Chinese Military Gets Trained on Electronic Warfare

Knowing the core strength of the U.S. military is in it’s advanced communication systems, it’s GPS and satellites, and it’s air and naval fleets that rely on these technologies, China’s military is pushing for electronic warfare systems that would disable or destroy them.

The Chinese military held a training on the electromagnetic spectrum from Oct. 11 to Oct. 12 in Chengdu, the capital of western China’s Sichuan Province. Attendees were shown China’s new “joint electromagnetic spectrum management system,” and they discussed how to establish “electromagnetic spectrum management troops,” according to the Chinese state-run newspaper People’s Daily.

U.S. Admiral Jonathan Greenert described the importance of the electromagnetic spectrum for the military, in an op-ed piece published in April on the defense website Breaking Defense.

“This environment is so fundamental to naval operations, and so critical to our national interests, that we must treat it on par with our traditional domains of land, sea, air, and space,” Greenert states. “In fact, future conflicts will not be won simply by using the EM spectrum and cyberspace, they will be won within the EM spectrum and cyberspace.”

Electronic Warfare

Electromagnetic spectrum includes all frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. It’s a broad spectrum of wavelength that goes from radio wave (used in radio communications), to microwave, terahertz radiation, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma rays (gamma radiation).

Chinese military doctrine describes the use of such technology for electronic warfare. Its uses range from jamming signals at lower spectrums, to high-power microwave weapons to disable an enemy’s missile systems, to using electromagnetic pulse (EMP) at the gamma ray level to fry electronics in large areas.

The technology is part of China’s “Assassin’s Mace” or “Trump Card” (Sha Shou Jian) weapons, described in a declassified report from the National Ground Intelligence Center. It states they are “modern weapons that would permit China to prevail over the United States in a conflict over a forced reunification of Taiwan.”

The nature of the weapons are intended to allow China to disable the communication and electronic systems that are the pillars of the U.S. military. The report states that China “may consider” using nuclear weapons detonated in high altitude, used for an EMP attack, “as a Trump Card or Assassin’s Mace weapon against the Taiwan electronic infrastructure” or against the U.S. Navy “should a conflict break out in the Taiwan strait.”

Electromagnetic Spectrum

Many military systems rely on the electromagnetic spectrum. A U.S. Army manual states “The use of the electromagnetic spectrum is essential to military operations at all levels of command,” yet it notes “In joint military operations, requirements may exceed the amount of spectrum available.”

Because of the limitations in the frequency, and the critical nature of the technology, electronic warfare is closely tied to electromagnetic spectrum management.

The Chinese training was held at the electromagnetic spectrum management center under the Chengdu Military Area Command (MAC). The headquarters of China’s various MACs and service branches sent close to 90 representatives from their information technology departments to join the training.

The Chinese military is broken into various MACs, which cover different regions of China. Each branch of the Chinese military works independently, yet they coordinate through “integrated joint warfare.” The Chinese approach is a less harmonious form of the “joint operations” employed by the U.S. military which has all branches working together, and is heavily reliant on advanced communication systems.

A discussion was also held on monitoring the interconnection of military-civilian networks, according to People’s Daily. Representatives shared their experiences monitoring the networks, and included people from the information technology departments from the headquarters of the Shenyang MAC, the Nanjing MAC, and the Second Artillery Force.

The Second Artillery Force, also called the Second Artillery Corps, operates China’s strategic nuclear weapons. Leaked documents showed in January 2011 that the Second Artillery Force has guidance to launch pre-emptive nuclear attacks against a nuclear armed country, if that country launches air strikes against one of China’s “key strategic targets.”

Read the story on Epoch Times

 

Image by Jonathan S Urie [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Gas Lines, Power Companies Targeted by Cyberattacks

One of the cyber doomsday scenarios often painted by security advocates is an attack on the U.S. energy grid. Mechanized farms would be frozen, communication and innovation gone, and the U.S. economy brought to a standstill. A coordinated cyberattack using existing technology could bring the country to its knees.

After surveying more than 100 energy companies in May, Representatives Edward Markey and Henry Waxman said more than a dozen of the companies reported “daily,” “constant,” or “frequent” attempts of people trying to hack their networks. One utility reported it faced close to 10,000 attacks each month.

During his 2013 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama warned of the growing threats in cyberspace, saying “Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, our air traffic control systems.”

The threat is what led Obama to sign an executive order in February on “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity,” which established information sharing programs and directed government resources towards securing critical systems necessary to keep the nation running. It states, “cyber threat to critical infrastructure continues to grow and represents one of the most serious national security challenges we must confront.”

Critical infrastructures include the financial sector, transit systems, the energy grid, and water purification facilities, among others. The White House executive order on cybersecurity classifies them as systems “so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.”

Sensitive Networks

“Risks to critical infrastructure are real,” said Tiffany Rad, a senior researcher at Kaspersky Lab, in an email interview.

She cited several examples, including a study by security company Trend Micro where researchers set up 12 fake systems meant to mimic remote control systems of American municipal water plants. They watched as the fake systems were hacked more than 70 times, and noted that China and Russia were the most aggressive. The study was taken as proof that state actors are actively trying to exploit security holes in critical systems.

“If those research results are combined with a DHS report in 2012, which listed a significant increase in attacks on the U.S. critical infrastructure, it suggests that this is a threat to be taken seriously,” Rad said.

The current state of cybersecurity for the energy grid, in particular, is two-pronged. On one side, the rate of attacks is growing and becoming more sophisticated. On the other side, security systems are at a level beyond the reach of the common hacker.

James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, dispelled some concern in a March 12 statement before the Senate. He said while there may be minor attacks, there is a “remote chance” of a major cyberattack on U.S. critical infrastructures over the next two years “that would result in long-term, wide-scale disruption of services, such as a regional power outage.”

He said, however, the level of skill required for such an attack is beyond that of almost anyone other than state actors. And countries with these capabilities, including Russia and China, “are unlikely to launch such a devastating attack against the United States outside of a military conflict or crisis that they believe threatens their vital interests.”

Read full story here.

 

Photo of  moving grate incinerator for municipal solid waste. By Steag, Germany (Steag, Germany) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

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NASA Holds Line Against Cooperation With China

An upcoming NASA conference on telescope technology has been declared off limits to Chinese nationals, as the space agency reaffirms U.S. policy of not cooperating with the People’s Republic China’s militarization of space.

The Nov. 4–8 conference on NASA’s Kepler space telescope program is considered the year’s premier event for academics specializing in the search for planets outside the solar system, and the agency’s stand has drawn controversy.

The Guardian, a U.K.-based newspaper, reported that several researchers are boycotting the conference, due to NASA’s policy on excluding Chinese nationals.

NASA is obeying U.S. law, the language for which was first inserted in the bill funding the agency in April 2011 by Congressman Frank Wolf, chairman of the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee. It prevents NASA and the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy from using federal funds for diplomacy with China.

“I think Wolf did the right thing, but the Chinese government will take advantage of the naiveté of American academics and play to their natural distaste for exclusionary actions,” said Greg Autry, author of Death by China, in an email interview.

“The irony of all this is that everything real in China is locked down hard from access by Americans—or by most Chinese for that matter,” he said. “Everything in China is about restricting the freedom of people to participate.”

The regulation was renewed in March, but ran into similar backlash in the past.

In May 2011, two Xinhua journalists were turned away from a space launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Xinhua, a state-run newspaper operated by the Chinese State Council, published an article afterward accusing Wolf of going against cooperation between the United States and China.

Also in 2011, the White House science office had its funding cut by 32 percent after it went against Congress and ignored the regulation.

Wolf defended his position during a testimony to the U.S.–China Commission in May 2011. He noted that China’s space programs are led by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and said “The U.S. has no business cooperating with the PLA to help develop its space program.”

Concern over China’s intentions for space technology were sparked by a January 2007 incident when, without warning, it destroyed one of its own satellites with a ground-based anti-satellite weapon and sent an estimated 2,500 pieces of debris spinning in orbit.

A State Department cable leaked by WikiLeaks details the U.S. response to the incident, including attempts to speak with China. It states that China gave “no sensible answer” to any nation regarding the weapons test.

It then states that the United States halted cooperation with China on space programs, noting, “One of the primary reasons for this position is the continued lack of transparency from China regarding the full range of China’s space activities.”

China has developed and tested several other anti-satellite weapons since then. The most recent, reported on Oct. 2 by The Washington Free Beacon, was in late September, when China tested a new covert anti-satellite weapon using three satellites fitted with mechanical arms to capture other satellites.

“PLA strategists regard the ability to utilize space and deny adversaries access to space as central to enabling modern, informatized warfare,” states the Pentagon’s 2013 review of China’s military developments.

The report notes, “Publicly, China attempts to dispel any skepticism over its military intentions for space,” yet internal doctrine speaks otherwise. It quotes a PLA analyst saying “space is the commanding point for the information battlefield,” and that “destroying or capturing satellites and other sensors … will deprive an opponent of initiative on the battlefield and [make it difficult] for them to bring their precision guided weapons into full play.”

It also quotes PLA writings, that “emphasize the necessity of ‘destroying, damaging, and interfering with the enemy’s reconnaissance … and communications satellites.’”

Autry said, “Most Westerners who are involved in Space research have a view of an open and peaceful future for all of humankind in space, led by brave and wise people–a la ‘Star Trek.’”

“Who in the world really wants to see mankind’s legacy in the universe represented by a brutal totalitarian regime?” he said. “We should welcome China to space when it has a civilized government worthy of representing human beings. Right now it does not.”

Read the story on Epoch Times.

China’s Cyberattacks Reveal Its Military Interests

China is often criticized for the opaque nature of its military interests. China’s unclear motives impact everything from its territorial disputes with surrounding nations, to regulations forbidding NASA to work with Chinese nationals due to China’s silent push for space warfare technology.

Chinese military doctrine only feeds concerns. It speaks of pre-emptive strikes, hiding a military’s true capabilities, and using means to fight wars without engaging in conventional battles.

An infamous 1999 Chinese military book from two senior colonels titled “Unrestricted Warfare,” states, “As we see it, a single man-made stock-market crash, a single computer virus invasion, or a single rumor or scandal that results in a fluctuation in the enemy country’s exchange rates or exposes the leaders of an enemy country on the Internet, all can be included in the ranks of new-concept weapons.”

But the world is changing. From businesses to governments, cybersecurity is now at the front line of security, and sophisticated cyberattacks are being traced back to China on an almost weekly basis.

With this shift, the shroud of secrecy that drew China’s interest to cyberwar is gradually being pulled aside.

National Fingerprints

“All this conflict we hear about in cyberspace, and everything else, is just a reflection of what was happening in the world we knew before the Internet,” said Dr. Kenneth Geers and author of “Strategic Cyber Security.”

Geers has a unique occupation. When advanced and ongoing cyberattacks are discovered, he checks the fingerprints and tries to find the culprit.

The attacks being used by state-sponsored hackers aren’t going to say “code written in China,” said Geers. “But we can look at international negotiations or events at the border, or a leadership summit, and we might very well be able to tie it back to a certain country.”

“Context gives you the likely candidate,” he said.

Read the full story here.

In New Drug War, Regulators Face ‘Hydra-headed’ Threat

In May 2012 Florida police found a man crouched low over a homeless man, eating the flesh from his face. The man was believed to be high on a synthetic drug called “bath salts,” which at the time could be purchased at local gas stations.

The incident began a crucial discussion among lawmakers about the rise of new drugs. Not long after, President Barack Obama signed a law to ban bath salts, a form of synthetic cocaine, and several key chemicals used to create synthetic marijuana. Yet, after public uproar about the “zombie drug” died down, the drugs did not.

“When Congress outlawed several of these synthetic drugs last year, traffickers did not stop producing them,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein during a Senate hearing on Sept. 25. “Instead, they slightly altered the chemical structure of illegal drugs to skirt the law.”

Synthetic drugs bring the drug war into the artificial age.

Chemists model the molecular structures of synthetic drugs after those of natural drugs, or other well-known substances like LSD or ecstasy. When regulators try clamping down, the chemists simply alter the chemical structures, which creates an ongoing flow of new and legal drugs with unknown effects.

Any thorough regulation on synthetic drugs will need to be broad and able to constantly adapt.

The question of how to regulate the new drugs was on the table during the recent hearing of United States Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, of which Feinstein is chairman.

Feinstein introduced a bill in July, the Protecting Our Youth from Dangerous Synthetic Drugs Act of 2013, which may just have an answer.

The bill would update the Controlled Substance Act to include substances that have similar chemical structures and effects to illegal drugs. It would create a Controlled Substance Analogue Committee that would be able to keep up with regulating new synthetic drugs.

New Zealand is trying another approach. A law enacted in July will allow synthetic drugs to be sold legally if they pass rigorous safety tests. Regulations would focus on, for instance, not driving under the influence. The U.K. and Australia are watching the initiative with interest.

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China Expands Space Warfare Capabilities

New arenas of warfare are opening up. The U.S. military is already heavily reliant on satellites and communication systems, and countries like China are actively trying to undermine these systems.

“There’s not an operation conducted anywhere at any level that is not somehow dependent on space and cyberspace,” said General William L. Shelton, Commander of the Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, on Sept. 21, according to the Department of Defense.

Yet amid the proliferation of space and cyberspace in the military, the next challenge is to get all troops linked in and secure those connections.

Shelton said the United States is facing four key threats: jamming, lasers, attacks on ground sites, and nuclear detonations in space.

He said the dangers these technologies pose to the U.S. military need to be recognized, noting “We can’t continue, in my mind, to operate with this big-sky mentality.”

The four key threats he mentioned are also four key capabilities the Chinese regime is developing.

Documents released through WikiLeaks show strong tensions between the United States and China over weaponry for space warfare.

On Jan. 11, 2007, China destroyed one of its own satellites using a ground-based anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon. A WikiLeaks document of State Department cables says the test was done without warning and China gave “no sensible answer” to any nation that approached it afterward.

The test also filled a lower orbit with an estimated 2,500 pieces of dangerous debris. The WikiLeaks document says the United States told China clearly that “The United States reserves the right, consistent with the UN Charter and international law, to defend and protect its space systems with a wide range of options, from diplomatic to military.”

The test raised concerns that China is developing space warfare systems despite claiming otherwise. The cable states that the U.S. stopped space-relation cooperation with China, and “One of the primary reasons for this position is the continued lack of transparency from China regarding the full range of China’s space activities.”

Countries have been forced to track and avoid the debris with satellites and other space equipment. In May this year, debris from China’s 2007 test struck and destroyed a Russian satellite.

A State Department cable states that on Jan. 11, 2010, China launched a missile that intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile launched at almost the same time from the Shuangchengzi Space and Missile Center.

The cable stated the missile used was the same type China used during its 2007 ASAT test, and “This test is assessed to have furthered both Chinese ASAT and ballistic missile defense (BMD) technologies.”

While China makes as much noise as possible around its development of a fifth-generation fighter jet and its Navy, it is silent about space warfare and has even tried covering up tests.

In May, when China launched a new Dong Ning-2 anti-satellite missile, it tried telling the public it was the Chinese Academy of Scienes experimenting with a sounding rocket, according to military news websiteAlert5.

China’s development of weapons targeted at space and cyber are part of its anti-access strategy, which was outlined by Roger Cliff of the RANDCorporation, during a January 2011 testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Cliff said the strategy aims to disable a technologically superior military by striking the critical systems that enable the technology. He said, “This concept is based on the idea that, rather than attempting to destroy an adversary’s entire military force, the PLA should try to paralyze the adversary by attacking critical nodes in its system of systems.”

China classifies its space and cyber weapons under its shadowy “Assassin’s Mace” or “Trump Card” (Sha Shou Jian) weapons, according to a declassified but heavily redacted report, “China: Medical Research on Bio-Effects of Electromagnetic Pulse and High-Power Microwave Radiation.”

It states the weapons were designed to “Permit China to prevail over the United States in a conflict over a forced reunification with Taiwan.” They include, among other systems, detonating nuclear weapons in high altitude to fry electronics with an electromagnetic pulse.

During the February 2012 annual threat assessment, Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess, director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, warned of China’s growing focus on space warfare.

Burgess said China’s public space programs support its ability to harm space systems of other nations and feed China’s military capabilities. He said, “Beijing rarely acknowledges direct military applications of its space program and refers to nearly all satellite launches as scientific or civil in nature.”

He said in addition to anti-satellite missiles, China is also “developing jammers and directed-energy weapons for ASAT missions.”

Despite China’s claims to a $93 billion military budget, the United States believes the true budget is as much as $183 billion, Burgess said.

Read the story on Epoch Times.

Cyberattacks Hide Chinese Spies Inside US Companies

Up to $400 billion in U.S. industrial secrets is stolen each year, damaging the prospects of companies and sapping the strength of the American economy, according to the Office of the National Intelligence Executive. Yet, while company CEOs seeking to stop the theft often blame cyberattacks from China, the hacking may actually be covering the tracks of someone on the company’s, and China’s, payroll.

Instead of the data being stolen by an anonymous hacker on the other side of the world, a trusted member of the company’s engineering or technology teams may download the information and carry it out in a CD or flash drive, take physical copies, or simply infect the company’s computers so a hacker will have access.

The insider working for the Chinese regime may steal with a certain confidence, knowing a cyberattack will be timed to look as though it were responsible for stealing the data—this is standard modus operandi in Chinese espionage.

The issue is well known in the intelligence community, according to Jarrett Kolthoff, president of cyber counterintelligence company SpearTip and a former special agent in U.S. Army counterintelligence.

“You run into this quite a bit,” Kolthoff said, noting that Chinese espionage usually aims to steal all information possible. “For them it comes down to quantity first, quality second. Then they can always do the analysis later on to see how everything patches together.”

China’s use of spies often comes down to basic effectiveness. Kolthoff said they look for the easiest road to get their target.

“They then determine that it’s much easier to obtain the information through a rogue insider, or a trusted insider who is working for someone else,” Kolthoff said. “At the same time, they combine that with cyber.”

Once the spy is in, the hackers on the outside work to ensure the spy stays hidden. He said they’ll “use other means as a ruse to make it show that the information was collected through maybe zero-day malware, or through some other means or methodology, so that the bad insider is never identified and that insider can continue to collect.”

“It’s very, very effective,” he said.

Gang Liu, a former vice president at Morgan Stanley, and a former leader of China’s Tiananmen Square student movement, said he encountered the issue of Chinese spies working with Chinese hackers first-hand.

He said the concept is simple. If you want to get away with stealing something, “just put someone else’s fingerprints on it, and they’ll chase someone else.”

“The Chinese government is already doing this. They use Chinese spies to steal all the useful data, but once they want to use it they just use their computer hackers to hack it,” he said. “Then when they investigate it, they think it was just from hackers and they stop there.”

Gang Liu said the general tactic has a long history, and even appears in various Chinese stories and films. In a war, for example, a spy may set off an explosion and Chinese forces would cover the tracks by firing artillery at the general area.

When spying went digital, they replaced the artillery with hackers.

A key difference between Chinese espionage and spying done by most other countries in the world is the intent of intellectual property theft.

Representative Billy Long said during a June 2012 congressional hearingthat “China and Russia have official government policies of stealing U.S. assets for economic gain.”

Long said, “the true size of this threat could be massively undervalued because this activity often goes unreported to law enforcement.”

Dana Tamir, director of enterprise security at Trusteer, an IBM company in cybercrime prevention, said the insider threat is a large problem that is too often overlooked by businesses when addressing economic espionage.

“I think a lot of organizations trust their employees, and they don’t recognize the insider threat,” Tamir said.

The lack of focus on insiders also makes it appealing as an approach for espionage. She said the thinking in economic espionage is, “If you know an organization is not looking at this threat, why not utilize it?”

Despite the broad access that can be gained by hackers, insiders still have a lot more at their fingertips and can also infect networks more easily and more effectively.

Hackers need to worry about various security layers and attention from a company’s security experts. Tamir said with insiders, however, “You may even be able to compromise a legitimate user account and use that account to actually log onto all kinds of corporate systems.”

Also, according to both Tamir and Kolthoff, catching insiders is not an easy job.

Kolthoff said when it reaches the extent of China’s cyberattacks and insiders, “there is no one way to completely stop them.”

He said like the attacks, the solution needs to be adaptive and ongoing. Systems need to be in place to monitor for threats and collect evidence of their activities, and more fundamentally, companies need to extend their security beyond cyber to include the human element—the insider threat.

Read the story on Epoch Times.

As Control of Internet Shifts Abroad, Security in Doubt

The U.S. hold on the Internet is slipping, as core systems for managing the Internet begin opening to foreign influence.

A working group of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has proposed placing a wall in front of information about who owns each Web domain. The move is being criticized for giving too much power to one group.

ICANN is a nonprofit organization that preserves the stability of the Internet. It takes care of several core elements including maintaining the integrity of WHOIS information, overseeing Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, and managing top-level domain space. ICANN assumed these responsibilities from the U.S. government in 1998.

John Horton, president of LegitScript, told CSOonline that what the working group’s proposal misses “is that WHOIS data isn’t separate from the Internet—it’s part of the Internet itself, and they are trying to centralize global control over who gets to access that key Internet information, what can be done with it, and why.”

Information on who owns each Web domain and how to contact them is run by WHOIS. It was created in 1982 to make it easier to contact a domain operator if something went wrong. While there are security problems with having information on WHOIS records open to the public, having a closed system would bring problems of its own.

Key concerns around a closed system are who will decide when to give out information, and who will be eligible to receive such information.

The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) stated in August that problems could come up if a WHOIS database has a gatekeeper, as that person “would likely lack the capacity to identify and/or reject illegitimate or overly broad requests.”

The CDT states, “ICANN is unique and must act in an extra-jurisdictional capacity, so it is difficult to see how this new WHOIS would deal with, for example, a Chinese law enforcement request targeting a citizen of another country.”

The proposal for closing access to WHOIS ties to the weakening hold of the United States over ICANN.

In April, following the 46th ICANN meeting in Beijing, ICANN broke from its foundation in Los Angeles and opened two additional branches. One in Singapore will serve the Asia–Pacific and Europe, and another in Istanbul will serve the Middle East and Africa.

During the Beijing meeting, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade also announced that in order to shift ICANN’s “center of gravity” away from the United States, it would build its first local engagement center in Beijing, according to Intellectual Property Watch, which monitors international IP policy.

It states that Chehade said not making an ICANN office in China would cause it to lose some legitimacy.

China and Russia have been pressing for influence over ICANN for years, and the recent shifts are evidence they’re getting what they asked for.

Control over ICANN was a key part of debates in December 2012, when nations from around the world gathered in Dubai to discuss online regulations at the World Conference on International Telecommunications.

At the conference, according to the technology website Softpedia, “With no warning, several countries have made a proposal which would make it possible to effectively control IPs and domain names on a local level, superseding what ICANN and IANA are currently in charge of.”

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is a department of ICANN that maintains IP addresses and Country Code Top Level Domains.

Softpedia states that the proposals came from countries including Russia, China, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Sudan.

A leaked draft of the Russian proposal for the conference detailed its call for “equal rights to manage the Internet including in regard to the allotment, assignment and reclamation of Internet numbering,” according to Reuters. It reported the move could undermine the responsibilities of ICANN.

With the new branch of ICANN in China and a loosening grip on the organization that oversees the core Internet, the question now is will the proposals for controlling IPs and domain names at the local level pass, and how much further will ICANN’s mission be influenced by China and Russia?

Read the story on Epoch Times.

Chinese Gangs Fuel Meth Scourge in US, Mexico

Chinese gangs are supplying Mexican drug cartels with chemicals to create meth, fueling an epidemic of drug use in the United States and drug wars in Mexico.

Methamphetamine, which goes by several other names including meth, crystal, and ice, gives its users a several-minute rush if injected, and a feeling of euphoria if snorted or swallowed. It is also extremely addictive, and causes severe paranoia and violent behavior.

Meth used to be easy to make. The chemicals required to create the drug were available at most local drug stores, and people running meth labs used those shops as their local suppliers.

Alarmed at the growing popularity of the drug, in 2004 the United States began regulating pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in meth often found in cough medicine.

January report from the Congressional Research Service showed that the number of meth labs in the United States dropped nearly fourfold until 2007. Then the number of labs began rapidly increasing.

While some labs were able to evade the ban by getting people to purchase regulated cough medicine used to create weaker versions of meth, shipments of pure pseudoephedrine were coming in quantity into Mexico from China.

“The Mexican cartels have been dominating this illicit market into the United States for years now. The type of precursor chemicals, their bulk amounts, and their origins make this a true smoking gun,” said Robert Bunker, a distinguished visiting professor and Minerva chair at the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College.

Bunker noted that in 2011, the Mexican navy intercepted shipments from Shanghai bound for Mexico that contained 30 and 70 tons of methylamine, pseudoephedrine, and other chemicals that are precursors for meth.

Several other shipments have been seized, including in April 2012, when enough precursors to make $10 billion in meth were intercepted in Belize, heading to representatives of the Mexican drug cartel known as Los Zetas, from China according to China Brief, a publication of theJamestown Foundation.

“In fact, an illicit triangle trade has existed for some time now with Chinese industry supplying precursor chemicals, cartel labs in Mexico creating the product, and narcotics users in the United States paying hard cash for it,” Bunker said.

According to several sources, including China Brief, the shipments are tied to the Chinese Triads that have been increasingly exerting influence over Chinese communities in the region as China’s influence expands in Latin America.

Meth precursors are only part of the business for the Chinese Triads in Latin America, according to the China Brief report. They also traffic humans, narcotics, and contraband, and engage in extortion and money laundering.

The nature of the Triads also ties them to the Chinese Communist Party back in their homeland, according to Kerry Patton, an expert on terrorism and intelligence, and author of “Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors.”

The Triads work through Chinese hometown or business associations called “Tongs.” Some are good, some are bad, but the Chinese Communist Party actively tries to bring them into its fold, and maintains control or influence over many, according to Patton.

“That’s just the way that the Triads, the Tongs, work,” Patton said. “They get their blessings from certain elements in the Chinese government.”

In Mexico, meth has fed violent drug wars, which, according to Human Rights Watch, have killed more than 60,000 people between 2006 and 2012.

In the United States, the effects of the meth trade are also being felt.

“That’s the worst drug you can use,” said Ernie Encinas, founder of Coastline Protection and Investigations, and a former vice and homicide detective in the San Diego Police Department.

He said aside from the violence meth use encourages, the effect on people’s bodies is shocking. “They pick at their skin, their scabs. And they age really quick—really quick. The hair falls out. It’s all hard chemicals they’re using. Their sinuses get all destroyed.”

Encinas said meth started becoming a problem in the 1990s. In San Diego, the first groups to get into it were the biker gangs, yet when the Mexican gangs got a hold of it, the drug that used to run close to $9,000 a pound suddenly became affordable. “They brought the prices way down to less than half the price of a pound.”

When the prices dropped, local law enforcement knew they had a problem on their hands, and not long after, “we cut off the pseudoephedrine,” he said. Yet rather than going away, the market shifted, and “you had to get it from Mexico.”

Encinas said, from what he has seen, the raw chemicals, rather than the finished product, come across the border into the United States, where people running makeshift labs then convert them into meth.

Read it on Epoch Times, here.

China Leans on Russia for Fighter Jet Technology

China may soon be getting its hands on one of Russia’s core fighter jets, the Su-35. The purchase will bring China as close as it can get to challenging America’s modern air fleet.

Talks are ongoing, and “The signing will most likely take place next year,” Viktor Komardin, deputy-chief of Russia’s Rosoboronexport state-run arms exporter, told state-run Ria Novosti.

China’s push for the Su-35 tells something about the capabilities of its air force and the regime’s struggles to manufacture state-of-the-art equipment. The need for the Russian fighter is part of a trend seen in China’s military, which still relies heavily on foreign imports and stolen designs.

With this purchase, history is repeating itself. In the 1980s China began developing its J-10 fighter jet. It put a prototype in the air in the 1990s, yet, after facing frequent setbacks, China turned to Russia. In 1992, China purchased 50 Russian Su-27s, and since then has turned to Russia to fill orders for fighter jets and jet fighter/bombers.

According to Global Security, “The acquisition of Su-27, after China had attempted for years to develop the J-10 aircraft with equivalent technology to perform similar functions, demonstrates a lack of confidence in domestic industrial capabilities.”

Not until late 2006 did China complete its J-10, but even so the plane relies on Russian parts—particularly its engines.

In developing its fifth-generation fighter jet, the J-20, China again ran into problems. Facing frequent setbacks, it has again turned to the Russia for the next best thing, this time the Su-35.

Fighter jets are categorized by generation. The Su-35 was one of Russia’s last fighters in the fourth-generation (classified as the 4.5-generation).

Yet the world is now moving toward fifth-generation fighter jets. America has the F-35 and F-22, Russia has the T-50, and China has the J-20. The United States has also made its F-35 fighter available to its allies.

The Russian Su-35 is arguably one of few 4.5-generation fighter jets that can challenge the American F-35. The two planes have similar capabilities, although defense analysts have pointed out that the F-35’s key to victory is its advanced stealth.

While China has done all it can to promote the J-20, an expected completion date of sometime between 2017 and 2020 suggests the project is now just for show. By 2020, the United States is expected to be well into the development of its next-generation of fighter jets.

The most fundamental problem is that China is not capable of building engines for a fifth-generation fighter jet. It imports AL-31FN engines from Russia, and even its attempts to counterfeit the Russian engines have turned up dry.

In 2010, China announced it would begin manufacturing the engines itself, using its knock-off version of the Russian engine, the WS-10A, according to the StrategyPage website. Yet, just a year later it quietly renewed its orders for the Russian engines.

Chinese officials even publicly called out the regime’s state-owned aviation company, Aviation Industry Corporation of China. StrategyPage states that in China, “The public debate points to the continued inability to even achieve the lower (than in the West) manufacturing standards of Russia, whose state-run firms (during the Soviet period) were also never able to match Western standards.”

Even the J-20, itself, is suspected to be a knock-off of the defunct Russian MiG-1.44. Cross-comparisons between the J-20 and the MiG-1.44 show the designs are very similar.

An unnamed Russian Ministry of Defense official told Reuters in 2011 that it appeared the Chinese gained access to documents related to the jet. An independent analyst also told Reuters “China bought the technology for parts, including the tail of the Mikoyan, for money.”

Read the full story here.

New York Developer’s Shoddy Buildings Raise Questions of Influence

NEW YORK—A failure in proper oversight allowed a notorious developer to operate for two decades, and shoddy buildings are still standing. Critics say he couldn’t have done this without friends in the city government.

Tommy Huang, 59, and his wife, Alice Huang, 60, were banned for life in 1999 from building and selling residential properties in New York state. They broke that ban, and in September had to pay $4.8 million to the state attorney general to dodge a four-year prison sentence.

Attorney General Schneiderman said in a press release, “Mr. Huang’s misconduct stretches back decades and includes unsafe construction sites, environmental crimes, building code violations and fraudulent securities transactions–all in Queens.”

In 2007, Daily News likened Huang to a “one-man wrecking crew,” and noted that despite nearly two decades of shoddy building practices he was still getting building permits.

According to state Sen. Tony Avella, blame for lack of oversight should extend beyond the misdeeds of the Huang family. He said the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB), in particular, allowed them to operate for as long as they did—despite stacks of complaints and bad press.

“Every piece of property he touches becomes a problem,” Avella said. “So why, after problem, after problem was the Department of Buildings not cracking down on this individual? Either it’s malfeasance or corruption, but it has to be something.”

“Anybody else doing one-thousandth of a problem, like a homeowner, the city comes down on them like a ton of bricks, but this guy is Teflon. Nothing ever stops him. Nothing ever attaches to him,” Avella said.

The problems at a Huang development at 84-16 Queens Blvd. got the attorney general’s office involved, and illustrate the failure of oversight noted by Senator Avella.

Despite their ban on working in real estate, the Huangs had quietly continued their business behind their son Henry. On Jan. 10, 2011, a wall collapsed at the 84-16 Queens Boulevard site, pinning three construction workers and killing one of them.

The DOB had received more than 10 complaints about the property before the wall collapsed.

A Nov. 24, 2009, complaint to the DOB said the fire department told the department construction was being done on the site despite being given a stop work order. Yet, a comment from the Department of Building said the Huangs were “working in scope” of the order.

A caller on Oct. 14, 2010, warned them that workers were cutting away foundation, had no netting, and had no approved permits, according to a DOB record of the complaint.

On Nov. 12, 2010, the DOB received a warning that no shoring had been done and there was no protection for excavation on the property, as documented by the DOB. Shoring is a construction term that refers to supporting a structure to prevent collapse.

The DOB ruled the site safe a month later, after an order to “complete foundation on wall” had been given. A month after that, the fatal collapse took place.

Some of the most common problems with Huang’s properties stem from his not doing proper shoring, or properly testing the soil. This causes unstable foundations.

Epoch Times spoke with two real estate owners whose properties were allegedly damaged by Huang’s practices.

Neither would speak on record, yet both were concerned about what will happen to the Huang buildings still standing. What will happen, they each asked, when families move into homes built with potentially dangerous foundations?

Considering the hundreds of developments Huang has done in Queens since 1979, it’s a frightening prospect.

Tony Sclafani, spokesman for the DOB, said the department issued more than two dozen violations at the Queens Boulevard site, and issued several thousand dollars in fines. They have also had inspectors at the site and others owned by Huang.

Yet, the fundamental problem, according to Sclafani, is “the department does not have the authority to refuse the issuance of a permit based solely on past work history.”

Sen. Avella pointed out that Huang must be getting protection somehow. “Obviously, somebody has been protecting him. I don’t know who. Because I have been after the Department of Buildings for a decade to shut him down,” Avella said.

The Huangs are a powerful family, thanks to Alice Huang. She is the heiress to a fortune left from Taiwan’s Bull’s-Eye Barbecue Sauce. The company, founded by her father, was purchased by Kraft Foods.

She is also the cousin of John Liu, New York City comptroller and a mayoral candidate. Urban planner Paul Graziano suggested, according to the Daily News in 2012, that Huang’s ties to John Liu “could partially explain the city’s inaction.”

Tommy Huang’s longtime attorney, Lung Fong Chen, was close to Liu’s father, Joseph Liu, according to New York Post. Joseph Liu was convicted of bank fraud in 2001.

At press time, phone calls to Tommy and Alice Huang had not been returned. The office of H Rock Corp., chaired by their son Henry Huang, declined to comment. H Rock Corp. was among three companies fined for the Queens Boulevard collapse. No response was received from an email to John Liu.

Read the original post here.

Spies From China Besiege US Secrets

They hack trade secrets from thousands of miles away, or load the data onto thumb drives at their workplaces. They may engage in cloak and dagger spying, or be rewarded for using their positions of authority or influence, or gather intelligence without even knowing they are being used to do so.

“They” are the multitude of spies of various kinds employed by the People’s Republic of China to steal U.S. economic and security secrets.

In his book, The Art of Intelligence, former CIA agent Henry Crumpton says “Both Russia and China probably have more clandestine intelligence operatives inside the United States now, in the second decade of the 21 century, than at the height of the Cold War.”

Representative Billy Long said during a June 2012 congressional hearing that Russia and China “view economic espionage as an essential tool in statecraft to achieve stated national security and economic prosperity aims,” noting their daily attacks target sensitive technologies, economic data, private companies, academics, and regular U.S. citizens.

“It is critical Members of Congress and U.S. businesses understand that point: China and Russia have official government policies of stealing U.S. assets for economic gain,” he said.

There are regular cases of this taking place. On Sept. 3 the Chinese “Red Star” cyberattack re-emerged. It is a broad espionage campaign “that infected hundreds of high profile victims in more than 40 countries,” states a report from SecureList, a blog run by the security researcher firm Kaspersky.

Targets of Red Star include Tibetan and Uyghur activists, oil companies, scientific research institutes, universities, private companies, government, embassies, and military contractors.

This broad campaign has gotten little public attention. A Google News search for “Red Star” and the attack’s other name, “NetTraveler,” on Sept. 3 yielded no results beyond security websites.

Just a week prior, cyberespionage attacks targeting G-20 attendees were traced back to the Chinese military. Just prior to that, hackers traced to the Chinese military re-emerged with a fresh wave of attacks against the U.S. government and U.S. businesses.

Many Varieties

Yet cyberespionage is only part of the picture. The number of Chinese spies in the United States, and the breadth of their activities, dwarfs that of any other nation.

They include students, journalists, visiting scholars, insiders at companies, businessmen, criminal organizations, conventional spies, and agents of influence who try to recruit others into the fold.

David Wise, a leading writer on intelligence and espionage, and author of “Tiger Trap: America’s Secret Spy War with China,” presented an analogy to put Chinese spying in perspective, during an interview with Democracy Now.

He said if various nations wanted intelligence on a beach, “The Russians would send in a submarine in the dark of night and collect several buckets of sand, the Americans would send over a spy satellite and collect reams of data that would be analyzed back in Washington.”

The Chinese, however, “would send in a thousand tourists, each with instructions to collect one grain of sand,” he said. And as part of the analogy, he said they would go back to China, “shake out their towels and at the end of that time China would know more about that beach than anyone else.”

When it comes to the Chinese, “You have several different types of overseas spies,” said Terry Minarcin, a retired NSA agent.

According to Minarcin, Chinese agents will often target ethnic Chinese, particularly those who are part of “Tongs” that dot Chinese communities and range from hometown associations to fraternal business associations.

“So you’ve got the Chinese who already belong to a Tong, and so they’ll go in there and say the Mother Tong is back in the motherland, and this is what I’d like you to do,” he said.

“It doesn’t work every time, but it works more often than not,” he said.

Read the full story here.

Resource Furniture Competes With Quality Against ‘Slave Labor’

NEW YORK—Ron Barth hits play on an online video, and to a techno-disco beat a Chinese man is shown transforming shelves into beds, a wall rotates to reveal a flip-down queen-sized mattress, desks turn into tables.

For the uninformed consumer, the video presents an affordable cascade of space-saving furniture. For Barth, it’s a counterfeit market that’s difficult to compete against, and a slave economy that is rapidly marching on the West.

“These are knocked-off products from China,” Barth says, looking at the furniture made to look like his own. “They copied everything.”

Resource Furniture, the company he co-founded with his business partner, Steve Spett, started from humble beginnings, yet grew to international acclaim after a video of their unique furniture went viral. Resource Furniture is now the largest space-saving furniture company in the United States.

Yet the fame also brought some unwanted attention. A friend sent him a link to an online store selling knock-off versions of his products, and he already found a shop in Canada that was selling the counterfeit furniture. Barth says “he was trying to sell them out of his house.”

For Barth, the concern is less about the illicit shops, and more about what is behind them. His company imports very high quality products that are finished one piece at a time with exceptional care. Chinese counterfeits often show signs of lower quality production.

“All those specific individualized finishes and the quality of the specialized hardware with no compromises or short-cuts; that’s something a smaller scale business like us can’t do out of China. The level of quality control and oversight just isn’t possible for us to do.” he says. “You need to buy a high volume of container loads. But still that is not what we want to do even if it were manageable.”

He believes in caring for his employees and supports business that maintains a decent way of life. His manufacturers at the furniture company Clei in Italy are well off, with steady incomes and lives outside their jobs.

Resource Furniture and the Italian factory hire people who do the work as a trade—designers whose craft is their art. And while he’s aware he could make more profit mass producing in China, he refuses to do business with a country where manufacturing and crimes against humanity can be one and the same.

“I think it’s a slave labor society,” Barth says. “I don’t care if I could make more money participating in it. I have to sleep at night.”

A Living Wage

When globalization gives economies with slave labor wide access to markets around the world, the slave-labor economies drive down the quality of life elsewhere.

“The U.S. manufacturing wages are fairly high, but the wages have actually gone down in this country because of foreign competition,” says Daniel Katz, an expert on the effects of outsourcing manufacturing.

Katz says in parts of the auto industry, in particular, wages in manufacturing dropped from $35 or $40 an hour in the 1980s, to $15 or $20 an hour now. He says, “It’s still a fair wage, but you can’t be well off from manufacturing in the U.S. like you were before.”

The question then comes down to quality and competition. At the Foxconn factory in China, which used to manufacture Apple products, workers are expected to put in 12-hour days, 6 days a week, and live in on-site dorms.

Katz says “that would never hold up in the U.S.—that kind of living—because we actually have proper labor laws.”

Read the full story here.

Chinese Telecom Leverages Firefox for Image of Privacy

Take a company with an internal, shadowy board run by the government that was called out for violating customer privacy.

Team it up with a company that is one of the best known for openness and privacy.

Then create a smartphone, and put it on eBay for $60.

This is exactly what is taking place right now with the new ZTE Open Firefox OS phone, and it’s looking like a privacy advocate’s nightmare.

Mozilla, a U.S. software company praised for its openness and respect for user rights, has teamed up with ZTE, a Chinese telecom with an internal board controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, which is decried for its violation of openness and respect for user rights.

The ZTE Open Firefox OS phone was announced by Mozilla on Aug. 12, and turned some heads in the tech world, not only for its $60 price tag, but also for the positive reputation Mozilla has from its Firefox Web browser.

Yet, there was little discussion about the other company behind the phone: Chinese telecom ZTE.

On Oct. 8, 2012, a report from the U.S. House Intelligence Committee warned companies to avoid Chinese telecoms ZTE and Huawei, stating that doing business with the telecoms can put a company and its users at risk.

The report came after an extensive review of Huawei and ZTE, which included interviews with both companies. It pointed out that both have internal boards controlled by the Chinese regime. It states that, while the companies put on a show of being cooperative during interviews and congressional hearings, they avoided questions, and declined to provide crucial information on the grounds that it would violate China’s spying laws.

The conclusion of the report was clear and simple: “Based on available classified and unclassified information, Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems.”

An even clearer warning was given by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in an interview with “60 Minutes.”

Rogers said, “I would find another vendor if you care about your intellectual property, if you care about your consumers’ privacy, and you care about the national security of the United States of America.”

Read the full story here.

In Backing Disgraced Treasurer, John Liu Sticks Close to Beijing

NEW YORK—In the midst of a hotly contested race for mayor, Comptroller John Liu publicly spurned an aide guilty of breaking campaign finance laws, while showing loyalty to his campaign treasurer, who was found guilty of the same offenses. With that loyalty Liu has demonstrated his fealty to the vast system in Chinatown that’s under the influence of the Chinese regime—including its state-run media, its township associations, and its agents of influence.

Liu made his stance clear the day that Xing Wu (Oliver) Pan and Jenny Hou were sentenced.

At his May 2 evening press conference, Liu reiterated that Jenny Hou was a good, capable person. Asked about Pan, Liu coldly replied, “I said what I said about Jenny.”

On May 16, both Liu and Pan attended a celebration hosted by one of Chinatown’s associations, the Fujian Fuqi Association. During the event, neither Liu nor any members of the association would speak to Pan, who left halfway through with tears in his eyes.

According to sources in Chinatown, Pan had lost trust because he was the one who introduced Liu to an undercover FBI agent.

In backing Jenny Hou, Liu is affirming his ties to her father, Hou Jianli, president of the Beijing Township Association, which has close ties to the Chinese regime.

Associations Come Courting
Township associations play pseudo-governmental roles in Chinese communities around the world. They are often divided between those that support Taiwan and those that support the Chinese regime.

The Chinese regime has two government branches dedicated to winning over the associations: the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, and the United Front Work Department. After winning them over, the regime uses them to govern and control Chinese communities.

Leaders of Chinese associations, under the regime’s influence, often use trips to China as a way to bring people into the regimes orbit.

Liu personally met with the vice president of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, Xu Yousheng, during a trip he took to China in 2007, when he was still a City Council member.

One of Liu’s six escorts on that trip was Jenny Hou’s father. The others included Lu Chenrai, chairman of the Shandong Township Association and the U.S. Shandong Chinese Chamber of Commerce; Xu Jiashu, Chairman of New York Chinese Chamber of Commerce; and Zhuang Zhenhui, former chairman of New York Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce.

Photographs show Liu with Xu Yousheng, and the other leaders of Chinese associations from New York.

Agent of Influence

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange described how the Chinese regime develops agents of influence in an Oct. 5, 2009, article announcing the release of an internal report from the U.K. Ministry of Defense.

“The process of being cultivated as a ‘friend of China’ (ie. an ‘agent’) is subtle and long-term,” states Assange’s summary of the report.

It states that when a person of interest is brought to China, agents of the regime will try to exploit the person’s interest in Chinese culture, flatter them, and use food and alcohol to “soften” the process. Then the offers will come.

Read the full story here.

Exposing the Chinese Regime’s Influence in NYC

NEW YORK—Lu Dong completely opposes City Comptroller John Liu’s run for New York City mayor.

It is not so much Liu’s policies, nor the fact that two of Liu’s staff were found guilty of attempting to use straw donors to defraud the city of campaign matching funds. He is against John Liu because of the people in the Chinese community driving his campaign behind the scenes—people in the United States who are beholden to the Chinese regime, as Lu once was.

Lu was one of three leaders in New York of the Chinese regime’s strategy to influence and infiltrate the United States. He and the others were assigned to be on the front lines of recruiting Chinese businesses and nonprofits under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) flag, with the purpose of influencing local politics and promoting the interests of the CCP abroad.

After renouncing his position with the regime, Lu has now made it a life goal to expose the filth of the system. He walked away from the perks granted to allies of the CCP. Now he receives death threats for speaking out, both individually, and as the spokesman for the New York-based The Christian Democracy Party of China.

Beginnings in Tiananmen

In 1989, Lu joined with thousands of students in Tiananmen Square who believed the CCP could reform and open up to the outside. Yet that hope was crushed under the treads of tanks, and the boots of soldiers acting under orders to silence the peaceful protest.

Lu, a public school teacher, fled China after the massacre to start a new life in the United States. He received his master’s degree from Hunter College in New York and in 2002 became a U.S. citizen.

Lu established an association for graduate students to help the Chinese do business with the United States. “We were under the delusion that we could do business first, then democracy would follow,” said Lu, adding that his role as a leader of the Tiananmen protests gave him a level of fame and influence among Chinese living in the United States.

Lu’s timing was right. President George H. W. Bush had recently passed the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992 to help Chinese dissidents escape persecution. This built on Executive Order 12711, passed in 1990, which made it easier for Chinese students to get green cards.

Thus, when Lu put an advertisement for his association, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (name translated from Chinese), in the Chinese newspapers, “Everyone came,” he said.

Read the full story here.

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