Posts Tagged ‘Edward Snowden’

After Hong Kong Democracy Protests, Xi Jinping Raises Keeping Hong Kong As It Is To Level of China’s “Core Interests”

January 29, 2015

Hong Kong is now a ‘major concern’ for Beijing that must be ‘respected earnestly’, PLA officer tells US defence official

By Angela Meng
South China Morning Post

Sun Jianguo, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the PLA, right, greets Vincent Brooks, Commanding General of the US Army Pacific, in Beijing on January 15. Photo: Reuters

A high-ranking PLA officer has told a visiting senior US defence official that Hong Kong was among Beijing’s “core interests and key concerns,” the PLA Daily reported.

Deputy Chief of General Staff Sun Jianguo made the comments to the Michael Vickers, the US Undersecretary of Defence for Intelligence, during a meeting at Ministry of Defence in Beijing on Tuesday, the military newspaper reported.

In a rare mention, if not for the first time, the PLA Daily reported that Sun said Taiwan, Hong Kong, the East and South China Seas, and Internet security were among China’s “core interests” and “major concerns”, which the US should “earnestly respect”.

Vickers responded that mutual respect was the most important principle of bilateral relations, and the two sides should maintain high-level dialogue and pragmatic cooperation to ensure “strategic stability”, the Daily reported.

Sun also touched on other issues of the bilateral military ties, including maintaining high-level visits between the two armies, building mutual trust, handling differences and controlling risks and challenges.

Hua Chunying, the spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a regular press conference that she was unaware of the details of the defence meeting.


Hong Kong added to Beijing’s list of ‘core interests’ amid post-Occupy unease

City raised as key national issue in Sino-US talks in sign of post-Occupy unease in the capital

By Teddy Ng in Beijing and Peter So
South China Morning Post

Hong Kong has been named publicly as one of China’s “core interests and key concerns” in a veiled warning from Beijing to Washington over territorial issues.

The rare reference surfaced in a military-to-military meeting in Beijing on Tuesday between PLA deputy chief of general staff Sun Jianguo and US undersecretary of defence for intelligence Michael Vickers, the PLA Daily reported.

Mainland analysts and Hong Kong politicians said the remarks signalled higher concern in the capital about US interference in Hong Kong since the Occupy Central protests.

In listing the core matters, Sun mentioned Hong Kong after Taiwan, but before the East and South China seas and cybersecurity, the report said. “The US should earnestly respect China’s core interests and key concerns,” Sun was quoted as saying.

His remarks follow repeated claims from mainland media and Hong Kong officials that “foreign forces” had meddled in the city’s politics. US President Barack Obama said in November that the US had no role in the protests, but called for transparent and fair elections in Hong Kong.

In a white paper in 2011, Beijing defined its core interests as national sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity, national unity, stability of its political system and society in line with its constitution, and sustainable socio-economic development.

Renmin University international relations specialist Jin Canrong said Sun’s remarks indicated that “China does not trust the US, and believes the US is involved in Occupy Central”.

Retired PLA major general Xu Guangyu agreed that Beijing was sending a message to the US. “Sun is telling the US to calm down and not to have any illusions about using Hong Kong to stir things up,” Xu said.

Peking University international relations professor Jia Qingguo said: “Any attempts to demand independence is an act to split the nation. Beijing will not allow it, and is asking the US not to be involved.”

But Albert Ho Chun-yan, former chairman of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, said the more high-handed Beijing was towards Hong Kong, “the more Hongkongers will alienate themselves from the mainland and feel closer to Britain and America in terms of core values. This will only create more trouble”.

New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said Occupy Central and the saga surrounding US whistleblower Edward Snowden had prompted the national security officials to put Hong Kong on the agenda with their counterparts.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she was unaware of the details of the meeting. The defence ministry said only that core interests were defined in the 2011 white paper.

Additional reporting by Minnie Chan and Joyce Ng


China calls Snowden’s stealth jet hack accusations ‘groundless’

January 19, 2015

BEIJING Mon Jan 19, 2015 5:10am EST

(Reuters) – China dismissed accusations it stole F-35 stealth fighter plans as groundless on Monday, after documents leaked by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden on a cyber attack were published by a German magazine.

The Pentagon has previously acknowledged that hackers had targeted sensitive data for defense programs such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but stopped short of publicly blaming China for the F-35 breach.

Defense experts say that China’s home-grown stealth jets had design elements resembling the F-35.


 The Pentagon and the jet’s builder, Lockheed Martin Corp, had said no classified information was taken during the cyber intrusion.

German magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday published a cache of Snowden documents, including a top secret U.S. government presentation that said China stole “many terabytes” of data on the F-35 program, including radar designs and engine schematics.

“The so-called evidence that has been used to launch groundless accusations against China is completely unjustified,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

Hong said the “complex nature” of cyber attacks makes it difficult to pinpoint the relevant attacker, adding that China wanted to work with other countries to prevent hacking.

“According to the materials presented by the relevant person, some countries themselves have disgraceful records on cyber security,” Hong added.

Snowden’s 2013 revelations of the broad reach of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) spying program sparked international outrage.

Lockheed Martin is producing the F-35 for the U.S. military and allies in a $399 billion project, the world’s most expensive weapons program.

It is intended to deliver advanced stealth capabilities, improved manoeuvrability and high-tech sensors, but the program has struggled with delays and budget overruns.

China unveiled its highly anticipated J-31 twin-engine fighter jet at an air show late last year in a show of muscle during a visit to the country by U.S. President Barack Obama.

China’s J-31

The aircraft’s maker, Aviation Industry Corp of China, caused a stir when its president, Lin Zuoming, said the jet could “take down” the F-35.

President Xi Jinping has pushed to toughen the country’s 2.3 million-strong armed forces as China takes a more assertive stance in the region, particularly in the South China and East China seas.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee, Writing by Michael Martina; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Britain’s MI5 and MI6 are losing ground to terrorists

January 18, 2015

Interview: Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee, on featuring in the James Bond film Skyfall, his memories of Baroness Thatcher, and why internet firms must help spies catch terrorists from Islamic State

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee Photo: Julian Simmonds/ The Telegraph
The Sunday Telegraph
By ,Political Correspondent

When Britain’s intelligence agencies launch a top-secret operation of critical national importance, a handful of people in Whitehall must be told, wherever they are, at whatever hour of day or night.

Aside from the Prime Minister, who is personally responsible for national security, the Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary may be involved.

So too will Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC). This group of nine senior MPs and peers serve as the eyes and ears of Parliament – and the wider public – on the secret activities of MI5, MI6 and the government’s listening station, GCHQ.

During a Cabinet career that began in the Cold War under Margaret Thatcher, Sir Malcolm held two senior posts in which he relied on secret intelligence every day.

“When I was foreign secretary and defence secretary, I used ‘the product’,” he says, in a phrase straight from the novels of John Le Carre.

“Now my main responsibility is how the information is obtained and the constraints upon the success in doing so. It is fascinating.”

His committee is no Westminster talking shop for MPs who like the sound of their own voices.

Much of its work occurs not just in private, but in secrecy and silence (its members are bound by the Official Secrets Act).

The committee regularly requires MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to provide highly classified details of their activities and visits the agencies’ offices to watch in person as operations unfold.

Then, when a crisis comes, Sir Malcolm finds himself on the end of a phone call summoning him to a secret briefing.

“If something very suddenly happens or is about to happen, I as chairman will get a call or message from the head of the relevant agency, saying ‘Chairman, you might like to know this is happening.’”


Sir Malcolm, 68, who with his wife Edith has two grown up children – Caroline and the journalist Hugo Rifkind – is one of Westminster’s most experienced and respected operators. His knowledge of Whitehall and the intelligence-gathering structures of the British state is extensive.

In his view, there is no reason to think the UK is safe from the threat of the kind of gun attack that caused carnage in Paris at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket.

“You cannot exclude any of these possibilities. Charlie Hebdo was operating from an office which had police protection. You simply cannot say that some comparable target in London, Rome, Berlin or Madrid will not be attempted.

“Whether they succeed or not depends on several things.”

Not least, the chances of identifying the threat before it happens, which lies at the heart of the row over whether the so-called “snooper’s charter” laws are necessary.

“If as we all accept, the problem is international jihadi terrorism, how do international terrorists communicate with each other? They communicate by the internet, by email, by social messaging. That’s the world we live in,” Sir Malcolm says.

As party leaders argue over the right response to the terrorist threat, he is clear that the mounting danger from hundreds of jihadists returning home to Britain from Iraq and Syria means the agencies must be able to intercept private communications over the internet as well as data to trace mobile phone calls.

Last year, Sir Malcolm’s committee found that Facebook, the social networking website, held information that Michael Adebowale was planning to attack a soldier in the street. Four months later, in May 2013, he and Michael Adebolajo hacked Fusilier Lee Rigby to death in Woolwich. The murder could have been prevented if the information had been passed from Facebook to the authorities.

Sir Malcolm strongly supports a legal requirement – dubbed the “snoopers’ charter” law by Nick Clegg and others – for mobile phone companies to retain records of calls, emails and internet messages for intelligence agencies to use if needed.

“We concluded that that was justifiable and necessary,” he says.

“Neither MI6 nor MI5 nor GCHQ can retain indefinitely large amounts of information. What we think they ought to be able to do if they get a warrant from the Secretary of State, or the relevant permission that is required, is get access to it, on a case by case basis.”


Intelligence agencies are also struggling as a result of the activities of Edward Snowden, who revealed the mass surveillance techniques of America’s National Security Agency, as well as GCHQ, to devastating effect in 2013.

A new generation of highly encrypted phone and computer systems has now emerged to satisfy consumers fearful of having their phones and emails hacked. Security chiefs fear that terrorists, too, can now more easily hide.

Yet one of the ISC‘s most important roles is to try to reassure the public that the spies are not out of control, as Snowden claimed, Sir Malcolm says.

“Hacking into emails, or listening to other people’s conversations, or bugging a house or building – these are serious powers in a democracy and therefore you need to have oversight.”

Does he think Snowden did the world a service by exposing the extent of state snooping in the West?

“I don’t think he is a whistleblower,” he says. “Snowden stole – and I use the word explicitly – he stole a million highly classified documents, top secret documents.

“And he hands them over to The Guardian or other newspapers. Now that is not whistleblowing. That is a political act. It is a criminal act as well but it was essentially an expression of his own political ideology and I don’t think he deserves sympathy.”

The ISC will be publishing a major new report within weeks on the balance between security and privacy in the internet age, an investigation which developed in the aftermath of the Snowden revelations.

Sir Malcolm reveals that it will propose a major overhaul of the law underpinning the operations of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to take account of the “tremendous changes in technology” over the past 30 years.

It also seems likely to demand an unprecedented new culture of public transparency. All parties will be expected to endorse the committee’s plan.

“There will be a lot of recommendations in our report,” he says. “There will be some very radical proposals with regard to both the legislation and the transparency requirements, which we will be putting to Parliament and to the government over the next month or so.”


Another report which Sir Malcolm wants to see published as soon as possible is Sir John Chilcot’s long-delayed verdict on his inquiry into the Iraq War.

“I think it’s awful that it’s not being published this side of the end of the parliament. I think it’s appalling.” One reason given for the delays has been that individuals facing criticism – believed to include Tony Blair – have been given a final opportunity to respond.

“That should be able to be done in weeks, not months,” Sir Malcolm says. “It is counterproductive. It is against the national interest to have a report of this kind hanging around for as long as it is.”


A veteran campaigner who first entered Parliament in 1974, Sir Malcolm, 68, was one of the highest profile Cabinet casualties to lose his seat in the Blair landslide of 1997. He insists that the Tories can win this year.

“If the Conservatives had been in power for three, four parliamentary terms, the public get bored of you,” he says. “But this is only one term. Normally a government is re-elected unless there is a reason not to.”

Mr Cameron stands to benefit too if the usual issues of the economy and the public’s choice of the best prime minister dominate the campaign, he says.

“All the analysis is that the public see David Cameron as someone who can handle the responsibilities of Prime Minister. He carries the burden on his shoulders very well. Fairly or unfairly, they don’t seem to take the same view of the Leader of the Opposition.”

So shouldn’t Mr Cameron seize his chance to go into the televised election debates and trounce Mr Miliband in front of millions of viewers?

“I’m not going to intervene in that particular matter,” says Sir Malcolm, ever alert to the danger of a word out of turn.


Favourite memory of Baroness Thatcher? “She was once asked, ‘do you believe in consensus?’ To our astonishment, she said, ‘Yes I do. There should be a consensus behind my convictions.’

Did she ever “handbag” you? “Once she started poking me in the ribs, literally. She said: ‘I remember, 1939, we went to war to save Poland. You weren’t even born yet.’ I said, ‘it’s not my fault.’ I got The Look.”

Favourite political satire? “Apart from Spitting Image? It has to be Yes, Minister. I am a devoted admirer of the original Yes, Minister. They were superb.”

James Bond or George Smiley? “Smiley. Bond is fantasy. It’s wonderful stuff and great fun but le Carre is much closer. You can feel the atmosphere there.”

Did you watch Skyfall, the most recent Bond film? “I am in it. Ralph Fiennes plays Mallory, the chairman of the ISC. I said I would have been perfectly happy to play myself – then I discovered he gets shot.”

Would you follow Fiennes’s character and take over as head of MI6? “I don’t think so. I assured the head of an agency once that I wasn’t after his job. I got a rictus smile.”

Favourite meal? “My wife always disapproves but if I get the opportunity I indulge in steak tartare. She is convinced this is extremely bad for me.”

Freedom Canceled: Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Student Leaders Denied Trip to Beijing by Communist Government

November 15, 2014

Cathay Pacific spokesman tells the Federation of Students’ Alex Chow Yong-kang, Eason Chung Yiu-wa and Nathan Law Kwun-chung their immigration documents have been revoked

Stuart Lau and Joyce Ng
South China Morning Post

Three pro-democracy student leaders attempting to visit Beijing were turned away at Hong Kong airport on Saturday, as airline staff said their immigration documents had been revoked by mainland authorities.

Alex Chow Yong-kang, Eason Chung Yiu-wa and Nathan Law Kwun-chung, all from the Federation of Students, looked shocked when they heard the announcement from a Cathay Pacific staff member, who said the airline was “notified this morning” about the revocation of their home-return permits.

The government in Beijing has yet to offer any explanation for the abrupt change of their immigration status. Lester Shum, the group’s deputy leader, said it would hold a press conference at 7.30pm.

The trio made no comment to dozens of reporters at Chek Lap Kok airport covering what would otherwise have been a historic trip, with Hong Kong’s democracy supporters pressing for direct political dialogue with central government officials in the capital.

The students arrived at the airport at 3.30pm, and were greeted by about 100 supporters holding yellow umbrellas in the departure hall. About a dozen anti-Occupy protesters were also present.

Supporters of Federation of Students representatives hold yellow umbrellas inside Hong Kong International Airport on Saturday. Photo: EPA

At about 3.50pm, the three student leaders were escorted by police into the immigration area through the staff entrance.

But before their baggage was scanned, they were stopped by several police officers and other people in uniforms, who took them aside and questioned them for almost half an hour. They were then taken out of the immigration area through the staff exit.

Before they entered the immigration area, Chow, secretary-general of the federation, said he could not accept the possibility of being denied entry. “We have exhausted all the channels to try to communicate with the government officials. The visit is the only way we could resort to.”

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a lawmaker and former security secretary, said it was “entirely discretionary” for mainland authorities to revoke entry documents belonging to visitors who were “not bona fide”.

“The students are just staging a show. Their attitude is poor,” Ip said. She noted that President Xi Jinping was not in Beijing, nor did the students make an appointment with state leaders, asking: “Did the students really treat their country as their home? It’s a home-return permit.”

She said the trio’s case could be compared with that of Edward Snowden, as the UK government told worldwide carriers not to take the man whom the US government alleged to be a leaker of state secrets there. “Any immigration authority has the right to do so [to] suspected terrorists, criminals or troublemakers,” Ip said.


Britain’s spy chief: Facebook, Twitter help terrorists, criminals

November 4, 2014

Britain: New GCHQ director Robert Hannigan accuses some Silicon Valley companies of becoming ‘the command and control networks of choice’ for terrorists

Robert Hannigan takes over as Director at GCHQ

Robert Hannigan (right) took on the role of director of GCHQ (left) last month after a distinguished career as a senior diplomat Photo: Crown copyright

Technology giants such as Facebook and Twitter have become “the command and control networks of choice” for terrorists and criminals but are “in denial” about the scale of the problem, the new head of GCHQ has said.

Robert Hannigan said that Isil terrorists in Syria and Iraq have “embraced the web” and are using it to intimidate people and inspire “would-be jihadis” from all over the world to join them.

He urged the companies to work more closely with the security services, arguing that it is time for them to confront “some uncomfortable truths” and that privacy is not an “absolute right”.

He suggested that unless US technology companies co-operate, new laws will be needed to ensure that intelligence agencies are able to track and pursue terrorists.

His comments represent some of the most outspoken criticism yet of US technology giants by the security services, and come amid growing tensions following leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In an article for the Financial Times, Mr Hannigan said: “I understand why they [US technology companies] have an uneasy relationship with governments. They aspire to be neutral conduits of data and to sit outside or above politics.

“But increasingly their services not only host the material of violent extremism or child exploitation, but are the routes for the facilitation of crime and terrorism.

“However much they may dislike it, they have become the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us.

“GCHQ is happy to be part of a mature debate on privacy in the digital age. But privacy has never been an absolute right and the debate about this should not become a reason for postponing urgent and difficult decisions.”

Mr Hannigan took on the role of director of GCHQ last month after a distinguished career as a senior diplomat. He was appointed to the role in the wake of the Snowden scandal to help bolster the public profile of the organisation and take a more active role in the debate about its work.

He highlighted the eruption of extremist jihadi material online on websites such as Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp, and said that terrorists are now able to hide their identities using encryption tools which were once only available to states.

He said that in the past, al-Qaida and its terrorists have used the internet as a place to anonymously distribute material or “meet in dark spaces”.

Isil, however, has taken a much more direct approach, using social networking services to get their messages across in a “language their peers understand”.

He highlighted the production values of videos in which they attack towns, fire weapons and detonate explosives, saying that they have a “self-conscious online gaming quality”.

He said that even the groups grotesque videos of beheadings highlight the sophistication of their use of social media. “This time the ‘production values’ were high and the videos stopped short of showing the actual beheading,” he said.

“They have realised that too much graphic violence can be counter productive in their target audience and that by self-censoring they can stay just the right side of the rules of social media sites, capitalising on western freedom of expression.”

He highlighted the use of popular terms on Twitter to broaden their appeal such as World Cup and Ebola. He said that during the advance on Mosul in Iraq the jihadists were sending 40,000 tweets a day.

Their cause has been helped by Mr Snowden as they copy his high level of encryption, with some programmes and apps even advertised as “Snowden approved”. He said: “There is no doubt that young foreign fighters have learned and benefited from the leaks of the past two years”.

Mr Hannigan said that families have “strong views” about the ethics of companies and do not expect the social networks they use to “facilitate murder or child abuse”.

The Conservatives are pushing for a communications Bill to give the security services greater access to internet communications. The move has been blocked by the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Hannigan said: “For our part, intelligence agencies such as GCHQ need to enter the public debate about privacy. I think we have a good story to tell.

“As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the spectacular creation that is the world wide web, we need a new deal between democratic governments and the technology companies in the area of protecting our citizens.

“It should be a deal rooted in the democratic values we share. That means addressing some uncomfortable truths. Better to do it now than in the aftermath of greater violence.”

Facebook rules state that organisations with a record of terrorist or violent criminal activity are not allowed to “maintain a presence” on the social network or post content in support of terrorist groups.

The company, which has declined to make an official statement, says it already works with law enforcement agencies and will disclose information either in good faith if it will prevent harm or upon court order.

Other US internet companies including Google, Twitter and Microsoft declined to comment.

Hong Kong: China’s dumping ground

October 23, 2014
Supporting deportees from China is not a financial and social burden that Hong Kong should accept.

Police Otherwise Occupied: Ending up just metres away from POlice Force HQ in Wanchai, China ejects its unwanted in HK. Photo: GAW


In the past year I have had the opportunity to enjoy a few evenings in Wan Chai with friends and associates. We have observed and indeed, commented on, the increasing number of African prostitutes parading the streets under the watchful eyes of African men, who are clearly controlling these women. I have also experienced an increase in men from the Indian subcontinent approaching me offering to sell drugs, stolen property or counterfeit goods. This kind of street crime and exploitation in Hong Kong has conspicuously increased over the past several years. Why has this happened, and why is the Hong Kong Government failing to take action?
Over the past decade China has made a strategic policy decision to increase trade and development with Africa. To encourage bilateral trade and increase Chinese influence, a decision was made to facilitate increased visitation between Africa and China. Guangzhou is a favored destination for many West Africans, particularly from Nigeria, to visit the low cost textile and manufacturing factories and bring merchandise back to sell in Africa. Unfortunately, there are not many direct flights between West Africa and Guangzhou, so many African travelers enter China via Hong Kong.
Stay in China….
After their arrival in China, many of these visitors decide to stay, notwithstanding the terms of their visa requirements. Many even destroy or “lose” their passports. When they are detained and found to be in China illegally, they are expelled by Chinese authorities to their last port of entry, which is usually Hong Kong. Once in Hong Kong, many of these scofflaws, without passports or means to support themselves, claim hardship or refugee status, inviting Hong Kong taxpayers to provide housing, financial support and medical care.
… dumped in Hong Kong
No fair minded, reasonable person would take issue with legitimate refugee claimants being assisted while they attempt to integrate into Hong Kong society. The problem is that many refugees in Hong Kong are not fleeing torture or political persecution. They have arrived in Hong Kong chasing economic opportunity in China, and then disregard Chinese law when it was not in their best economic interest. Supporting deportees from China is not a financial and social burden that Hong Kong should accept. More importantly, these opportunistic “refugees of convenience” detract from the credibility, resources, and compassion offered to legitimate refugees who deserve our full support.
UNHCR’s mission creep
The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) has been established in Hong Kong for several decades and was instrumental in the process of resettling some 70,000 Vietnamese boat people who fled to Hong Kong in the 1970’s. The UNHCR still operates in Hong Kong and, like similar non-profit organizations, they must justify their existence to remain relevant and funded. If there were no refugees or displaced persons in Hong Kong there would be no need for the UNHCR (HK) to exist.
Mission creep in Hong Kong is suspected when recent revelations show that the UNHCR assisted Edward Snowden to avoid criminal prosecution in the United States and facilitated his escape to Russia, a country that hardly has an admirable human rights record. Their mission becomes suspect, raising questions as to why Hong Kongers should bear the cost and risks of their actions.
It is also fair then to question the numbers of reported refugees seeking resettlement in Hong Kong. This refugee industry has a vested interest in perpetuating a problem that may not be as significant as we are led to believe.
Leadership lacking
Legislative and political leadership is needed to preserve the rights of legitimate refugee claimants and to manage the problems presented by the growing number of bogus refugee claimants in Hong Kong. In my view there has been a remarkable degree of moral cowardice on this issue.
It seems the Administration will continue to put decisions off to the courts to decide the fate of refugees. This appears to only benefit the legal industry, as taxpayers ultimately fund years of litigation and legal posturing as the cases languish in the courts. Hong Kong’s legislators should take a position and accept responsibility one way or the other for refugees and human rights. Instead, we are experiencing a rise of judicial activism in HK courts at the expense of the democratic values that so many in Hong Kong cherish. If Hong Kong people are content to have laws and financial obligations made by the judiciary alone, then why all the fuss about Beijing’s view regarding democracy in Hong Kong?
A job for politicians, not judges
It is not fair to legitimate refugees that they are forced into a base-level survival mode simply because Hong Kong has not developed a clear policy or process to adjudicate refugee claims. Hong Kong takes a piecemeal, inconsistent approach to the disposition of refugee claims, which appears arbitrary. This is inefficient, expensive and more importantly, corrosive to the quality of life of both refugees and Hong Kong citizens who yearn to enjoy an evening out without being hit on to buy drugs, women or stolen property.
The Hong Kong government has several options to address the ongoing drain on limited resources caused by illegitimate refugee claimants and foreign criminals.
To do #1: Stop them at the border
Firstly, those who merely transit through Hong Kong for entry into China should be turned back at the Chinese border, when the Chinese repatriate them back to Hong Kong. After all, their final destination was always China, who originally granted them an entry visa when they departed their home countries in the first place. China should bear responsibility for the cost of repatriating these people to their country of origin, not Hong Kong.
To do #2: House them in China
Secondly, since Hong Kong is only a city with limited space, individuals claiming refugee status should be temporarily domiciled in China in some of the vast empty apartment blocks that exist in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang, It would be cheaper for Hong Kong taxpayers to help subsidize these people while their refugee claims or rights to abode in Hong Kong are being assessed. Hong Kong is part of China, so if people wish to illegally enter Hong Kong, they should be willing to be housed in other parts of China while a determination is made as to their legal status in Hong Kong.
To do #3: Evict them or let them work
Finally, when undocumented individuals arrive in Hong Kong and claim refugee or persecuted persons status they should be immediately assessed by immigration officials to determine if there is a high or low likelihood that they will meet the criteria for resettlement elsewhere or whether they will meet the standards for admittance into Hong Kong. If they pose a security risk they should be immediately placed into custody and returned from whence they came. If they pose a low security risk and have a legitimate claim then the government should allow them the right to work in Hong Kong, so they can support themselves and not be forced into a criminal lifestyle to make ends meet.
It puzzles me that the Government is clear and definitive on its legal treatment of Filipino and Indonesian domestic workers who provide a valuable service to many Hong Kong families. Yet it fails to provide the same legal clarity to those who come to Hong Kong from other shores to take advantage of China’s economic prosperity without contributing in a positive manner to Hong Kong society.
Bill Majcher worked in finance before and after a 22 year career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police where he conducted deep undercover and covert operations and developed the RCMP’s response to terrorism post-September 11 and their Capital Markets Enforcement Team in Western Canada. More at

Resuming cyber security cooperation between China and the United States won’t be easy

October 19, 2014


China's State Councillor Yang Jiechi (L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk over tea during a day of meetings in Boston, Massachusetts October 18, 2014.      REUTERS/Brian Snyder

China’s State Councillor Yang Jiechi (L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk over tea during a day of meetings in Boston, Massachusetts October 18, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

(Reuters) – Resuming cyber security cooperation between China and the United States would be difficult because of “mistaken U.S. practices”, China’s top diplomat told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Cyber security is an irritant to bilateral ties. On Wednesday the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation said hackers it believed were backed by the Chinese government had launched more attacks on U.S. companies, a charge China rejected as unfounded.

In May, the United States charged five Chinese military officers with hacking American firms, prompting China to shut down a bilateral working group on cyber security.

A map of China is seen through a magnifying glass on a computer screen showing binary digits in Singapore in this January 2, 2014 photo illustration. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Yang Jiechi, a state councillor overseeing foreign affairs, told Kerry in Boston the United States “should take positive action to create necessary conditions for bilateral cyber security dialogue and cooperation to resume”, according to a statement seen on the Chinese Foreign Ministry website on Sunday.

“Due to mistaken U.S. practices, it is difficult at this juncture to resume Sino-U.S. cyber security dialogue and cooperation,” Yang was quoted as saying. The statement did not elaborate.

Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden has said the U.S. National Security Agency hacked into official network infrastructure at universities in China and Hong Kong.

China, repeatedly accused by the United States of hacking, has used Snowden’s allegations as ammunition to point the finger at Washington for hypocrisy.

(Reporting by Benjamin Kang Lim; editing by Andrew Roche)


Edward Snowden Film Likely To Embarrass Obama Administration

October 11, 2014

Citizen Four is the shocking doc about Edward Snowden made by Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. Just screened tonight was the two hour film will be released by the Weinstein Company this month. It doesn’t paint the Obama administration in a very good light as Snowden explains how the government has violated privacy rights on a massive scale.

Also the filmmakers clearly inducate that all roads lead to POTUS, a fairly serious accusation. There may be serious repercussions.

Then there’s the Hollywoodization of Snowden. The detail of how and why Snowden went about this is pretty surprising considering how the 29 year old former NSA employee says he wants his own privacy and not to be a celebrity. It’s instructive to see his evolution from eyeglass wearing nerd to contact lenses and moussed up hair sporting hero of his own thriller. It’s all very Tom Cruise. Even the beautiful girlfriend sets up housekeeping with him in Moscow. Nevertheless as the details of the NSA’s programs are revealed Snowden says, “This isn’t science fiction. It’s really happening.”.




At the end of the Laura Poitras doc, the famed informant registers shock over another who outranks him

By Seth Abramovitch, Chris O’Falt

The Hollywood Reporter

A second National Security Agency whistleblower exists within the ranks of government intelligence.

That bombshell comes toward the end of Citizenfour, a new documentary from filmmaker Laura Poitras about NSA informant Edward Snowden that had its world premiere on Friday at the New York Film Festival.

In the key scene, journalist Glenn Greenwald visits Snowden at a hotel room in Moscow. Fearing they are being taped, Greenwald communicates with Snowden via pen and paper.

While some of the exchanges are blurred for the camera, it becomes clear that Greenwald wants to convey that another government whistleblower — higher in rank than Snowden — has come forward.

The revelation clearly shocks Snowden, whose mouth drops open when he reads the details of the informant’s leak.

Also revealed by Greenwald is the fact that 1.2 million Americans are currently on a government watch-list. Among them is Poitras herself.

And the surprises don’t end there. Near the end of the film, which received a rousing standing ovation, it is revealed that Lindsay Mills, Snowden’s dancer girlfriend of 10 years, has been living with Snowden in Moscow.

When Poitras went to Moscow in July to show Snowden an early cut of the film, she shot footage of the two cooking dinner together, which appears in the final cut.

Snowden fled to Russia after the U.S. government revoked his passport and put pressure on other governments not to grant him asylum.

After spending 39 days in a Moscow airport, Snowden was granted a one-year asylum from President Vladimir Putin. He is now in the country on a three-year residency permit.

Poitras took the stage at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall following the screening, flanked by Greenwald, with whom she partnered on a pair of explosive stories in The Guardian and Washington Post about Snowden’s surveillance disclosures in June 2014.

Also joining them was Jeremy Scahill, their partner on the website The Intercept, and Snowden’s father and stepmother. Snowden’s father thanked Poitras for having made Citizenfour, which he deemed a “wonderful piece of work.”

Poitras kept her comments following the screening to a minimum, and thanked her crew and Snowden. Instead it was Greenwald and Scahill who did most of the talking, with Scahill at one point describing Poitras as “the most bad-ass director alive, period.”

Before the screening, Poitras told The Hollywood Reporter that she will never forget the moment when Snowden — who was so young Greenwald initially doubted his authenticity — said he was willing to go on the record with his allegations.

“One of the most intense moments was when Snowden told us his identity would not remain anonymous, and I knew that somebody was really, really putting their life on the line,” Poitras said.

A demonstrator holds a photograph of Edward Snowden

A demonstrator holds a sign with a photograph of Edward Snowden during 4 July celebrations in 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photograph: Brian Snyder/REUTERS
From The Guardian
Lindsay Mills, girlfriend of Edward SnowdenLindsay Mills, the girlfriend of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, in Hawaii. Photograph: Splash/Luis Silos III

The mystery of the whereabouts of Edward Snowden’s long-time girlfriend is solved in a documentary that premiered in New York on Friday night: she has been living with the national security whistleblower in Russia since July.

The surprise revelation in the documentary, filmed by Laura Poitras, upends the widespread assumption that Snowden had deserted Lindsay Mills and that she, in a fit of pique, fled Hawaii where they had been living to stay with her parents in mainland US.

Since Snowden, a former NSA contractor, outed himself last year as being behind the biggest leak in US intelligence history, Mills has remained silent, giving no interviews or any hints of her feelings on the subject of her boyfriend or his actions.

The two-hour long documentary, Citizenfour, shows Mills living in Russia with Snowden.

When the Guardian met Snowden in Moscow in July, Snowden suggested the relationship was more complex than the view constantly recycled in the media of a woman abandoned and hinted that the two were not in fact estranged.

Citizenfour offers a fly-on-the wall account of Snowden. Poitras filmed him at the Mira hotel in Hong Kong last year during interviews with journalists that resulted in a series of stories in the Guardian about the extent of surveillance by the US and British intelligence agencies as well as the internet and telecom companies. The revelations started a worldwide debate about the balance between surveillance and privacy.

Poitras captures the tension in his room at the Mira – where then-Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald and I interviewed him – and in his final minutes at the hotel before he fled after being tipped off that hordes of media were about to arrive. She also filmed at the Guardian in London ahead of publication of one of the most explosive of the stories arising from Snowden’s revelations, and in Moscow, where Snowden is now in exile.

Snowden has been reluctant to talk about his personal life, preferring the media focus to be on wider debate about surveillance rather than him. But Poitras’s portrayal is both personal and sympathetic.

In his first comment about the documentary, which Poitras had shown to him in advance, Snowden told the Guardian: “I hope people won’t see this as a story about heroism. It’s actually a story about what ordinary people can do in extraordinary circumstances.”

Snowden was working as an NSA contractor in Hawaii where Mills joined him. A dancer, she posted many details and photographs about herself and him on the web.

She was still in Hawaii when news broke from Hong Kong that he was the whistleblower. Days earlier, authorities, suspicious about his prolonged absence from work, had visited their home.

On her blog, subtitled, ‘Adventures of a world-travelling, pole-dancing superhero,’ she wrote that she felt “sick, exhausted and carrying the weight of the world”. Shortly afterwards, she took the blog down.

The two appear to have been together since at least 2009, living part of the time near Baltimore before moving to Hawaii in 2012.


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