Bursting the PC Bubble: Members of Chinese Military Indicted by U.S. Government

by The Cowl Editor on February 13, 2020

National and Global News

Photo courtesy of freesvg.org.

by Matthew Mazzella ’20

News Staff

Four members of the Chinese military have been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for the hacking of Equifax credit reporting agency in 2017. 

The hackers stole the personal information of nearly 150 million Americans, including names, birthdays, and social security numbers. Deputy FBI Director David Bowdich said this breach is “the largest instance of state-sponsored theft in U.S. history.”

The charged parties include four members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s 54th Research Institute, which is a branch of the Chinese army. The hackers included Wu Zhiyong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke, and Liu Lei. These parties are facing major charges from the United States, including allegations of conspiracy to commit computer fraud, conspiracy to commit economic espionage, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Last year, Equifax has agreed to pay up to $700 million in settlements with the Federal Trade Commission. These cases investigated how Equifax handled the data breach. A large sum of the settlement went towards to those affected by the data breach, as they allocated $425 million to help customers whose data was accessed as a result of the hacking.

Attorney General William Barr was outraged by the attack on America, and expressed his concern for national security, by saying, “This was an organized and remarkably brazen criminal heist of sensitive information of nearly half of all Americans, as well as the hard work and intellectual property of an American company, by a unit of the Chinese military,” Barr said.

This is not the only instance where the Chinese Liberation Army (PLA) has launched hacking campaigns against the United States. In 2014, five Chinese military hackers were charged with breaking into major corporation’s private networks with the hopes of gaining insight on trade details. 

This case adds to the list of many breaches performed by the Chinese government, only adding to the already existing trade tensions between the U.S. and China. 

Thomas McMahon ’20 expressed his concern with the Chinese government being able to access millions of American’s private information easily. McMahon angrily said, “It is really alarming that anyone can access confidential information if they try hard enough. Just look at what happened to Capital One this summer. I try my best to keep my information secure, but there is only so much you can do with the sophistication of hackers these days.”

Whether it be the hacking of more than 20 million files on government employees, theft of more than 10 million health records from health insurance provider Anthem, or the stealing of hundreds of millions of Marriot Hotel records, China is no amateur when it comes to stealing precious information from American citizens. These cases have raised questions as to whether the United States government is doing enough to protect its citizens from these ever so often hacking cases by foreign governments. 

Charging these four suspects associated with the Equifax case is a step in the right direction for national security, but the United States is far from being able to solve the recurring issue related to the hacking of confidential information.

Editor’s Corner: Money Talks: The NBA & China

by The Cowl Editor on October 31, 2019

Professional Sports

By Cam Smith ’21

Sports Assistant Editor

For months, pro-democracy protesters have filled the streets of Hong Kong, a former British colony that was handed back to the Chinese in 1997. Although taking place on the opposite side of the globe, the effects of the protests are being felt on the American world of basketball.  

To understand the unrest, one must understand that since 1997, China and Hong Kong have operated under a “one country, two systems” policy. The policy grants the citizens of Hong Kong far greater access to rights, including the right to free speech and free assembly, than those living on the Communist party-controlled mainland.

The catalyst for the protests was a bill that would make it easy for Beijing officials, including President Xi Jinping, to accuse Hong Kong citizens of fallacious crimes, and then process them through courts controlled by the Communist Party. Although the bill was recently withdrawn by the Hong Kong legislature, the protests have continued as they have evolved into a broader fight against the increasing encroachment of Beijing into everyday life.

It is in this context that on Oct. 4, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, tweeted out his support for the protesters, posting an image that read, “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” This simple gesture of support created countless consequences.

Subsequently forced to apologize for his tweet, Morey was denounced by the Chinese consulate in Houston and was even on the hotseat as the Rockets reportedly considered firing him in an effort to appease the Chinese. His own star player, James Harden, took it upon himself to apologize for Morey, saying, “We apologize… we love China. We love playing there.”

Fellow NBA star, Lebron James, whose team was in China at the time for a pair of preseason games, also weighed in, saying that, “So many people could have been harmed [by the tweet], not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually… Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, there can be a lot of negative that comes with it.”

Since then, Chinese broadcasters have ignored key games in the opening week of NBA action, including the Rockets opener against the Milwaukee Bucks. Chinese sponsors for the NBA have also been pulled, and those games that did make it to television in China were devoid of audio for fear of mentioning the controversy.

It was only recently that the NBA forged a $1.5 billion agreement to stream games online with Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings. Prior to the deal, what the league labels as “NBA China,” already held an estimated value of $4 billion to the league. Unquestionably, China represents an enormous market for basketball itself.

However, this does not excuse the NBA from turning its back on a people fighting for freedom. The squashing of support for Hong Kong by the league, along with other American corporations including Apple and Blizzard Entertainment, is deeply disturbing. Furthermore, it is a complete betrayal of the American values that we hold dear as a country, values that have allowed the NBA and its players to thrive. The expansion of capitalism must not result in the sacrifice of democracy.

Friartire: President Pooh

by The Cowl Editor on October 24, 2019


by Pooh Bear Fanatic ’21

Xi Jinping, president of the People’s Republic of China, made headlines last week when reports of his lawsuit against Walt Disney Productions resurfaced for their use of his likeness in their depiction of Winnie the Pooh.

The suit, filed in 2014, claimed that President Jinping’s, 66, likeness had been used as a basis to create the infamous bear, which has been used to “mock” the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China.

The resurfacing comes in the wake of Hong Kong protesters objecting to Xi Jinping by donning homemade Pooh Bear masks in their continued fight against the abhorred extradition bill, meaning Pooh could represent far more than a flashpoint with the 2023 election looming.

President Jinping has previously banned all depictions of Pooh Bear in Chinese media, claiming that the “dimwitted naivety” of the anthropomorphic bear undermines the importance of the communist revitalization that he has championed.

Representatives to the People’s Republic of China could not be reached for comment.