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The Actions Against TikTok And WeChat Are Mafia-Style Capitalism Daryl Guppy

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The U.S.’s actions against ByteDance’s TikTok and Tencent’s WeChat are aspects of what some have called mafia-style capitalism. They constitute a broader threat to international business operations and to an established rules-based global order. These actions shift the ground under the feet of business.

Some suggest that the TikTok ban is no different from China’s ban on various U.S.-based apps. However, this suggestion is wrong.

China bans these apps because they refuse to comply with Chinese legal requirements. Whilst we might not agree with some Chinese laws, this does not mean we have a right to break these laws. The sale of any product or service into any country must comply with the laws of the target country and not the laws of the country from which the service it originates.

Software services that provided to Europe must comply with EU data privacy provisions even though Google and Facebook feel that they should only be required to comply with U.S. law.

The ban on TikTok is fundamentally different to the Chinese ban on Facebook. The U.S. government’s explanation for the ban is that TikTok poses a security threat but this threat disappears if they surrender their business to a U.S. company.

This suggests that unlike the Chinese ban on Facebook, the U.S. ban has little to do with complying with the law and more to do with destroying business competition. If security was a genuine concern, then TikTok would not be able to operate in the U.S. under any circumstances.

The proposed ban on Tencent and WeChat is more akin to the sustained attack on Huawei. It is deliberate state-sponsored destruction of a business competitor.

The justification for the WeChat ban is that Article 7 of China’s National Intelligence Law says companies must “cooperate with state intelligence work in accordance with the law.” Much is made of this law by the United States and some other countries. The allegations suggest this requirement is unique to China when in fact it’s a requirement of many other governments.

In today’s world it is inevitable that state organizations will demand and get access to personal data held by companies.

In 2018, the Australian government passed the Assistance and Access Act which allows government agencies to compel companies and their employees to enable investigators to access encrypted data.

The legislation is not much different in intent from the often quoted Chinese law of the Article 7 security requirements. This Australian legislation adds to the requirement to retain records of every single person’s calls, texts, and internet browsing history for at least two years so it can be accessed by police and security services.

Australia is hardly unique in this type of requirement. The United States, with the assistance of the Five Eyes allies, runs surveillance programs that require private companies to surrender information.

The ECHELON program is a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications. The PRISM surveillance program requires internet companies such as Google to comply with requests to target encrypted communications as they travel across the internet backbone.

In 2013, German Chancellor Angela Merkel discovered her phone and email were monitored by the U.S. security services. The National Security Agency not only bugs the phones of drug kingpins and reads the e-mails of al-Qaeda members, but also targets so-called “friendly” states, such as Germany, Brazil and France.

In a recent congressional testimony, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went as far as to acknowledge that Facebook had voluntarily assisted security agencies before they were asked to do so.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies remotely during a House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., the U.S., on July 29, 2020. /AP

The act of different nations’ laws and regulations demanding for access to personal data is universal so the idea that Tencent is uniquely positioned as a security risk is false. This is a convenient catch-all smoke screen designed to disable a competitor to U.S. companies.

Users are well aware their activity is tracked by companies, by governments and by malign data harvesters like Cambridge Analytica. Surveillance capitalism is an established but broadly accepted risk to personal security.

Will China ban Apple’s iPhone on the grounds that it carries an inherent security risk? Apart from any symbolism, there is no need. WeChat is deeply embedded in the fabric of Chinese life in ways well beyond that achieved by simplistic Western social media.

If WeChat is unable to be installed on iPhones in China, then the iPhone becomes little more than jewelry. President Trump will have destroyed a profitable U.S. business without the need for any Chinese retaliation.

Analysis of this shakedown shows the real issue here is not security. After all, we are all monitored and tracked by private companies and government under various forms of catch-all security provisions.

The real issue is the use of state power to achieve commercial ends by what is the effective destruction of business using mafia-capitalism and that’s a path which the international businesses must oppose.

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Xi Says CPC is the ‘Strong Force’ to Lead Chinese People Forward

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The past 110 years have proven that the Communist Party of China (CPC) is the “strong force” to lead the Chinese people to realize national rejuvenation, President Xi Jinping said at a meeting in Beijing on Saturday marking the 110th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution.

“The Party was chosen to lead by history and by the people… Without the Communist Party there would be no new China and no national rejuvenation,” said Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission.

The 1911 Revolution, or Xinhai Revolution, overthrew the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and put an end to the absolute monarchy in China.

The history of the Xinhai Revolution began with the Wuchang Uprising, an armed rebellion against the Qing Dynasty rulers that broke out on October 10, 1911 in what is today’s Wuchang District, Wuhan City, in central China’s Hubei Province.

The Revolution marked a historic step, leading to the establishment of the Republic of China (1912-1949) and ensuing social changes in the country.

The People’s Republic of China was then founded in 1949.

On Saturday, Xi said that “socialism with Chinese characteristics has proven to be the only correct path” to realize national rejuvenation.

“On the journey ahead, we must uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, keep adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of our times, remain firmly committed to our aspiration and our path, and make sure the future of China’s development remains firmly in our own hands,” he said.

Xi added that “the Chinese people must rely on our own heroic efforts” to achieve national rejuvenation. “Never has history taken a peaceful or tranquil course; it has always advanced amid setbacks and difficulties.”

He quoted late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who said: “Our forefathers never stopped waging unyielding struggles against domestic and foreign oppressors… By our own indomitable efforts, we the Chinese people will unswervingly reach our goal.”

Xi called on China to “seize the opportunities that the era has offered” in a world that is “undergoing momentous changes of a kind not seen in a century.”

“Through courage and skill, we will overcome all major risks and challenges that may impede our path to national rejuvenation and resolutely safeguard our national sovereignty, security and development interests.”

Xi urged that “the Chinese people and the nation must stick together through good times and bad and rely on our strong unity to overcome all risks and challenges on the road ahead.”

He noted that a united people with a great spirit of patriotism has always been “an important instrument that has allowed the CPC to rally the people’s support and pool their strength” for all endeavors.

He also pointed out that both “a stable and united domestic environment” and “a peaceful and stable international environment” are required to achieve national rejuvenation. “Our people hope to successfully realize national development, but they also hope to see all peoples of the world leading happy and peaceful lives,” he said.

“On the journey ahead, China will always fly the flag of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, strive to promote the building of a human community with a shared future, and endeavor to improve the global governance system,” Xi said.

In his speech, Xi also reiterated that the Taiwan question will be resolved as national rejuvenation becomes a reality. “This is determined by the general trend of Chinese history, but more importantly, it is the common will of all Chinese people.”

“National reunification by peaceful means best serves the interests of the Chinese nation as a whole, including our compatriots in Taiwan,” he said.

Xi called on compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits to “stand on the right side of history and join hands to achieve China’s complete reunification and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

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CMG: Continue to Support Taiwan Entertainers to Perform on the Chinese Mainland

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The gala celebrating the National Day of China broadcast by China Media Group (CMG) has received a warm response at home and abroad. Many entertainers from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan regions performed on stage with their mainland counterparts, presenting a high quality gala.

In response to the recent threats against actors and actresses by some media in Taiwan, the spokesperson for the Culture and Art Program Center of the China Media Group has replied as follows:

“At every major festival of China, the China Media Group will produce special programs and invite entertainer from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan to join with those in the mainland to participate in the performances and share the glory of the festival.

Taiwan entertainers participating in the variety shows and other activities are well received by the audience.

In disregard of the facts, some media have frequently threatened, intimidated, and slandered Taiwan entertainers who have contacts with the mainland. We are firmly opposed to this. We reiterate that we welcome entertainers from Taiwan to participate in our programs.”

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Latest Round of Talks Between China and U.S. Concludes in Switzerland

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The latest round of talks between China and the U.S. concluded in Zurich on October 6. Chinese delegates are departing after talks with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

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