Big Brother is Bul­ly­ing Ev­ery­one

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of these ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

As far as I can re­call, the word ‘coun­try' can re­fer to var­i­ous en­ti­ties; it can be a state or na­tion as in 'What Asian coun­tries have you vis­ited?' It can be the peo­ple of a dis­trict, state, or na­tion: 'The whole coun­try backed the pres­i­dent in her de­ci­sion.' It can be the land of one's birth or cit­i­zen­ship: 'Lev­ern made us all proud of our coun­try.' Or it can sim­ply re­fer to ru­ral dis­tricts, in­clud­ing farm­land, and other sparsely pop­u­lated ar­eas, as op­posed to cities or towns: 'She lives in the coun­try out­side La­borie.'

But for the coun­try that is Main­land China the word means some­thing else and that coun­try is flex­ing its mus­cles to make sure the whole world un­der­stands the word their way. China is pres­sur­ing air­lines around the world to toe the Main­land's po­lit­i­cal line. Air­lines such as the Aus­tralian car­rier Qan­tas, and U.S. car­ri­ers Amer­i­can Air­lines and United Air­lines have re­port­edly re­ceived let­ters bear­ing threats against them if they do not stop re­fer­ring to Tai­wan as a coun­try. The let­ters from China's Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity says the com­pa­nies will be re­ferred to the rel­e­vant cy­ber-se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties if they do not com­ply.

Now what are Main­land China's rel­e­vant cy­ber-se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties, and what could be the con­se­quences of be­ing re­ferred to them? In these times of In­ter­net hack­ing by in­ter­na­tional agen­cies I can­not but feel an icy chill go down my spine at these threats. Imag­ine a planeload of pas­sen­gers trav­el­ling from Syd­ney in Aus­tralia to Taipei in Tai­wan on a Qan­tas Air­bus or Boe­ing air­liner, dis­ap­pear­ing over the ocean as a re­sult of the in­ter­ven­tion of Main­land China's cy­ber-se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties! We all know that com­put­ers guide planes these days from push back, to taxy­ing, to take-off and land­ing. How dif­fi­cult would it be for some murderous tech­ni­cian to hack into a plane's au­topi­lot and cause it to change course or sim­ply dis­ap­pear with­out trace, leav­ing no clues be­hind?

In Jan­uary, China de­manded an apol­ogy from Delta Air Lines for list­ing Tai­wan and Ti­bet as coun­tries on its web­site. We are all well aware of Main­land China's ob­ses­sion with Tai­wan's global recog­ni­tion and suc­cess in mat­ters of trade, busi­ness, re­search and in­no­va­tion, so much so that the del­i­cate diplo­matic danc­ing of switch­ing and steal­ing part­ners hardly mat­ters any more. Tai­wan qui­etly goes about her busi­ness of forg­ing al­liances, es­tab­lish­ing trade links, and im­prov­ing the world, de­spite the snap­ping of Chi­nese dogs at her heels.

We all re­mem­ber the Malaysia Air­lines 370, a sched­uled in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­ger flight that dis­ap­peared on 8 March 2014 while fly­ing from Malaysia to its des­ti­na­tion in China. The crew last com­mu­ni­cated with air traf­fic con­trol around 38 min­utes af­ter take-off when the flight was over the South China Sea. The air­craft was lost from radar screens min­utes later, but was tracked by mil­i­tary radar for an­other hour, de­vi­at­ing west­wards from its planned flight path. All 227 pas­sen­gers and 12 crew aboard were lost. This mas­sive fail­ure of avi­a­tion tech­nol­ogy could, some might think, be the re­sult of some med­dling by an un­known cy­ber-se­cu­rity au­thor­ity. And that's all I have to say about that. But it's not only air­lines that are af­fected; Mar­riott ex­pe­ri­enced the same is­sues ear­lier this year when the ho­tel chain was forced to shut down its app and web­site for a week as fi­nan­cial pun­ish­ment af­ter send­ing an email that listed Hong Kong, Ma­cau and Tai­wan as coun­tries.

Part of China's mo­tive, it seems, is to en­sure that in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion for Tai­wan doesn't grow. If this is so, then it is fail­ing mis­er­ably. Tai­wan, a coun­try of ‘only' 23 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants, al­ready oc­cu­pies a po­si­tion among the top 25 economies of the world. China is scared, quite sim­ply, of Tai­wan's eco­nomic might and is jeal­ous of the ad­mi­ra­tion shown to her by the global com­mu­nity, quite apart from the petty niceties of diplo­matic recog­ni­tion that beach ven­dors can buy and sell at will. The Peo­ples Repub­lic of China fears most of all that if com­pa­nies and coun­tries of­fi­cially rec­og­nize the demo­cratic is­land of Tai­wan as its own coun­try, China's claim to rule di­min­ishes, which is why the Chi­nese Bully con­tin­ues its cam­paign to bribe small is­land states to sell their pride and dig­nity for a some­times huge hand­ful of sil­ver and dol­lars and change their al­le­giance from Tai­wan to China.

In a state­ment, the White House said the Chi­nese Civil Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion had sent a let­ter to 36 for­eign and U.S. air car­ri­ers de­mand­ing they change how they re­fer to Tai­wan, Hong Kong and Ma­cau. In the novel 1984, pub­lished in 1948, Or­well in­tro­duced a Big Brother who watched over all that his sub­jects did, in­clud­ing their pri­vate lives and thoughts. The Peo­ples Repub­lic of China still strives to be the Big Brother in some fan­tasy world in which every na­tion, every coun­try, bows down be­fore it. I think it might be time for the Cit­i­zens of the World to don T-shirts pro­claim­ing Tai­wan Pride, or if they want to avoid up­set­ting the bully, Taipei Pride. What a farce the whole thing is!

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