Editor’s note for Wednesday, September 16, 2020

A note from the editor of today's SupChina Access newsletter.

My thoughts today:

The big story today is the U.S. freeze on sales to Huawei. But there was another move against Beijing: The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced indictments charging five “computer hackers, all of whom were residents and nationals of the People’s Republic of China, with computer intrusions affecting over 100 victim companies in the United States and abroad.” The alleged victims of the hacking are:

  • Software development companies, computer hardware manufacturers, and telecommunications providers.
  • Social media and video game companies.
  • Nonprofit organizations, universities, think tanks, and foreign governments.
  • Pro-democracy politicians and activists in Hong Kong.

“Two Malaysian businessmen who conspired with two of the Chinese hackers to profit from computer intrusions targeting the video game industry in the United States and abroad” are also named in the DOJ announcement.

As BBC journalist Zhaoyin Feng notes on Twitter: Three of the Chinese nationals charged “work for a company called ‘Chengdu 404 Network Technology,’ quite a name… The company’s website is still up.”

404 is, of course, an internet browser error message that occurs when the website or web page you are trying to reach cannot be found on the server. But in China, you most frequently get the 404 message when a web page has been deleted by censors, or because you are trying to view a website hosted outside of China that has been blocked by the Great Firewall.

Our word of the day is a single spark can start a prairie fire (星星之火可以燎原 xīngxīng zhī huǒ kěyǐ liáo yuán). It’s an old Chinese saying that Máo Zédōng 毛泽东 popularized. It is used in a Sina News article (in Chinese) published today about the latest U.S. sanctions on Huawei.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief