Friday, November 30, 2018

National Security Crisis - The Administration Might be Unwittingly Inviting a Giant Chinese Trojan Horse (by Mario C. Ibarra)

To illustrate the dangers of allowing Chinese telecommunication company to build and operate a complete telecommunication infrastructure in the Philippines, I have compiled a series of reports from several legitimate local and international news agencies regarding this issue. Please read to be aware of the dangers.

After the recent bidding for a third telco company, suspected by some as having been rigged in favor of a certain company with tailor-made criteria or what they call terms of reference, a sole "qualified" bidder-consortium, which includes China Telecommunication Corporation, emerges as the winner. What makes the entry of this company suspicious is the fact that it is a Chinese government company, and it was the original company handpicked by the Chinese government last year upon the request of Duterte:

“MalacaƱang had earlier announced that Duterte has offered China the privilege of becoming the third telecommunications carrier in the country. Communications Secretary Martin Andanar has said the Chinese government has chosen China Telecom Corporation Limited to be the third telecom provider in the Philippines.”

The Bidding, A fait accompli?

As early as November last year, Duterte had already promised China that he will provide the 3rd telecom slot to them:

"Chinese involvement in the Philippine telecom market was initiated on the political level. During Duterte's November meeting in Manila with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the Philippine president said he would allocate the third telecom slot to China, prompting Beijing to endorse China Telecom."

And the government seemed to be in a hurry to install China Telecom at that time, why?

But unfortunately for them, it hit legal roadblocks: the Chinese needed a local majority-holding partner(s) and had to go through a bidding process. Is it a coincidence that one of Duterte's major campaign contributors, Dennis Uy, has become one of their winning partners together with a dubious and dormant telecom company Mislatel (a dummy)?

And it had garnered the highest score based on the terms of reference for the third telco selection. But their rival Chavit Singson claims Sear Telecom, his joint venture with TierOne Communications, could have gotten a perfect score of 500, had they not been disqualified.

A Coincidence?

And... not-so-surprisingly, Mislatel consortium was chosen with finality on November 19, just a day before Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to our country! A coincidence or a very special welcome gift?

And the Chinese are known to provide very generous deals to poor countries with offers they cannot resist, and are also known to offer bribes. The readers probably remember the infamous ZTE scandal during the time of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, where several officials were alleged to have received bribes. So the question is, was Duterte offered juicy bribe by the Chinese? Of course not, but his desperate effort earlier to bring them here at all cost, even to the point of threatening the courts “not to interfere” with the Chinese telecom project make some naughty-minded people suspicious...

Major Accusations Against Major Chinese Telecom Companies, Including China Telecom Company

China Telecom was accused of diverting web traffic to their server, which could be used for spying and cyber warfare.

And the Chinese government have been suspected of using their telecom companies for spying. They have successfully enticed several repressive countries like Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to build telecom infrastructures in their respective countries by providing them with the capability to spy on their own citizens. This means the Chinese can even help our government to spy on us and even trace us! which would be very dangerous for the anti-administration cyber-warriors. We should never allow this to happen.

"Over time, authoritarian-minded Central Asian leaders have come to appreciate cooperation with Chinese telecom firms as a useful means of bolstering their authority, rights advocates assert. Some civil society groups argue that Huawei and others are willing to 'assist the Turkmen government in monitoring cell phone and internet use in exchange for lucrative deals.

"Such cooperation 'would definitely make it easier' for repressive Central Asian governments to spy on their own people, as well as on foreign firms doing business in the region...

"...For these reasons, China application for entry was denied in several countries like the United Kingdom, and in India, where they responded to the Chinese request with a firm, “absolutely not!”

Furthermore, Chinese telecommunication companies, ZTE and HUAWEI had been under major investigation by the U.S. congress. Both companies have been accused of being dummies for the Chinese government.

Highlights from U.S. Congressional Investigation on ZTE and HUAWEI

As early as 2012, the United State congress has been conducting an investigation on two major Chinese telecommunication companies, Z.T.E. and Huawei, and found them to be highly suspicious of massive spying activities. Here are the few highlights of their investigation, quoted directly from the links above:

“Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said committee investigators received ‘numerous allegations’ from U.S. companies that equipment bought from Huawei sent unauthorized data to computers in China.

That’s a serious problem,’ Rogers said at a news conference to release the results of an 11-month investigation into Huawei and another Chinese tech giant, ZTE. ‘It could be a router that turns on in the middle of the night, starts sending back large data packs, and it happens to be sent back to China.’

Rogers declined to identify companies that had complained about suspicious data transfers. But he and Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.), the committee’s ranking Democrat, recommended that the U.S. government and American firms avoid using equipment from the Chinese firms for tasks that involve large amounts of sensitive data. The two lawmakers said the firms’ close ties to the Chinese government pose a threat to national security.”

And take note: many of their concerns were limited to equipment or gadgets, but here in the Philippines, we are talking about the whole telecommunication infrastructure! Our government is considering allowing the Chinese to build and operate a whole telecom system. This means that there is a possibility the Chinese would be able control our entire telecommunication network, and judging from their actions, especially their brazenly illegal acts in regard to the offshore territories we hold exclusive rights to, they probably will if they can. Though, outwardly, Huawei and ZTE are presented as “private” Chinese companies, in reality, there is no purely private company in China as the authoritarian government always has influence and control over any company as they see fit.

“US legislators have expressed concern that Huawei and ZTE act as front companies for the Chinese government, and represent a grave ‘cyber-security threat.'”

Conclusion - An Opinion

We must all try to convince President Duterte’s to stop his plan to allow the Chinese to build and operate telecommunication facilities here in the Philippines. To say that it would compromise our national security will not be enough; it might even undermine our sovereignty, and endanger our national well-being as well. Once we allow the Chinese to take over our telecom system, we are practically finished, with the Chinese controlling our vital telecom networks with their vast technical know-how or technology. And once this is done, the Chinese can control the whole country – the Philippines will be under virtual Chinese occupation and control. And we will probably lose our rights to the contested offshore territories for good. And furthermore, if we fall into their debt-trap – a whole new problem and topic – we will forever be under their subjugation. Far-fetched? Yes, perhaps, but theoretically, this is not totally impossible. So before it’s too late, we must convince the President not to pursue this plan. This is of utmost importance – our national interest, nay our lives, may be at stake here. So everybody must work hard to pressure and convince the President to save the country from this potential virtual occupation of the Chinese, whatever color or side they may belong to. Let us be united even just for this one cause...



To read more on Mario Crisostomo Ibarra’s articles, views and opinions, follow him at:

Twitter: @Mario_C_Ibarra 


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