news site Sohu (NASDAQ: SOHU) recently reported that the Afghan media quoted the Acting Minister of the Interior of the Taliban Provisional Government, Haqqani, as saying that the Taliban asked the United States to release Afghanistan’s frozen US$10 billion. Earlier, some news sources reported that the United States had frozen nearly $10 billion in reserve assets in the U.S. bank account of the Central Bank of Afghanistan. In addition, the Taliban also called on the United States to continue to supply Afghanistan with billions of dollars previously promised in aid. In the meantime, the Taliban asked the United States and the United Nations to remove the names of Taliban leaders from the sanctions list. The currently known assets of the Central Bank of Afghanistan include foreign exchange cash reserves, which are largely in U.S. dollars. The amount is around US$362 million. Afghanistan’s gold reserves are valued at about US$1.3 billion. Most of the reserves are stored in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The Afghanistan government has other investments worth US$6.1 billion, which are mostly in U.S. long-term Treasury bonds and short-term Treasury bonds.

Source: Sohu, September 9, 2021