DECEMBER 07, 2007
A Chinese communist billionaire’s purchase of a major online network is creating concern on the heels of an internet giant—operated by a fellow countryman–turning over secret data that helped officials in China hunt down and punish dissidents.
In that case Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang helped China’s communist regime identify and incarcerate dissidents and a journalist who defied an order not to write about the 15th anniversary of the massive Beijing protests at Tiananmen Square, in which hundreds were massacred by China’s military.
Yang willingly turned over secret data even though he was fully aware of the oppressive Chinese government’s history of human rights violations. In the case of the journalist, the Chinese government raided his home, confiscated his computer and sentenced him to a decade in prison.
Now the richest man in Asia, a renowned communist named Li Ka-shing, has bought an online social network called Facebook that has nearly 60 million active members. The concern now is that the Hong Kong billionaire will cooperate with authorities in his country, many of which are his close friends, to catch those who violate its oppressive rules.
Even scarier is that, although U.S. intelligence agencies have for years suspected Li of arms smuggling and other national security violations, the U.S. government awarded his company (Hutchinson Whampoa) a no-bid, $6 million contract to safeguard the American shoreline from nuclear threat. Li’s firm operates sophisticated, American-made equipment that detects radioactive material in shipping cargo at a Bahamian port only 65 miles from the U.S. shore.
A few years ago the Bush administration actually blocked the mega Chinese conglomerate from purchasing bankrupt U.S. telecommunications company Global Crossings on national security grounds. Li still owns both the Pacific and Atlantic ports on the Panama Canal, however.
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