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China’s Cyber Authority Demands Self-Discipline from All Social Media Platforms

The Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission and the Cyberspace Administration of China are two different names given to one single identity. The former is a department level body within the Chinese Communist Party system, a commission of the CCP’s Central Committee; the latter is a ministry level agency in the central government of China. Both names share the same abbreviation – CAC, which is China’s top authority regulating cyber affairs.

On November 14, the CAC met with a list of major Chinese social media — Baidu, Tencent, Sina, Toutiao, Sohu, NetEase, UC,, Phoenix, and Zhihu. The CAC instructed these platforms to examine their user accounts comprehensively and to take corrective measures so that their user accounts follow an industry wide uniform standard. CAC also required each platform to perform a “cleanup” of the self-media accounts immediately and never allow the disciplined accounts to be “reborn” under another user name or achieve a “reincarnation” on another platform.

The ongoing campaign against social media started on October 20 and has “dealt with” 9,800 some accounts. The official reports said that the main issues are: A) spreading politically harmful information, maliciously tampering with the history of the Party and the nation, disparaging heroes, and damaging the image of the country; B) creating rumors, spreading false information, using sensational article titles, profiting from the spread of rumors, using false information to attract attention, and disturbing the normal social order; C) willfully spreading vulgar and pornographic information, disrupting the social order and traditions, challenging the moral bottom line, damaging the healthy growth of the young people; using a large number of self-media accounts for malicious marketing, adopting black PR (influential netizens hired to use postings to support or attack some companies), extortion, infringing on the legitimate rights and interests of normal enterprises or individuals, challenging the bottom line of the law; D) willfully plagiarizing, attracting cyber fans by “washing articles” (make minor modifications of other’s original articles), fake web traffic, and disrupting the normal order of communication.

Most of the disciplined social media accounts are on Tencent’s WeChat and Sina’s Weibo platforms. CAC also stressed that “social media is by no means a lawless place.” “In the next step, CAC will work with other branches to strengthen inspection and supervision of the social media platforms. It will strictly investigate and punish the irresponsible and problematic companies, so that illegal social media accounts have nowhere to hide.”

CAC also issued the “Security Assessment Provisions for Internet Information Service with Public Opinion Attributes or Social Mobilization Capabilities,” which will be implemented on November 30. This regulation includes all of the following cyber services or functions into the category of being “with Public Opinion Attributes or Social Mobilization Capabilities” and scope of regulation: forums, blogs, microblogs, chat rooms, communication groups, public accounts, short videos, webcasts, information sharing, and small applications.

Source: Radio France International, November 16, 2018

A University in Guangxi Is Inspecting Every Student and Faculty Member’s Phone and PC

Guilin University of Electronic Technology (GUET), a university in China’s southwest Guangxi Province, recently took a rare action unseen in the past few decades. For half a month, GUET has been inspecting the illegal audio and video files on more than 40,000 students and faculty members’ phones, personal computers, and removable hard disks, with no stone unturned. The university acknowledged this operation and claimed that the instructions came from the higher level authorities. All the schools were simply following the orders.

On November 13, a Radio Free Asia reporter obtained the No. 77 document, which GUET had issued. The document stated that domestic and foreign hostile forces were spreading illegal audio and visual materials through the Internet and mobile phones. Therefore, the university arranged this operation to strike the spread of audio and video programs involving violence, terrorism, reactionary contents, and pornography.

The operation began on November 7 and will end on November 23; it will target all faculty members and students. The scope of devices includes mobile phones, computers, mobile hard drives, and USB flash drives. The requirement is to complete coverage without missing a single person. After the inspection, subordinate units and colleges must submit written summaries, which the main leader must sign and affix with the official seal, and then hand them over to the school’s security unit.

It is the first time in the past 20 years that a public notice has been issued to conduct a large-scale computer inspection.

A staff member of the school confirmed that it was indeed the case. The staff said that the instructions came from the upper level and each school would release its own method of implementation.

In addition, the police can monitor the audios and videos. If illegal files are found and are found to be serious, the police will handle them or the Domestic Security Protection Bureau, a branch of Ministry of Public Security dealing with dissidents and activists will do so.

GUET is a university under the joint jurisdiction of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology; the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense; and the Guangxi Provincial government. It is also tasked with training technical personnel for the military.

Source: Radio Free Asia, November 13, 2018

RFA: Silicon Valley Said No to Wuzhen

Radio Free Asia (RFA) recently reported that the Fifth World Internet Conference was held in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, starting on November 7. Other than the CEO of Qualcomm, a U.S. chip maker, who attended the Conference and delivered a speech, no high-ranking officers from Silicon Valley showed up. Apparently, this was due to the trade war between China and the U.S. In fact, many of these companies were very upset about China’s continuous dishonest behavior, such as stealing intellectual property from them. This is one of the main triggering causes of the trade war. Some experts expressed the belief that it’s ironic for China, a country that blocks billions of netizens from freely accessing international websites, to host the international Internet conference year after year. Bill Xia, the President of a U.S. internet freedom product (Freegate) company, commented in an RFA interview that China has been hiding behind the ridiculous excuse of “internet sovereignty” to hammer freedom of speech and to apply tight controls over its own citizens.

Source: RFA Chinese, November 8, 2018

Beijing’s Mouthpiece Charges “Crimes” of Social Media

China Central Television (CCTV), China’s official TV network, recently aired a program that listed “six major crimes” of social media. The official newspaper People’s Daily also published an article criticizing social media. They are indications that the authorities are ready to “clean up” social media. CCTV also mentioned that the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission (CCAC), the Chinese Communist Party’s policy and implementation arm of Internet regulations, will strengthen the supervision of social media.

The “six crimes” that CCTV listed include: being vulgar and pornographic, using sensational article titles, creating and spreading rumors, adopting black PR (influential netizens hired to use postings to support or attack some companies), paying for readership, and plagiarism.

The People’s Daily article also pointed out three problems of social media, including extortion, plagiarism, and a large volume of deception.

A CCAC official was quoted as saying, “In the next step, the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission will coordinate relevant authorities and work harder.  …  It will carry out special rectification activities of the social media, strictly punish the illegal accounts according to the law, resolutely curb the chaos in the media, maintain the normal order of the Internet communications, and create a clean, positive, healthy, and orderly cyberspace.”

Source: Radio France International, November 11, 2018

China’s Gait Recognition Software, a New Weapon for Surveillance?

A Chinese firm recently released a gait recognition machine which uses the way people walk to identify them. Police in some cities have already deployed this tool.

According to the Chinese newspaper, the Yangtse Evening Post, the system is named “Shui Di Shen Jian (水滴神鉴).” It uses the characteristics of the human gait as the object and conducts rapid searches for and identification of people in massive video clips through the gait recognition technology. It has the ability to achieve a retrieval speed six times faster than other methods. With this technology, it only takes 10 minutes to screen a one-hour video with an accuracy rate of 94 percent.

Associated Press reported on November 5 that the Chinese police have already used the system on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai. “‘Gait recognition’ is part of a push across China to develop artificial-intelligence and data-driven surveillance that is raising concern about how far the technology will go.”

The developer of the tool Watrix announced last month that it had raised 100 million yuan (US$14.5 million) to step up the development and sale of the technology. Chinese police have been using facial recognition technology to monitor people and arrest pedestrians who violate traffic rules. The Police in Xinjiang, who are using facial recognition to monitor Muslim communities, are said to be interested in acquiring gait recognition products.

Huang Yongzhen, the CEO of Watrix, said using biotech to maintain social stability and managing the society is an inevitable trend and a perfect business opportunity as well.

Gait recognition technology is not a new technology. Defense information agencies in Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States have been studying the technology for years. Japanese police has been experimenting with gait recognition technology since 2013, but they have not yet tried to commercialize this technology. China is charging ahead because of its emphasis on social control.

Source: Radio Free Asia, November 6, 2018

World Laureates Forum and “WLA Scientific Community”

According to China’s official newspaper China Daily, in November 2017, Roger Kornberg and six other Nobel laureates, including Michael Levitt and Ada Yonath, founded the World Laureates Association (WLA), also known as the Global Nobel Prize Scientists Association.  The association’s purpose is to “enhance innovative creativity and foster the development of future Nobel Prize winners” for the benefit of the world.

On October 29, the WLA hosted the World Laureates Forum at Dishui Lake in the Lingang Area of the Pudong New Area in Shanghai. The theme was “Science and technology for the common destiny of mankind.” Over 30 of the world’s top scientists, including 26 Nobel laureates, and winners of the Wolf Prize, the Lasker Award, the Turing Award, the MacArthur Fellows Program, and Chinese scientists attended the forum.

The forum focused on building Shanghai as a science and technology innovation center with global influence. The three-day event included topics such as photonic science, life sciences, innovative drug research, brain science, and artificial intelligence.

Around that time, the “WLA Scientific Community” was launched in Lingang.

According to Chinese media, the community aims to “break the imaginary boundaries of Silicon Valley and Optics Valley and create a ‘Science Valley.’” The “original inhabitants” of Science Valley are the world’s top scientists such as the winners of the Nobel Prize, the Wolf Prize, the Lasker Award, and the Turing Award. The community will be tailored to their diverse needs and for human being’s best brains to create a poetic dwelling for independent innovation.

On May 11, Roger Kornberg represented the WLA and signed a tripartite “Memorandum of Strategic Cooperation” with the Shanghai Lingang District Development and Construction Management Committee and the Shanghai Lingang Economic Development (Group) Co., Ltd. Kornberg stated, “We also hope to establish a number of open, cooperative and shared future technology communities in several Chinese cities such as Shanghai. The world’s top scientists, covering Nobel Prize scientists’ laboratories, studios, and international intellectual property services will lead them.

The “WLA Science Community” consists of three major platforms: the ideological platform, the laboratory platform, and the technology transformation platform. The ideological platform includes the scientific work area, an exchange center, and the release of scientists. It is the birthplace of original ideas. The laboratory platform includes the scientists’ incubator center and the scientists’ laboratory. It is a technology incubator to transform ideas into technology. The technology transformation platform covers a science community technology bank, and the science community fund. It will transform technology into applications.

Source: The Paper, October 29, 2018