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China confronts U.S. envoy over cyber-spying accusations

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

China confronts U.S. envoy over cyber-spying accusations
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: China summoned the U.S. ambassador after the United States accused five Chinese military officers of hacking into American companies to steal trade secrets, warning Washington it could take further action, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The U.S. Ambassador to China, Max Baucus, met with Zheng Zeguang, assistant foreign minister, on Monday shortly after the United States charged the five Chinese, accusing them of hacking into American nuclear, metal and solar companies to steal trade secrets.

Zheng “protested” the actions by the United States, saying the indictment had seriously harmed relations between both countries, the foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.

Zheng told Baucus that depending on the development of the situation, China “will take further action on the so-called charges by the United States”.

It was the first criminal hacking charge that the United States has filed against specific foreign officials, and follows a steady increase in public criticism and private confrontation, including at a summit last year between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The indictment is likely to further roil relations between China and the United States. Besides cyber-hacking, Washington and Beijing have grappled over a range of issues, including human rights, trade disputes and China’s growing military assertiveness over seas contested with its neighbors.

“The Chinese government and military and its associated personnel have never conducted or participated in the theft of trade secrets over the Internet,” the foreign ministry quoted Zheng as telling Baucus.

Zheng told Baucus that the U.S. attitude to Internet security was “overbearing and hypocritical” and urged the United States to give China a clear explanation on reports that Washington has long spied on the Chinese government, businesses, universities and individuals.

The U.S. Embassy to China spokesman, Nolan Barkhouse, confirmed the meeting but declined to provide more details.

China’s Ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, also “made solemn representations” to the State Department on Monday.

“The accusations that the United States have made against these Chinese officials are purely fictitious and extremely absurd,” Cui was quoted as saying by the state-run China News Service said.

China’s defense ministry summoned the American military attache on Tuesday to protest what they said were actions “that seriously violated norms governing international relations and for seriously slandering the image of the Chinese army”.

DOUBLE STANDARDS

The angry reaction from Beijing is likely to be the first major test for Baucus, who arrived in Beijing in March, as he seeks to balance U.S. interests with the desire for more economic cooperation with China.

China is the United States’ biggest foreign creditor. As of February, China held $1.27 trillion in U.S. Treasury bonds, according to Treasury Department data.

“If the case is not withdrawn, I expect the Chinese government to retaliate,” said Jin Canrong, associate dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University in Beijing.

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The majority of China’s Internet users are now furious because they think the United States has “double standards” on spying, Jin said, adding that negative domestic public opinion would have a detrimental effect on Sino-U.S. relations.

The leaks by National Security Administration contractor Edward Snowden have given China grounds for accusing the United States of infiltrating Chinese companies and government offices.

The foreign ministry said it would suspend the activities of a Sino-U.S. working group on cyber issues. The defense ministry issued a similarly pointed statement on Tuesday, saying the accusations contained “ulterior motives”.

“Suspending the operations of a bilateral group on cyber affairs is a reasonable start, but more countermeasures should be prepared in case Washington obstinately sticks to the wrong track,” state news agency Xinhua said in a commentary.

When asked about how China could retaliate against the United States, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing that “it is the United States that should take actions, correct its mistake and withdraw the decision”.

Skeptics said U.S. authorities would not be able to arrest those indicted because Beijing would not hand them over. Still, the move would prevent the individuals from traveling to the United States or other countries that have an extradition agreement with the United States.

U.S. Federal prosecutors said the suspects targeted companies including Alcoa Inc, Allegheny Technologies Inc, United States Steel Corp, Toshiba Corp unit Westinghouse Electric Co, the U.S. subsidiaries of SolarWorld AG, and a steel workers’ union.

According to the indictment, all five defendants worked with Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army “, which had been “hired” by Chinese state-owned companies to provide information technology services” including assembling a database of corporate intelligence. The Chinese companies were not named.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Drugs

2 million methamphetamine pills found in parked truck

Caitlin Ashworth

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2 million methamphetamine pills found in parked truck | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

Police found more than 2 million methamphetamine pills in a truck parked at petrol station at Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Bang Saphan Noy district. Police are still looking for the driver.

The Narcotics Suppression Bureau alerted local police about a truck in the area suspected of trafficking drugs. Police spotted a truck that matched the description and saw it turning in to a petrol station.

Police followed, but by the time they reached the vehicle, it was parked and the driver was no where in sight. Officers suspect the driver fled the scene.

The truck had a number of cardboard boxes containing thousands of methamphetamine pills. Police say all together they seized 2,002,000 pills. They also found a bank deposit passbook, 2 identification cards and other documents. The evidence was passed on to the Narcotics Suppression Bureau who are now working on the case.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Hua Hin

Hua Hin schools close after students get fever, families crossed Myanmar border

Caitlin Ashworth

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Hua Hin schools close after students get fever, families crossed Myanmar border | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS

Class is cancelled for a week at 2 schools after some students reported a high fever. School officials discovered many Burmese students and parents have been crossing the Thai-Myanmar border. The Thai government recently told immigration police to patrol the country’s natural borders such as along jungles and rivers after Myanmar reported a spike in coronavirus cases.

The 2 Prachuap Khiri Khan schools – Anun School and Wang Ta Krai School – will be closed until at least September 7. Some of the students need to quarantine for 14 days before returning to school. Public health officials have taken fluid samples to test for Covid-19. The results have not yet been released at this stage.

The province is on the Malay peninsula and borders Myanmar’s Tanintharyi region. The community has a large Burmese population. Out of the 576 students at Anun School, 300 of them are migrants. Out of the 310 students at the Wang Ta Krai School, 45 of them are migrants.

When students from the Anun School students did not show up in class due to high fever, school officials looked into their case and learned that their families had recently returned from areas around the Thai-Myanmar border. Wang Ta Krai School has not reported any suspected cases.

Most of the cases in the recent spike in Myanmar involve the western Rhakine state, on the other side of Myanmar from the Thai border.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Air Asia and VietJet add some extra domestic routes

The Thaiger

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Air Asia and VietJet add some extra domestic routes | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai VietJet adds a BKK-Nakhon Si Thammarat flight to their schedule

Whilst much of the world waits to get back into Thailand, the local airlines are starting to flex their domestic muscles and add new routes.

Thai AirAsia is launching 2 new routes from Chiang Mai, starting yesterday, offering a one-way fare for as low as 790 baht on flights to Hua Hin, and Udon Thani in the northeast. The cheapie fares will only run until August 16, or when they’re booked out. The fares will cover travel from today up to March 26 next year.

Thai Air Asia is attempting to bump up its direct domestic travel from Chiang Mai that will avoid doing a stop-over in Bangkok for these new routes.

The new flight from Chiang Mai to the coastal town of Hua Hin is targeting Thais and expats living in the north who want a seaside break and couldn’t be bothered sitting in a bus for 24 hours.

The bi-weekly flights depart every Friday and Sunday which gives travellers at both ends of the route an excuse for weekend travel. Thai Air Asia are now servicing 30 domestic routes that started again in May when Thai-registered airlines restarted limited domestic services.

But the locally-based airlines are still not allowed to fly internationally, and, based on comments from the TAT, that may not happen until early 2021. A deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand said last Friday there was “no signs to show international tourism would reopen this year and even Chinese New Year in February 2021 was now in jeopardy… It is not a rosy picture.”

Air Asia and VietJet add some extra domestic routes | News by The Thaiger

 

Meanwhile Thai Vietjet has started a new service from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport to Nakhon Si Thammarat in Thailand’s Deep South.

The first flight landed over the weekend to a water salute welcome at Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport. Thai Vietjet’s latest service into southern Thailand operates daily but they’re hoping to ramp up to four flights a day in October.

A promotional fare of just 199 baht, excluding tax and fees, is on sale at www.vietjetair.com.

Air Asia and VietJet add some extra domestic routes | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: TTRWeekly

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