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19 Dec, 2014

Chinese commentator to U.S.: Criticizing is easier than self-criticism

By Chen Weihua

Washington DC, (China Daily) 2014-12-12 – Now we all know why it’s never the United States, but the rest of the world that engages in torture. It’s simply because the US doesn’t call it torture, it calls it enhanced interrogation techniques, or EIT.

But no matter how much nicer it sounds, EIT is heinous and brutal torture as the Tuesday release of a Senate report on interrogations conducted by the CIA makes clear.

In fact, the US is very adept at using such euphemisms and obfuscation, and not just for torture. For instance, some American and Australian pundits launched a crusade against China’s cyberpolicy and practice during a seminar at the Brookings Institution on Tuesday.

In defending the cyberespionage conducted by the US National Security Agency on foreign companies such as Petrobras of Brazil, James Mulvenon, vice-president of the Intelligence Division of the Defense Group Inc, said it was for national security purposes and not to give the information to individual US companies.

This was clearly not what Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff believed when she said that if proved, this would be tantamount to industrial espionage and have no security justification.

Even if the US government does not give the stolen information to US companies, it could use it to its advantage in decision-making. The same is true of the NSA hacking into China’s telecom equipment giant Huawei Technologies and Chinese universities as revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

After Snowden’s disclosures, few countries will want the US to dominate the rule-making for global cybersecurity. However, that does not mean the US, with its superpower mentality, is truly willing or ready to listen to others and willing to let others participate in this process, especially those with differing views.

This was demonstrated again on Tuesday. Despite my respect for the Brookings Institution and its expertise on China, the seminar on cyberpolicy in China lacked a panelist from China: it was all Americans and Australians trying to read the minds of Chinese in a way that looked foreign.

There is no doubt that China and the US have major differences, even on their shared interests. For example, the two nations vowed to collaborate in fighting terrorism in cyberspace. But to the US, it seems that attacks in the US are by terrorists, while those in China may or may not be.

Also, when the panelists on Tuesday expressed deep concern at the alleged cyberespionage conducted by the Chinese, no one acknowledged that the NSA is doing this on an unparalleled scale that dwarfs China and the rest of the world put together. The NSA agents do not just sit there drinking coffee or sipping tea.

Without offering any evidence, Mulvenon also accused the Chinese government of snooping at a recent international conference in China, but he failed to mention that according to Snowden’s disclosures that is a common practice for the US government.

It’s actually much worse than that. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was so shocked on learning that her cellphone had been tapped by the NSA that she even proposed to build up a European communications network to counter the mass surveillance conducted by NSA and GCHQ, its British collaborator.

It is no surprise that people like Mulvenon, who are used to pointing fingers at others, do not see the NSA’s activities against other nations as unacceptable. It is like the release of the CIA torture report, many US politicians and the CIA chiefs, past and present, are still trying hard to justify gross human rights violations of theirs.

No one is denying that China has a lot to learn and improve in cyber – governance, but for the US to try and discredit China while ignoring its own wrongdoings is just like calling torture enhanced interrogation techniques. It’s indulging in self-glorification.

The author, based in Washington, is deputy editor of China Daily USA. chenweihua@chinadailyusa.com