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China's state media wants Apple and Google to be 'severely punished' for NSA spying

Sharif Sakr
06.04.14
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Today has seen a sudden spike in anti-American sentiment in Chinese state-owned media, with Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook all being described as "pawns" of the US government (aka the "high-level hooligan"). Articles in the China Daily and People's Daily call for these companies to be "severely punished" for their alleged roles in the PRISM scandal, but there's no obvious trigger to explain the timing of their publication. One possible factor is today's date: June 4th marks the bloody end of the Tiananmen Square protest of 1989, when government forces killed hundreds of pro-democracy activists in the streets of Beijing. Google and other sources of international news are being subjected to extra censorship in order to control discussion of the Tiananmen anniversary within China, which implies that these outlets are currently even more irksome to the Communist Party than they usually are.

An excerpt from the People's Daily:

"U.S. companies including Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc. are all coordinating with the PRISM program to monitor China... To resist the naked Internet hegemony, we will draw up international regulations, and strengthen technology safeguards, but we will also severely punish the pawns of the villain."

Another possible explanation for the blanket attack is that fresh evidence of privacy abuses has come to light in China, perhaps involving the NSA and its (unhealthy) relationship with commercial web services. However, no new allegations have been detailed, and Apple and other companies continue to deny that the NSA has backdoor access to their data centers. Alternatively, the wave of press coverage could simply be a response to America's recent scolding of a Chinese military cyber-espionage unit, or part of a wider governmental push for the use of homegrown rather than US-made technology.

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