In a short number of years this story will sound like madness

Canada installs Chinese underwater monitoring devices next to US nuclear submarine base

  • Ocean Network Canada confirms addition of hi-tech sensors built by Chinese scientists to its marine observatories in Pacific Ocean
  • US state department has ‘nothing to say’ on matter

Full story here, here is some further context from the piece:

Whatever the devices end up being used for, Chen Hongqiao, a researcher at the Centre for Canadian Studies at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou, said there was no doubting the sensitivity of the issue.

“Deep sea observation networks are highly sensitive, and closely related to national security,” he said. “Countries don’t open them up to third parties unless there is a high level of trust and confidence.”

The decision to give China such access could have only come from highest corridors of power on both sides, he said.

“Such collaboration is very unusual. The implications go far beyond science, [so] it could have only happened with a nod from the top on both sides.”


According to the article, the sensors have a range of five meters, all data will be publicly available, and the project is to study ocean chemistry—surely important given the risk of ocean acidification poses to marine life and seafood supplies in all countries. I hope the reason this will seem hard to believe in a few years is that people will realize how damaging it was to subordinate the scientific progress of mankind to unfounded and sectarian national concerns.

PLA intel or state security?

Well, you know there was just a story last week about Chinese intelligence inserting hacking chips into Amazon and Apple products.

So, it stands to reason that there is a significant probability that there is something more than the advertised product in these devices.

Or that both stories are bullshit.

Not to say that Chinese aren’t willing to do such things (nor Americans for that matter), but the story last week was dubious and many questions have been raised as to its veracity. There are simply too many implausible elements and seemingly sloppy reporting which detracts from its believability.

Wait a minute! Just give me minute to pull out my Chinese made mobile phone and let everyone know that China has somehow managed to get sensors into this country!!!

This guy gets it.

Maybe America should choose better its friends.

America ticks off China. America ticks off Canada. China now has a foothold in North America. See trade wars are so easy!

It's amazing that a Brazilian living in a favela would manage to dredge up a 30 year old LA Times news article to make a point.

That's because Brazilians are the smartest people in the world. They landed on the moon in 1960. The reason nobody heard about it is that Brazilians are too modest to brag about it. Also, they had so many other accomplishments at the time that they just didn't think it was such a big deal.

I'm Brazilian and I thought this was pretty funny. :^)

During the Cold War, the USA faked a sort of search-and-retrieve mission to tap into a USSR underwater cable. But despite the best precautions, the secret had already been leaked by Soviet spies inside the US government.

Bonus trivia: a big deal in underwater cables is shark bite prevention; the cables give off a tiny underwater electric current that makes sharks want to bit it.

I hope the sharks go extinct over it. I hate sharks. I hate everyone who openly admits they would eat me if they could.

I'm pretty sure it's been established that sharks really don't like the taste of humans and don't really want to eat us. They just see the shape that looks like their preferred food, or some thing new and try to taste it.

If sharks really wanted to eat us you would not read all the stories about shark bites. You'd read the stories about surfers and swimmers being eaten.

Sharks actually do not eat people. We don't have any natural predators (other than other humans of course). Sharks only attack humans because we look like turtles or other food when viewed from below the surface. Sharks also do not have any limbs so the only way they know whether it is good food is to test with a bite. That bite, unfortunately, could be fatal to us.

So no, sharks do not admit to eating you openly. The human race on the other hand will kill without compunction anything and everything.

Humans have plenty of natural predators, most infectious diseases meet at least one definition of predator.

Even for large animals, a respectable number may treat humans like prey: some species of crocodiles, large constricting snakes, lions, leopards, and tigers have all been known to kill and eat adult humans.

If we include human children, the list of predators becomes much larger. Historically wild pigs and wolves were significant killers of children.

We killed off a lot of the animals that would eat humans and in recent centuries pretty much everyone has some method for disposing of human dead which typically results in little human remains for predators to eat and habituate to humans as a food. This is one reason why epidemics and other natural disasters typically result in increased rates of predation - unburied/unburned/etc. corpses build up and allow animals to associate humans with food. In a state of "nature" pretty much all large scale predators would naturally stalk at least human children.

"Bonus trivia: a big deal in underwater cables is shark bite prevention; the cables give off a tiny underwater electric current that makes sharks want to bit it."
[Citation needed]

We need an underwater wall to keep sharks out of our territorial waters

I’d model it on the island-seizin’ work done by Communist “Leader in perpetuity” Xi in the South China sea.

I wonder if anyone has ever told Xi he needs to bite his tongue.

I don't like sharks either, but if they die out, so will scallops because sharks prey on predators like rays that themselves prey on scallops.

Monitoring, get used to it. Up close (wireless monitors connected to the individual to monitor her health 24/7) to far away (satellite monitors in space to monitor every movement on earth and in space) to down below (underwater monitors to monitor every movement on and under the oceans). I think the libertarian moment has passed. Ironically, as the result of self-styled libertarians in tech who have developed the monitors.

With all that monitoring, you know what's inevitable: data overload! We will need monitors of the monitors (of the monitors, of the monitors, etc.). At the personal level, I was only somewhat surprised by the resistance from cardiologists et al. to health care monitors. After all, who or what will read all that data? Designers of the monitors respond that it's all in the algorithms. It seems to me that it's expecting too much - somebody has to create the perfect algorithms. If the algorithms for a health care monitor fail, it's just one dead patient, but what of the algorithms for monitoring battleships (including Trump's battleships in space), submarines, etc., if the algorithms fail, holy shit!

'it will be hard to believe such things ever were allowed to happen'

No it won't, unless the U.S. becomes even more overtly hegemonic.

Or the concept of international waters breaks down completely. As it is, the U.S. Navy is exercising the right of free navigation in international waters, though China objects (to the point that undoubtedly lives will be lost in the future through misjudgments). As the article properly notes, these Chinese monitoring devices are 'in waters just 300km (186 miles) off the United States’ Pacific coast.'

Yeah, I'm not exactly what tone Tyler was trying to strike with his comment about what sort of things might not be "allowed" to happen in the future. Allowed by whom, and policed how, exactly? You think the US is going to be able to maintain its military veto of national sovereignty for every other country on the planet indefinitely? China has seen the writing on the wall; so has Russia.

It's easy to laugh at this, but it is vital to maintain a high degree of military readiness in order to prevent China from interfering with the United State's trade with China.

The solution is easy: A federal program to send all those deadbeats in Youngstown, Ohio and along the Mississippi Delta to tech school so that the US can make its own sensors. Simple. While they're at it, have the First Lady tell them to eat less and exercise more.

Small but public and potent way for Canada to let the US know that our govt. is ruining its relationship with our neighbor to the north, and for no good reason.

If these are a problem for the US Navy then they'll be prone to unexpected break downs almost immediately.

168 miles off shore, excuse me, ONLY 168 miles off shore. This is "next to" our sub base? Except that the map shows the sensors to be more than 270 miles from the base.

+1, this is just another misleading headline.

You needed help with that?

The headline already does sound pretty mad, but then you read the article and learn they're talking about sensors 186 miles offshore. What else is new.

By the way, on that article about secret Chinese chips in servers, I might have to downgrade my belief. The story now seems to be that Apple and Amazon are pushing back hard, and Bloomberg is retreating on its claims.

I worry about secondary CPUs on main boards, and their "phone home" boot-up sequences, but apparently not in this case.

Agreed but then again, one might expect that type of reaction even if true if the information is classified at certain levels.

Of course an alternative, tinfoil hat interpretation might be that it wasn't the Chinese that put the chips there but CIA/DIA/NSA or whatever the new no-name agency(ies) might be did.

Look at you NIC as well ;-)

>ever were allowed to happen.

Allowed by whom, Ty? Who exactly was supposed to "disallow" the Canadians from buying something from the Chinese, in your world?

Is there some Board of Frowning Judgmental Economists who inadvertently let this one slip?

While largely sharing the same view, might this not fall under the new terms of the trade agreement?

Why a short number of years? Do you think that conflict with China is about to escalate? I don't see why it ought to.
To me, China does not seem to be interested in territorial expansion - other than retaining control of Tibet and Taiwan, and a couple of islands. They aren't threatening to invade Vietnam or Korea or Japan. Sure they want to keep US spy planes and warships out of the South China Sea, which is perfectly understandable - they don't want to be spied on. But aside from that, I don't see them behaving aggressively towards their neighbors, unlike Russia, for instance.

The Chinese just want to make money and be treated like they are a great power, which they are. So there is no reason we shouldn't be able to have a harmonious relationship.

You could treat it as less a geo-political and more I technological inevitability.

Whether or not the Chinese put malicious "grains of rice" onto supermicro motherboards, it is just a reality that "grains of rice" now have that capability.

We will have smart stuff all around us, but who will know what that smart stuff is really thinking.

(Wasn't the story that a million home webcams were compromised a year or two ago?)

Wow, Google "compromised webcams" and you see all kinds of crazy stuff going on.

(There is a plausible reason to expose cameras to the internet, but that there's a market for Wi-Fi light bulbs absolutely boggles my mind.)

I am shocked, shocked to discover that friendly governments spy on eachother!

oops, meant to be a response to chuck martel.

"The Chinese just want to make money and be treated like they are a great power, which they are. "

That may be a very understated claim. My intuition is that Xi and China are looking to return the dynasty which is significantly more than mere recognition as a major power. They need to return to the position of center of the world, the middle kingdom where all other cultures and country are subordinate in Chinese eyes and in the eyes of the "others".

I think they, and Russia are returning to imperialist root and doing everything they can to achieve those empires.

The USA may well have had that power (and may still have it for some time) but the people never really allowed the government to fully (or even largely) exercise that power internationally. The limitation will not be present for either China or Russia.

+1 on that risk, and the risk of big data totalitarianism

The difference between China and Russia is that Russia has taken active steps towards recovering territory it held during the soviet era. They actually invaded the Ukraine. China doesn't seem to be making any moves towards actually invading neighboring states. They seem to be more focused on acquiring status not territory.

I guess technically true because water isn’t land?

But incredibly misleading. Just because it’s called the South China Sea doesn’t mean it belongs to China.

And my give a shit level vis-à-vis the Ukraine is zero. Klepto Slavs fighting each other over rotted out factories and pensioner row houses.

The South China Sea is a critical transit point for commerce and oil for north east Asia. There’s a reason China wants to control it, and unlike the Ukraine it’s a critical strategic area.

Well as has been pointed out, the claims regarding the "South China Sea" is one case in point. It is much more then merely the sea passage as well. There are huge natural resources, as well as significant military aspects.

You might want to look into how many in Vietnam are viewing the ever increasing investments, and (at least a month or so back) possible changes to leasing terms for Chinese investors in the provinces bordering China. The concern is not merely a defacto control issue but that particular region historically was part of an earlier Chinese empire. Clearly China is looking at the past to define what is and is not China. I suspect some in Vietnam are concerned a more ambitious China may want to reclaim it's old territory.

Forgot to point out that China is actively in territorial disputes with both India and Nepal and one can say that what is going in with the new "education centers" in Xinjiang is as much about keeping territories conquered and the non-Chinese population subjected to the central government rule. shows a nice history of the geographical changes of China over time. Which "China" does Xi and the CPC have in mind do you think? Just the Modern day map or perhaps others. The belt and road initiative has some rather strong resemblances to earlier westward expansions by various Chinese empires.

In view of the circumstances, someone should talk to Sen. Diane Feinstein about the situation.

до свидания, жирный русский тролль

"To me, China does not seem to be interested in territorial expansion - other than retaining control of Tibet and Taiwan, and a couple of islands. "

Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

The British Commonwealth is China's [redacted].

There's a scene in Jet Li's Fearless that makes pretty clear the Chinese view of Britain, France, Japan, and the US, and China's own role in Asia. It's so hamfisted it's funny.

I guess we should really contrast these "sensors" way out in the ocean with all of the "digital assistants" people invite into their homes - sometimes when they just think they are buying a tv.

And super related:

Seems like a good illustration of the point Tyler makes about the biggest danger of the Trump presidency - an erosion of US international relations / trust with key partners.

An ongoing scientific collaboration between China and Canada that won't remotely effect US security and almost certainly predates the Trump administration constitutes " the biggest danger of the Trump presidency - an erosion of US international relations / trust "?

That seems far fetched. This is a misleading headline with little to no actual national security ramifications for the US.

It is a China / Canada story. Not everything that happens in the world is about the US. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Next up:

"Men with links to the Chinese Military have been caught buying massive amounts of property in Vancouver.

Is the China-Canadian invasion of the US imminent?"

Why would anyone trust the US, regardless of the occupant of the Oval Office?

Because even after Obama and Trump, what the US says is still more truthful than what Russia and China say?

Unless something changes dramatically, in 20 years this will be a very boring dog bites man story. Unless there is an independent effort to create a secure operating system, and a secure successor to the internet, we will just know that as many countries and companies as want to, will be up in our lives.

Maybe this is something non-technical users don't know, but no government on Earth is committed to creating completely secure computer systems, because they want to get into them "when they need to."

And despite their trying, that you can't make a computer system that can only be compromised by "good guys."

Much ado about nothing. China has little blue-water capability anyways -- they would very likely lose a war even with tiny Taiwan, as per the recent MIT analysis.

The PLA has the same basic flaw common to so many non-OECD militaries -- it functions far more as a vehicle for graft than as a means to project any sort of military capability.

The PLA command structure is a powerful force domestically. A division commander can have not only troops at his disposal but also all manner of businesses. On the other hand, he's a non-entity on the international scene.

The corruption networks are apparently night unto a second government, but at least the PLA officer corps is strongly invested in keeping the system going.

It's a stable system in many poor, autocratic countries, as long as they don't have to fight a Western military. Substantial reforms are probably still somewhat beyond XI's power.

I think seeing "madness" in the title triggered me to first read the headline as "underwear" instead of "underwater". After I realized my mistake, I was less disturbed about the whole thing.

On the whole I agree with the commenters who say that this is not a big deal. Installing monitors on the ocean floor is something that I presume all great navies are doing.

China's navy is probably not one of the great ones -- yet. They have the resources and the will to transform their navy, and are clearly attempting to do so. The 21st century Chinese navy reminds me of the 1920s-1930s Imperial Japanese Navy, which was embarked on a long term project to raise both the quantity and quality of its ships to compete with the western powers.

That doesn't mean that the two great Pacific powers have to clash as they did in 1941. But if you get an expansionist dictator or oligarchy in power -- or even just a junta that wants to reclaim as island as with Argentina and the Falklands -- and anything can happen.

But at the moment it's not 1941. It does seem a bit unusual for Canada to be abetting China's efforts, but the pure scientific aspects of the project are there as well. Heck, the USA cooperates with Russia in putting people and materials into orbit around the earth. And Canada cooperates with China in putting sensors into the ocean.

A happier example of Chinese relations with other countries, from that same SCMP webpage, is this article about the retirement of a Japanese table tennis player. She'd trained in China and despite historic and cultural tensions between the countries (China still gets ticked off when the Japanese erase or soft-pedal their responsibility for millions of deaths in WW II), she became a favorite of Chinese table tennis fans.

This is so strange. It's almost like Canada might suddenly value its relations with the US less for some reason.

It's a mystery, I tells ya!

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