Canadian Chinese Embassy spokesperson Yang Yundong can’t pull the wool over my eyes.
“The Chinese government has always been firmly opposed to and combated cyber attacks in accordance with the law. In fact, China is a major victim of cyber attacks,” he said on July 29th.
Mr. Yundong released that statement in response to what Canadian intelligence discovered. That day, the National Research Council of Canada announced that their internal networks were attacked by an entity of the Chinese government. The attack was detected by the Communications Security Establishment, a Canadian intelligence agency.
I don’t doubt that “China is a major victim of cyber attacks,” Mr. Yundong. But if your country starts a war, expecting no retaliation from your target is incredibly naive. As far as being “in accordance with the law” is concerned, which law? Whose law? Canadian law? Chinese law? Canadian-Chinese trade agreements? United Nations policy?
Canada’s National Research Council conducts much of Canada’s most important technology research and development. The data on their servers is highly sensitive, and often highly classified, as well.
None of the Canadian government agencies affected by China’s attack will release details about what exactly happened. That’s completely understandable. Publicly releasing that sort of information could be risky to Canada’s security.
In response to the attack, NRC president John McDougall warned employees not to connect smartphones, USB sticks, or other such devices to NRC computers, as their personal data could be at risk. The NRC has temporarily disconnected from other Canadian government computer networks, and it may take a month or more for them to resume normal operation.
Chinese cyber attacks have also hit Canada’s southern neighbor, with ten times the population.
On or before December 15th, 2009, Symantec caught a massive coordinated attack they call Operation Aurora. America’s Silicon Valley was China’s target in that incident. Google and Adobe were among the victims, which means the millions of us who use their products and services were possible victims, as well.
In January 2010, Google acknowledged that the Chinese attackers stole intellectual property, and tried to break into the Gmail accounts of human rights activists. China used very sophisticated encryption to obfuscate the sources of their attack.
The Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive confirmed Chinese attacks to American servers containing sensitive and classified American military data in a report to US Congress in November 2011.
Operation Aurora and the most recent attack on Canada’s National Research Council are just a couple of a large number of confirmed Chinese cyber attacks in recent years.
The United States and Canada treat China like they’re a valuable trade partner, hence the existence of their formal relations. But why are we doing business with such a hostile country? Imagine if Britain considered Nazi Germany to be a valuable trade partner during the 1940s?
It’s tough for civilians to grasp that a war is going on when infantries, bombers, and nuclear missiles aren’t involved. Welcome to the 21st century, folks. Most warfare uses computers these days.
Our Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been accelerating Canada’s dependence on China.
On September 9th, 2012, Harper signed a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with China. If the law becomes fully ratified, China will be able to sue Canada if our laws to protect our environment, natural resources, and citizens interfere with their supposed “right” to make a profit from us. In a nutshell, if Canadian law gets in the way of Chinese moneymaking, they could litigate to change our laws. I’m referring to Canadian federal law, not to the laws of trade agreements or international law.
As of this writing in August 2014, FIPA still has yet to be ratified, and I hope it never is. Thousands of Canadians have sent letters and email to Canadian politicians demanding that FIPA is scrapped. But the primary cause of delay, and our main reason for hope is a lawsuit which is still pending.
The Hupacasath First Nation is a Native Canadian group based in our western-most province of British Columbia. On January 18th, 2013, the First Nation filed an application in court to stop FIPA dead in its tracks. Their territory is rich in natural resources, and the Canadian government has treaties with First Nation reserves (the Canadian equivalent of a Native American reservation in the United States) which give them some rights to the nature in their property. FIPA ratification conflicts with those First Nation rights, including those pertaining to Hupacasath.
Hupacasath’s Brenda Sayers said, “We are deeply concerned about the Investor State Arbitration (ISA) clause in FIPA that will allow a foreign state owned corporation (namely China) to sue Canada for anything which (may) interfere with their ability to make profit, including First Nations rights and title. These claims can range into the billions depending on the project. Currently there are several proposed projects that FIPA may negatively impact First Nations who are in dispute with the government. The ISA provisions of the FIPPA will undermine First Nations’ rights to protect their lands and resources or make decisions that benefit or protect their people. As well, the ISA will prohibit provincial and municipal governments from protecting their citizens. Everyone’s constitutional rights will be at the mercy of corporate gain.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in a bind. He’s been advocating for a law that makes Canadian law and safety vulnerable to Chinese tampering and litigation. Meanwhile, Canadian intelligence has detected Chinese government cyber attacks to sensitive Canadian infrastructure, most recently on July 29th. Why is Harper sleeping with the enemy? In my opinion, Harper is actively engaging in treason.
Eight months before the announcement of the attack on Canada’s National Research Council, on October 28th, 2013, their senior officials visited China to “strengthen science and technology relations with China and to facilitate Canadian companies’ access to Chinese markets.” I hope the NRC regrets that trip now.
United States President Barack Obama has also been getting too cozy to China for my liking, especially considering how China has been continuing to cyber attack the United States.
In an interview with The Economist, published on August 2nd, he said, “It’s important for the United States and Europe to continue to welcome China as a full partner in these international norms. It’s important for us to recognize that there are going to be times where there are tensions and conflicts. But I think those are manageable.”
In my opinion, if President Obama truly believes what he said, then he’s naive.
But even though Obama is a Democrat, it was a notorious Republican, Richard Nixon, who opened Chinese-American trade relations in the first place. Chinese-American trade accelerated under Reagan, the first President Bush, Clinton, and the second President Bush. This isn’t a Democrat versus Republican matter, as I believe Presidents from both parties have put America at further risk.
At least one prominent American of Chinese decent shares my concern about the People’s Republic of China, lawyer and journalist Gordon G. Chang.
In an article for World Affairs, published on February 6th, 2013, he wrote: “Unfortunately, talking even more with China’s leaders is not going to convince them to stop their highly provocative cyber activities. Why not? This is not just a dollars-and-cents—or, more precisely, yuan-and-fen—decision to obtain valuable intellectual property for nothing. The hacking of the New York Times, for instance, suggests the Communist Party sees its cyber intrusions as an issue of first importance.”
I believe we must continue to harden our networks against Chinese cyberwarfare. But as far as I’m concerned, that alone isn’t sufficient. We must stop trade with China as well, absolutely and completely. If that sounds radical to you, ask yourself this: why is it sensible to depend on the Chinese government in any way?
The President on Dealing With China- The Economist
Canadian spy agency says Chinese hacked into NRC computers- Maclean’s
The National Research Council of Canada continues to build Canada-China collaborations- The National Research Council of Canada
Canada says China guilty of cyber attack on top research organization- Venture Beat
Cyber-Terrorism and China- United States Marine Corps, Lieutenant Commander Lonnie Pope
A Reassessment of Canada’s Interests in China and Options for Renewal of Canada’s China Policy- Canadian International Council, Charles Burton
How Should the US Respond to China’s Cyber Attacks?- World Affairs, Gordon G. Chang
Hacker group in China linked to big cyber attacks: Symantec- Reuters
Google Hack Attack Was Ultra Sophisticated, New Details Show- Wired
Canada-China (FIPA) In Depth- The Council of Canadians