What does the world’s fastest supercomputer; a Chinese Dissident and America’s top secret Internet-phone Surveillance System have in common?

June 18, 2013

Recently three revealing news items caught my attention. The first was about Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese dissident who fled China to become a visiting scholar at New York University.

I understand Mr. Chen doesn’t speak a word of English and was self-educated in China.  Therefore, his one-year job as a visiting scholar at NYU could be seen as a form of welfare offering him a way to earn money just by hanging around sharing his story of how horrible China’s government is.

Now that his one-year visiting scholarship job is ending, he is accusing NYU of being pressured by China to dump him. Is this an example of biting the hand that feeds you? I’m not surprised. Who wants to be unemployed?

“Chen, who has been blind from childhood and taught himself law, was a campaigner for farmers and disabled citizens. He exposed forced abortions in China before he was placed under house arrest in Shandong province. … NYU pointed to a PBS television interview in May 2012 with Cohen, who had said Chen would be at NYU for a year at most while he adjusted to a new country.” Source: Reuters

Then again, maybe the truth about Mr. Chen is that he’s just a paranoid guy with a wild imagination who likes to complain and now that he’s living in the US, he has to find something to complain about here. Maybe the Chinese really locked Chen up because they grew tired of hearing his unsupported, alleged complaints.

The second bit of news was China asking the United States to explain its Internet surveillance program: “China made its first substantive comments on Monday to reports of U.S. surveillance of the Internet, demanding that Washington explain its monitoring programs to the international community.

“Several nations, including U.S. allies, have reacted angrily to revelations by an ex-CIA employee over a week ago that U.S. authorities had tapped the servers of internet companies for personal data.”  Source: CNBC

I think there has to be another reason China is making this demand.  Either China wants the world to see that its biggest critic for Internet surveillance in China, the United States, also spies on its citizens and was keeping it a secret, or—then again—maybe China wants to learn from the United States how to build a better Internet surveillance system.  After all, the US is known for its innovation.

The third bit of news was about China’s new supercomputer. CNBC reported that “China has built the world’s fastest supercomputer, almost twice as fast as the previous U.S. holder and underlining the country’s rise as a science and technology powerhouse.”

It’s no secret—I think (no leak intended)—that the United States uses supercomputers to monitor its Internet surveillance system and eavesdrop on citizens’ phone calls and e-mails. And now that China has a super computer twice as powerful as anything in the United States, China may want to put it to good use just like the US is doing to keep a closer eye on its citizens—and so-called paranoid dissidents like Chen Guangcheng.

That way China will be able to move faster and grant these dissidents immigration status to the US where they will seek political asylum and be given positions as visiting scholars who don’t have to teach classes and who get paid just to hang around and socialize badmouthing China.

That should help divert the attention of America’s citizens off of their own government’s Internet and phone surveillance systems and back on China where the US government wants it to be focused.

Discover Liu Xiaobo’s Manifesto, Charter 08


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel, Running with the Enemy, was awarded an honorable mention in general fiction at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival.

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The Illusion of Freedom – Part 2/4

May 8, 2012

Years ago, I was having dinner in a restaurant in Westwood, California and witnessed a grimy homeless person across the street rummaging in a trash can. He found a Styrofoam container full of food and was so happy to have something to eat that he found a shady spot under a tree and rolled around on some cool grass before he started eating the found food. Freedom to him may have been having no job, not paying taxes, and not having to worry about a mortgage or rent. I’ve met homeless people that claim this is the reason they stay homeless—for the abstract sense of freedom it brings.

The last element that led me to write this series of posts was an e-mail a friend sent with a link to Carolina Journal Online.com, which reported that “State Threatens to Shut Down Nutrition Blogger.”

It seems that Steve Cooksey, an American citizen, took advantage of what he believed were his freedom of speech rights in North Carolina and blogged about beating diabetes through diet and exercise.

However, now he may face up to 120 days in jail, because in North Carolina, it is a misdemeanor to “practice dietetics or nutrition” without a license. According to the law, “practicing” nutrition includes “assessing the nutritional needs of individuals and groups” and “providing nutrition counseling,” which it seems Cooksey may have done with his Blog.

In addition, it is illegal to use the word “cure” in the United States unless the F.D.A. gives you permission.

HBO Documentary of Freedom of Speech in five parts – Part 2

“Just talking about curing an illness is literally a criminal offense, because only the F.D.A. can grant permission to use the word ‘cure’, since this word supposedly constitutes making a “medical claim”, and F.D.A. contends that anything producing a positive health effect is automatically a (“unapproved”) drug, under their regulation. This is not a hypothetical risk either. There are doctors and laymen in prison now for curing diseases.” Source: The Health Wyze Report

Freedom Forum.org asks and the answers, Does the (US) First Amendment mean anyone can say anything at any time and the answer is “NO” because the US Supreme Court rejected an interpretation of speech without limits.

Over the years, the courts decided that a few other public interests—for example, national security, justice or personal safety—override freedom of speech.

In fact, the US First Amendment does not protect statements that are uttered to provoke violence or incite illegal action, and jurisdictions may write statutes to punish verbal acts if the statutes are “carefully drawn so as not unduly to impair liberty of expression”.

If the US can restrict freedom of speech in the national interest, why can’t China? When China locks up someone, such as Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese Activist, China’s government may feel that what he is saying publicly might provoke violence or incite illegal actions.

To learn more about Chen Guangcheng and the alleged accusations made against China in his case, see NPR’s Blind Chinese Activist Reported Under U.S. Protection.

What do you consider freedom and does it really exist?

Continued on May 9, 2012 in  The Illusion of Freedom – Part 3 or return to Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Are China’s Dissidents in Danger?

May 6, 2012

This week much of the Western media has been busy touting fears for the safety and future of China’s blind dissident Chen Guangcheng.

A Reuters report by Andrew Quinn and Chris Buckley fulfilled the China bashing and fear mongering of the week by reporting in the lead paragraph that Cheng “feared for his life just hours after leaving the U.S. Embassy under a deal that Washington had hoped would defuse the crises with Beijing.”

However, what are the odds that Chen should fear for his life for protesting China’s urban one-child rule and abortion policies?

To find out what might really happen to Chen and other dissidents in China, let’s examine what happened with a few high profile cases in the past and ignore the alleged language designed to paint China’s leaders/government in an evil light.

According to the record, none of China’s dissidents since 1976 have been executed and only one is serving a life sentence. In fact, if Chen ends up in the US, that is not uncommon.

For Example:

1. In 1989, Tan Baiqiao was arrested for spreading counterrevolutionary propaganda; inciting counterrevolutionary activities; defection to the enemy, and treason— but due to international pressure, Tan was released and reached the U.S. in 1992.

2. In 2002, Cai Lujun, a businessman and writer was arrested for “incitement to subversion and eventually sought political asylum in Taiwan in 2007.

3. In 1995, Wang Dan was sentenced to 11 years in prison but was released on medical parole to the US in 1998 and is currently living in Taiwan.

4. In 1998, Wang Youcai was sentenced to 11 years in prison for subversion but was released and exiled to the United States in 2004.

5. In 1979, Wei Jingsheng an electrician was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison for passing military secretes.  He was released from prison for medical reasons and deported to the US in 1997.

In fact, there are laws in most countries that support what China does with its political dissidents.

For example, in the United States Code, 18 U.S.C. & 2385, “Advocating overthrow of Government by force or violence”:

“Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government; or

“Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so; or

“Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence; or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof—

“Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.”

In addition, on May 4, 2012, the New York Times got it right with this headline, For China, a Dissident in Exile Is One Less Headache Back Home

The NY Times says, “Based on past experience, China is often all too pleased to see its most nettlesome dissidents go into exile, where they almost invariably lose their ability to grab headlines in the West and to command widespread sympathy both in China and abroad.”

In fact, if you read the US law carefully, it may be illegal in America to advocate the overthrow of another country’s government—just read the first paragraph in bold print above.

Moreover, fifty-two countries are led by authoritarian governments ruling over more than a third of humanity, so if you have to live under an authoritarian government, which kind is best?  After all, everyone cannot live in Hong Kong, which is considered the freest economy in the world.  Hong Kong (part of China) is followed by Singapore, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland. The U.S. ranks tenth of more than 150 nations.  China is ranked 138. Sources: The Freest Nations on Earth and Heritage.org

In addition, according to Foreign Policy magazine, Joshua E. Keating, “found that single-party states—think China and Vietnam—are the most responsive to citizens’ demands, providing a higher quality of governance… the Chinese Communist Party has not lasted through the use of force alone, but also by making popular investments in China’s infrastructure and social services,” which has reduced poverty from more than 80% in 1949 to less than 13% today and increased the average lifespan from 35 years of age in 1949 to more than 75 today.

Recommended — A Snapshot of Democracy in Asia


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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