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Question of the Day
ATTACKS ON VIETNAM
China recently has stepped up its flexing of big-power muscles on several fronts as Southeast Asian states challenge Beijing's sweeping claims of sovereignty over the resource-rich South China Sea. Beginning June 8, a massive, highly organized hacking attack emanating from China was carried out against several hundred key Vietnamese Internet sites, including the official website of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry. The attacks paralyzed all the sites and left them covered with Chinese national flags and music files that played a jingoistic rendition of the Chinese national anthem.
Politically and diplomatically, Beijing is trying to isolate Vietnam from its neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations by increasing ties to Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.
Militarily, not a day goes by without state-run Chinese media boasting of China's naval prowess to counter alleged Vietnamese "provocations." The message was highlighted in mid-June by China's large-scale naval and amphibious drills near the disputed areas of the South China Sea, a response to Vietnam's much smaller military drills. Military officials, including Rear Adm. Yin Zhuo, a cyberwarfare specialist, have become fixated on talking down Vietnam's forces, accusing it of naval "weakness" and "military desperation."
Although other nations in the region, notably the Philippines and Malaysia, have similar territorial disputes with China, Beijing considers Vietnam the worst offender. Historically, China considers Vietnam an inferior tributary state.
China fought two naval battles against the Vietnamese navy over the Paracel Islands in 1974 and the Spratly Islands in 1988, in addition to the full-scale invasion of Vietnam on land in 1979.
THE RETURN OF MAO
July 1 will mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. To celebrate, the political landscape of China has become like a replica of today's Stalinist North Korea or Mao's China where self-glorification has no boundaries.
In addition to routine displays of self-congratulation for the Communist Party's achievements in every possible aspect of human existence, one particular effort is evident in bringing back what the communists regard as the glory of Mao Zedong, the communist leader responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese people during his brutal rule from 1949 to 1976.
Mao-era songs and music, known as "Red Songs," have been ordered to be performed nationwide. Two scholars, the economist Mao Yushi and the historian Xin Ziling, were singled out as traitors for slandering Mao in their articles and speeches.
Seizing this opportunity, foreign-born Maoists are seeing a resurgence too. Harpal Brar, the current chief of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), was featured prominently June 27 in the official party newspaper, the People's Daily, praising the Chinese Communist Party's great contribution to the International communist movement and the current leaders' continuation of Mao's anti-imperialism spirit.
Starting the first week of June, several foreign-born Maoists were profiled one by one in the People's Daily's "Strong China Forum," a bastion of ultranationalism and ideological rhetoric, for their lifelong devotion to the Chinese communist cause. They included Solomon Adler, a communist agent who operated inside the Treasury Department during World War II; Joan Hinton, a radical Maoist and nuclear physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project with a lifetime dedication to bringing down "American imperialism" from her privileged dairy farm near Beijing; and Israel Epstein, a Soviet KGB spy turned die-hard Maoist and one of China's chief foreign-born propagandists.
The world's largest military is also the world's most secretive. But the secrecy is giving the leadership of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) a headache: How do they maintain military secrecy without causing a backlash among young soldiers who are predisposed to being socially active and easily influenced by computer games, the Internet, cell phones and social media — all of which are banned or severely restricted within the PLA?
To meet this challenge and fill the social media vacuum, the PLA high command announced June 26 that an indigenously designed, ideologically correct computer game has been approved for distribution among its soldiers.
The computer game is a military war-game to mimic a combat operation code-named "Glorious Mission." The promotional package points out the purpose for playing this game:
"To be loyal to the Party; to love the people; to sacrifice for the motherland; to be devoted to our mission; and to seek glory."
• Miles Yu's column appears Thursdays. He can be reached a email@example.com.
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