According to Swedish newspapers reports in September were public institutions in Sweden such as Sweden’s television and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs exposed to massive attacks by Chinese internet trolls. The affected have confirmed that ”an increased activity has been noted” on such forums as Facebook, email and Twitter but did not tell more about the extent and effect of those hostile attacks or how they handle the situation.
What triggered this situation is the story about three Chinese tourists who arrived at their hostel (hotel or hostel) in Stockholm in early September one day before they had booked rooms, but still wanted access to the rooms. When the hostel staff relentlessly rejected this demand it all end up in a big drama – finally a police patrol had to remove the tourists, first from the hotel and then from the street outside the hotel. The police patrol dumped the violent tourists outside the city on a road next a churchyard, Stockholm’s Skogskyrkogård (Stockholm Forest Churchyard).
This is actually what Swedish police units usually do with disturbing people at public places: take them in the police car and dry todrop them off at the countryside. This method can be discussed: if it is appropriate to dump troubled people outside town without checking if they have opportunities to get home or are suitably dressed for the season in a Nordic zone. But it can hardly be described as ”police brutality”. Rather like a show of Chinese ”drama queens”!
It has been speculations about this incident and furthermore about the following massive and aggressive reactions from China, state and embassy and Chinese media. One theory is it was a kind of ”culture conflict” as this kind of dramatic behaviour would be very strange and awkward for Swedish people. But I think few in Sweden beleives in that. Another theory and more credible, is that has a background in that the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested book publisher Gui Minhai to be freed from the Chinese jail.
In short he is a Swedish citizen of Chinese ethnicity, who from his home in Thailand has published books critical to the Chinese dictatorship. He was kidnapped and imprisoned in 2015, released in 2017 and then kidnapped again in 2018. His health is so weak he is at risk of to dye, as denied medical treatment and visitors, isolated and handed over to the Chinese dragon’s reckless jaws.
Whatever authenticity of the tourists’ story in a dilemma, the local media reports in China have make impressions among its own public and upset common Chinese people telling they never ever want to visit Sweden as tourists. Well… who wants them?!
The Chinese reactions to the hotel incident is one example how Chinese agencies and authorities act aggressively in Europe: by spying on Chinese people living abroad, by internet trolling, by trade, by buying military interesting ports and having ownership in multinational corporations stated in Sweden and abroad (like AB VOLVO) and by official offensive political pressures and threats.
VOLVO – for those who don’t know – is a Swedish multinational manufacturing company and its core activity is the production, distribution and sale of trucks, buses and construction equipment, Volvo also supplies marine and industrial drive systems and financial services. In 2016, it was the world’s second largest manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks. (Wikipedia)
AB VOLVO is based in 18 countries and has 100 000 employees. A private Chinese company (Geely) is the major shareholder. The Volvo Group trains its employees all over the world in ”the right behavior” (Code of Conduct) – and in promoting ”human rights” through a computer game.
I don’t know anything about computer game uses as I’ve never come near a computer game even less used one. To me as belonging to an older generation grown up with celluloid dolls and wooden toy trains and Enid Blyton’s children books, this ”Code of Conduct” sounds like some kind of brainwashing. This even more as I consider moral and ethics to be something that’s incorporated into one’s personality and therefore much more basic than to learn to perform what the group you belong to and have around consider to be appropriate behavior. Even a sociopath or an autistic person can learn to performe proper acts in front of a groups eyes.
But a big company must have tools to act against misconduct. And it is really good those bad apples that must be among 100 thousand co-workers knows what applies.
And the Chinese on whatever level are probably okay with it even if it includes such mysterious luxury as ”human rights” (whatever that can be, they might think?), but they are familiar with training people to right thinking and are even more pleased with ”retrain” Muslims in their re-education camps.* And the big man himself is a product of retraining as spending years of his youth in Chinese retraining camps, not to forget.
(Last on news (5 – 6 October) about the Chinese repressive actions is the report the President of Interpol Meng Hongwei disappeared without a trace during a trip to China. His family hasn’t of him since September 25.)
När man talar om trollen så står de i farstun (it’s an old Swedish saying = ”speak of the trolls and you have them standing in the hall”, it’s a warning not to talk about evil things, but it is also told from ancient times: trolls, they crack and die of the
”Let there be light” then!
The invention of Internet opened the world for people everywhere and became a door opener and a meeting point. But now Internet is partly captured by dubious and dark interests. Therefore has the internet become a possible danger for the indiviual user such as you and I, as being an arena for extremist political propaganda, pornography traps, spamming and scamming and it’s done by using sneak paths, skillfully fooling our minds.
The questions to ask are like: Can an individual and free thinking be possible to create in today’s world? Is the fundamental need in the human to trust others possible to hold? How do you avoid to become cynical but to keep your heart’s welfare, its joy and lovingcapacity? ”All you need is love” easy said!
Both Russia and China wage a massive cultural war against individuals and governments in Europe (and the US) with their known troll factories. And from my local and maybe limited level I see them as more dangerous for the Swedish democracy than the national nationalist party ”Swedish Democrats” (commonly named ”SD”). This party who received 17.5% of the votes in the last election in September this year – which worries many who dislike their harsh immigrant rhetoric. (Which is an overwhelming majority of the Swedish people, that’s good to remember!)
I know of course that we have more dangers for our democratic values in front of us than from China and Russia, like the white power movement lead by that T-rex fellow Steve Bannon and his friends, having the goal to destroy EU and the liberal democracies in Europe. But not even the nationalistic and conservative Swedish party ”SD” want to join them, as they so obvious carry the signs of the plague. We have also the danger from the Turkish President Erdogan, intruding in European countries.
About 100 000 Turks lives in Sweden – in fear for Erdogan’s secret agents. Likewise we have the same danger coming from Iran, who spy and threat people with roots in Iran but now lives in Europe. But this criminal and nasty activities are less depended on internet control but are more of physical nature, concrete and life threating, coming from neighbors and members and leaders at Mosques. (True believers must nowadays find Allah in their homes as the sons of the devil ockupies the houses of holiness.)
Four Russian hackers were the other day deported from Netherlands and charged in US. It’s the same kind of ruthless crooks like those who so cruel and scary poisoned people within the British borders! ”Because we can”?
Those kind of monsters are certainly more dangerous and scary than young Chinese students getting pocket money to work as internet trolls. Even if they are as many and diligent as ants in an anthill.
I’m happy to live in Sweden. It’s not a Paradise on earth, but Sweden is a developed democracy with a rule of law. All people, regardless of what they are, have the same rights and they are legally protected from discrimination.
But for about 10 – 12 % of the Swedish citizens are those legal rights more a paper statement than living proof as they have their roots abroad. Still the fact is, those foreigners who come to Sweden and threaten people steady living here, they commit a crime on Swedish ground. It means Erdogan is a criminal and if I were Angela Merkel I would not shake his hand without spit in my own first.
To return from this digression, back to the Internet perspective:
What worries me for my Swedish society is that we Swedes and especially the Swedish authorities are such ingénues, especially regarding to the use of IT and about caring for the IT security and getting knowledge about it.
Our society is almost completely digitized. And as modern warfare looks, it means our society is terribly vulnerable. It’s said in today society is not about weapon and traditional military equipment. We live in a culture war.
*I use the term ”culture war” as Christopher Wylie expalin it, check him on youtube and The Guardian
*Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: ‘We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles’.
Swedish ÖB (Swedish Chief of Staff of the Army) can dance on Pride and sing ”Suspicious Mind” all in order not only to fight prejudices but also take advantage of the opportunity to promote more money and political support for the Army Forces and its needed reconstruction. But we need more Must and not more machine guns and soldiers. I’m of course proud of him for his Pride performance. But we need (more of) a security service that detects all the spies threats from states like Russia, China and Turkey (and others) operating in Sweden.
(”Must” is a shortening for the” Swedish military intelligence and security service”.)
The IT Scandal
An interview with the Prime Minister at the time, Stefan Löfven: Transport Agency data breach is a ”train wreck” Swedish broadcast interview24 juli 2017
We had the IT scandal this year revealing that technicians in the Czech Republic, Romania and without security had for the last years access to almost all of the Sweden’s infrastructures, including names and addresses of people with a protected identity or other sensitive identities, like military security agents.
When the scandal was a fact (at last) and media chased the ministers for responses, the Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson said to the journalists nothing suggested that any secret information had leaked. Of course not! No one can ever see if it has happened!
The media had difficulties long to make proper researches of this and they experienced it such as officials tried to put the lid on. But then the Constitutional Committee (KU) grounded in the parliament, criticized the government for handling the so-called IT scandal at the Transport Agency, not only for inaccuracies in the management of IT operations but also that the information inside the government was unclear, meaning politicians and their officials couldn’t inform or avoid to inform each who should have known about the delicate situation.
Those people responsible for our country and the safety of the ten millions citizens in this country, was not responsible at all. But this all began during the previous bourgeois government led by the former Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who ordered the outsourcing of our IT security formering, this in order to save money. But of course also for political reason, because for a conservative government private enterprise is better and more pleasing than a state ownership, even when it comes to the country’s security issues.
Three ministers were required to resign, but the Prime Minister fired two. The Minister of Home Affairs, Anders Ygeman was kicked aloft: as he became the group leader in the parliament for the Social Democrat group. He became then more visible than the prime minister himself at press conferences. After the election now in September this year, he is even more in power and visible. (He seems to be preparing to become the next party leader.)
So in the Social Democrats Party leaders became rewarded when they have committed failures. Thus it seems the Social Democrats protect their own leaders, not their voters.
The Minister of Infrastructure Anna Johansson was also fired form her post. Only three weeks after the election now in September, she was appointed as chairman of the labor market committee in parliament.
I got a shock reading this last in a newspaper – and that’s the reason for I at all write this blogpost: I’ve voted for this party and even if it was a tactic vote, I now I felt scrupulously deceived. Stupid me! But if I am still alive at the next election, I will not vote the same again, that’s for sure!
Thus… in the Social Democratic Party, claiming to represent the vast mass of wage earners and low-income earners and has done since 1800s, the representing leaders who misconduct are rewarded with other top jobs. Not to mention the former workers’ representatives, who after to their political missions, turn to jobs in business to then retire as millionaires. It stick in one’s craw!
Social Democrats are no longer the people’s party. All they want is to have and maintain political power and to be richly rewarded for it.
The Swedish populist political party, the Swedish Democrates (SD)
It is in this perspective to see the success of the nationalist party in the last election, September 2018. Representatives of the party can say idiotic things about ethnicity to the media, in their own media and at election speches and in the parliament. Their supporters may write horrible and/or stupid things on internet blogs and they have a lot of shady news magazines, and always creating new ones having an internet war for ”alternative” truths.
But their success is due to the fact that common people are dissatisfied with the politics that has been conducted the latest decades, especially by the Social Democratic Party, but also the other established parties. People voted for nationalistic and populistic Swedish Democrats (SD), not for liking their agenda but because of the frustration with the politics overall.
One can call SD for a racist, nationalist, Populist Party or whatever given derogatory epithet. It’s all correct! But it won’t change the fact it has become a parliament party through which they disappointed and neglected in the society show their dissatisfaction. It’s a watch up, really!
Unfortunately are the politicians in this party hardly capable or interested in taking care of this dissatisfaction among people, but using it only looking for their own interests.
Our votes are simply wasted as garbage. Should we then follow (Voltaire’s novel character) Candide’s advice, end listening to the silly talks in the public space, such false and quasi-philosophical lectures about what creates happy minds, bullshit frankly – and devote us to the own garden and its needs of care?
How to handle strong frustration, ”me” contra ”society”?
I have since spring or before, struggled with increasing feelings of gloomy frustration about the social climate today, not at all being comfortable be in present times. Then Voltaire’s novel ”Candide” came to my mind.
Candide’s conclusion is that one should ignore populist and falsity lectures and talks about ”the world”, but take care of what you have for hand, your garden. And I wondered (as many reader of the novel before and after me) what it could mean in practice (especially for me) and the consequences of this advice: should we all turn our backs to society and leave it to their place fate in the hands of greedy and / or antidemocratic interests? Or what?
It may sound a bit strange and farfetched, but I got a kind of an answer that freed me from the valley of hopelessness and depression when I happened to see a video on Youtube. It shows the rescue of mountain lion kept as a circus animal and chained at the back of a pickup for 20 years. It was freed by a group of Animal Defenders International (ADI).
This unselfish work for saving an animal brought light back to me and drew me out of my low mood. What could give you the same relief – I do not know! But there is always a way and a door to freedom. We are born as moral beings, reaching for others’ wellbeing.
Quote 1 “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Nelson Mandela
Quote 2 “It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people.” Martin Luther King Jr.
For sure, to vote in elections for a conservative populist and dissatisfaction party is absolutely not an option. The bigmouthed populists want to close the doors and borders between people and countries. It’s not the right way. But we need to shut down the opportunities to misuse the Internet and prevent companies from rob people and nature for profit and we need to open the doors between people, giving welfare, knowledge sharing and freedom for everyone. This includes the homosexuals in Africa and Asia – and Russia (whatever comes from there)!
Animal Defenders International (ADI)
Last Chance for Animals (LCA)
We’re caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much, baby
Why can’t you see
What you’re doing to me
When you don’t believe a word I say?
We can’t go on together
With suspicious minds (suspicious minds)
And we can’t build our dreams
On suspicious minds
* Want to know more about Chinese retraining camps ? google Human Rights Watch web page:
September 9, 2018
“Eradicating Ideological Viruses”
China’s Campaign of Repression Against Xinjiang’s Muslims
The quote below from this report by Human Rights Watch:
In many ways, the treatment of all Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang – those held inside detention facilities and those ostensibly free – bears disturbing similarities. Inside political education camps, detainees are forced to learn Mandarin Chinese, sing praises of the Chinese Communist Party, and memorize rules applicable primarily to Turkic Muslims. Those outside the camps are required to attend weekly, or even daily, Chinese flag-raising ceremonies, political indoctrination meetings, and at times Mandarin classes. Detainees are told they may not be allowed to leave the camps unless they have learned over 1,000 Chinese characters or are otherwise deemed to have become loyal Chinese subjects; Turkic Muslims living outside are subjected to movement restrictions ranging from house arrest, to being barred from leaving their locales, to being prevented from leaving the country. Inside, people are punished for peacefully practicing religion; outside, the government’s religious restrictions are so stringent that it has effectively outlawed Islam. Inside, people are closely watched by guards and are barred from contacting their families and friends. Those living in their homes are watched by their neighbors, officials, and tech-enabled mass surveillance systems, and are not allowed to contact those in foreign countries.
A Swedish report: sns.se/aktuellt/sns-analys-nr-51-kinas-medier-politik-och-ekonomi/
China works on all levels, latest news: the President of Interpol Meng Hongwei stationed in France has vanished during a visit to China.