China and Cyber Hacking

It is disturbing to see our government so scared of offending the Chinese government, even when its officials are hacking into our government computers.

There doesn’t seem to be any question that this is the case. The head of the Security Intelligence Service, Warren Tucker, virtually said as much in an interview published in the Dominion Post, when he referred to comments by Canada’s security service about Chinese spying.

Then we have high government officials in Britain, Germany and the United States all reporting Chinese hacking of government computers, such as that in the US Defence Secretary’s office.

Today I asked the Prime Minister a series of questions on the hacking issue and didn’t get anything back which would be useful to New Zealanders. I asked her if she believed “New Zealanders have a right to know which foreign country is endangering the security of our government information and the public embarrassment is the best medicine, as when she publicly scolded Israel for trying to obtain false New Zealand passports?”

She dodged that question.

Once again the New Zealand government has shown weakness before the size and economic power of China, the same sort of weakness we saw most recently when Cabinet ministers were forbidden from officially meeting the Dalai Lama for fear of upsetting the Chinese government.

I simply can’t fathom how displaying such weakness before the Chinese government helps us to negotiate a good trade agreement. And as I asked in another of my questions today: how “does she think New Zealand can continue to effectively negotiate a free trade deal with China, in good faith, if the Chinese government is hacking into our computers and stealing information relevant to our bargaining position.

Yes, we have to protect government computers and the Greens congratulate those government officials that have detecting the hacking attempts from the Chinese.

As I said in my last question today, we can join with the US, British and German governments in protesting this hacking.

But such cross-country action is somewhat undermined by the extensive electronic spying on other nations done by the United States in particular through the National Security Agency, backed up by the four other Anglo nations in the Echelon network — Britain, Australia, Canada — and New Zealand.

Every day the satellite communications interception station at Waihopai draws down off two communications satellites over the Pacific equator details on millions of phone calls, faxes and emails — which are filtered for key words and addresses mainly for the benefit of the US National Security Agency.

It would be much better if we had clean hands, as a small, independent nation in the world. We would have much more of a moral case against Chinese hacking. It would be good if our Government Communications Security Bureau concentrated on defending our computers, rather than using most of its resources spying for the National Security Agency — as it does now.

The Chinese hacking is part of a larger attack on privacy and human rights — which is mainly directed at its own citizens. Unfortunately, our government says little in public on this. I was privileged, yesterday, to host a parliamentary forum for experts on these matters — particularly David Kilgour, a former Canadian MP and former Secretary of State for Asia Pacific, and prominent Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas.

They have produced “Bloody Harvest: a revised report into allegations of organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China” — which scientifically proves the gruesome sale of organs from executed prisoners – and China has the world record for executions — something like 10,000 a year according to Amnesty International. Proper figures are not made available by the Chinese government. Huge fortunes are being made by army officers and sick medical professionals out of this horrific trade in organs.

New Zealand has a duty to be part of the world response to the large-scale violations of human rights in China, particularly leading up to the Olympic Games, in a period when the Chinese government is particularly susceptible to public embarrassment.

Our government has to be more outspoken about the executions, the organ harvesting, the presence of so many thousands of dissidents and Falun Gong practioners in the Chinese gulag, the gross censorship of news media and the internet.

Standing up for human rights in China is also the most effective way to combat that government’s hacking of our computers.