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Information/Technology

BBC Chinese: China Seems to Be Planning to Ban VPNs

BBC Chinese recently reported, based on a number of media sources, that the Chinese government appears to have become much stricter on domestic Internet access control. The three primary Chinese communications companies have been ordered that, by February 2018, they must ban Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) on their Internet networks. VPN refers to the technology to form an encrypted secure channel to go across the public Internet. This is the primary technology for Chinese netizens to access the free Internet outside of China’s “Great Firewall.” It has been estimated that over 30 percent of the 700 million Chinese Internet users depend on VPN technology to break the government’s firewall to visit banned websites such as Facebook and Twitter. It is technically challenging to fully ban VPN usage. At the same time, it may also impact the international companies that use VPN technology for their secure connections to their headquarters’ networks for legitimate business purposes. The VPN ban will further limit Chinese scientists, researchers, and scholars from their day-to-day research work and their communications with foreigners in the same field. Experts expressed their belief that this recent VPN ban demonstrates the Chinese government’s desperation in its attempt to obtain tight Internet control.

Source: BBC Chinese, July 12, 2017
http://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/simp/press-review-40580679

Zhejiang Police Use Fake Communication Tower to Gather Mobile User Information

Radio Free Asia reported that the police from Zhejiang Province were found to have set up a fake mobile communication tower to gather mobile user’s information. The fake tower used a high power wireless signal transmission to force mobile devices such as mobile phones to register with it. This allowed the police to obtain mobile user’s information.

A former railroad policeman from Changsha, Hunan Province, commented that the police have long been using communication equipment to gather people’s information. The difference this time is that the police are doing it themselves, instead of going through telecom companies.

Another commentator indicated that it is a nationwide practice for the regime to use similar equipment to gather, monitor, analyze, and extract “useful” information from the general public.

Source: Radio Free Asia, July 2, 2017
http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/control-07022017100526.html

China’s Aerospace Industry Faces Serious Problems

On July 2, 2017, China’s second Long March 5 rocket, carrying an experimental communications satellite, failed after it took off. This was the last test of the Long March 5 rocket before being used to launch the Chang’e 5 Lunar Probe later this year.

China had another satellite launch failure on June 19.

Sina republished an article analyzing the quality problem that China’s aerospace industry is facing:

“The young people especially (in the aerospace industry) … fight each other.  … They don’t feel any responsibility for their work and lack a rigorous attitude toward research. Their reports are full of mistakes. They don’t want to take on real work. They only prefer to direct others.”

“The quality of work has dropped dramatically. When similar experiments were done back in the 1980’s, they were reported clearly with thorough analyses. Now the reports have vaguely drawn conclusions and even the author is not sure if his test results are correct.”

“The whole society is like this.” “Good people are not rewarded and those who do nothing are not reprimanded, either.”

Sources:
1. Sina, July 2, 2017
http://news.sina.com.cn/c/nd/2017-07-02/doc-ifyhrxsk1562298.shtml
2. Sina, July 7, 2017
http://cj.sina.com.cn/article/detail/1444893750/310439

China News: Microsoft Released a Windows 10 Version Customized for the Chinese Government

China News recently reported that Microsoft just released a custom version of its flagship operating system Windows 10 specifically customized for the Chinese government. The Chinese version contains a modification to the general version that may collect information and send to other devices. The special edition addressed the concern the Chinese government has on network security. It requires that the operating system only store hardware and software configuration information to local storage providers rather than to services hosted outside of China. The special edition also removed some applications that the Chinese government classified as unnecessary, such as games like Solitaire. Microsoft said the custom system also has a special help feature jointly developed with China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, which is a state-owned high-tech company that develops technology serving both the military and civilian markets. Some international experts expressed their concern that the local storage of information can actually enable the Chinese government to inspect information collected with this version of Windows 10.

Source: China News, May 26, 2017
http://news.china.com/domestic/945/20170526/30577056.html

Business Daily: WannaCry Virus Disrupted PetroChina Gas Stations

On May 13 and May 14, Business Daily reported that a large number of PetroChina’s gas stations suffered major business disruptions due to the spread of the WannaCry virus. Over 20,000 gas stations in the PetroChina chain lost their Internet connection for more than 35 hours. Only 80 percent of the stations recovered after 35 hours. The impact of WannaCry spread across many provinces. Major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chongqing, Chengdu, Wuhan, Xiamen and Nanjing were affected. The stations could still pump gas. However, payment cards and Internet payment methods could not function. Basic cash transactions became the only settlement mechanism. After PetroChina identified the spreading trend within its network, the company proactively cut off the uplink connections of its stations in order to contain the damage. The biggest impact was actually one day ago (May 12) and a massive number of attacks of WannaCry “carpet bombed” many Chinese colleges and universities. PetroChina once had the highest market value in the world (surpassing ExxonMobil). Now it is in second place.

Source: Business Daily, May 15, 2017
http://www.nbd.com.cn/articles/2017-05-15/1105575.html

New Regulations Ban Non-State-Owned Organizations from Internet News Editorial Business

Well-known Chinese news site Sina recently reported that the State Internet Information Office just announced new Regulations for the Internet News Information Services. The new Regulations separated the Internet news editorial business from the Internet news operational business. Only state-owned organizations can conduct the editorial business. Non-stated-owned organizations can republish and redistribute authorized news on the Internet, with the condition that the sources, original captions, original authors and editors are carried over to the republished version. The republished sources of the Internet news must be traceable. The new regulations cover all websites, applications, forums, blogs, microblogs, public social media accounts, instant messaging and direct Internet broadcasting channels. All organizations providing internet news editorial services must first register with the government. These state-owned organizations are required to establish the position of Chief Editor, who will be held responsible for following the regulations.

Source: Sina, May 2, 2017
http://news.sina.com.cn/c/nd/2017-05-02/doc-ifyetstt4169079.shtml

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