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Foot binding was the Chinese custom that started in the Tang Dynasty, 10th century and prevailed for over a millennium. It was a practice first carried out on young girls to restrict their normal growth and make their feet as small as possible. Feet altered by foot-binding were known as lotus feet, and the shoes made for these feet were known as lotus shoes. Small feet were considered an attractive quality; the effects of the process were painful and permanent resulting in disfigured feet making it difficult for women to carry out their daily activities. It was a method that was widely used to distinguish the upper-class girl from others. Later the lower class women started practising foot binding to improve their social prospects. The practice of foot-binding would continue right up to the early 20th century CE.
The tradition for foot binding is believed to have started in the 10th century by a dancer and consort called Yao Niang. She danced on her toes inside a six-foot-high lotus flower made of gold and decorated with jewels, pearls and silk tassels. She wore silk socks over which she wound long, narrow bands of silk. She was much admired by Emperor Li Yu and as a result, women envied her and wanted to copy her small feet. The binding of feet was then replicated by other upper-class women, and the practice spread across the nation.
Chinese women wanted their feet to look small like a lotus bud and by the 19th century, nearly all women in China had bound feet or were ridiculed if they had big feet. Women wore smaller and smaller shoes to forcibly reduce the size of their feet.
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Chinese girls had their feet bound typically from the age of five to eight. Prayers and offerings were offered to the Tiny-Footed Maiden Goddess. The process was usually carried out during winters when girls' feet are numb to the pain of binding. The older women of the family or by a professional foot-binder took the feet of a young girl, plunged them into hot water and clipped her toenails short. Then the feet were massaged and oiled before all the toes, except the big toes, were broken and bound flat against the sole, making a triangle shape. Next, her arch was strained as the foot was bent double. The big toe was left facing forwards while the four smaller toes were bent under the foot. In this position, the feet were tightly bound using long strips of cloth, which then restricted any future growth and gave the foot a pronounced arch. This often resulted in one or more toes being lost or having infections in the foot or gangrene.
Feet of a Chinese woman, showing the crippling effect of foot-bindingWikimedia Commons
Small feet were eroticized and were believed to find a better husband. The smaller the feet the more attractive they were considered and it became a distinct mark of elegance. The most desirable bride possessed a three-inch foot, known as a "golden lotus." It was respectable to have four-inch feet as a silver lotus but feet five inches or longer were dismissed as iron lotuses. Women were forced to take small and light steps with their bound feet. As women's mobility became restricted because of their crippled feet performing everyday menial tasks took great effort. Through this practice, every aspect of women's beauty was intimately bound up with pain.
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Criticism and Demise
Oppositions to foot binding have been witnessed by some Chinese writers in the 18th century. The new Republic of China government banned foot binding in 1912, though the ban was not actively implemented. Hence, the practice continued in parts. Even though the practice is utterly rejected in China now the last shoe factory, the Zhiqian Shoe Factory, that made lotus shoes was closed in 1999. The practice survived for thousands of years in parts of the country because of women's emotional investment in the practice.
Keywords: Footbinding, China, Immobility, Women
Mustang Panda is a Chinese hacking group that is suspected of attempting to infiltrate the Indonesian government last month.
The reported breach, which the Indonesians denied, fits the pattern of China's recent cyberespionage campaigns. These attacks have been increasing over the past year, experts say, in search of social, economic and political intelligence from Asian countries and other nations across the globe.
"There's been an upswing," said Ben Read, director of cyberespionage analysis at Mandiant, a cybersecurity firm, in an interview with VOA. Cyber operations stemming from China are "pretty extensive campaigns that haven't seemed to be restrained at all," he said.
'Large-scale and indiscriminate'
For years, China was considered the United States' main cyber adversary, having coordinated teams both inside and outside the government conducting cyberespionage campaigns that were "large-scale and indiscriminate," Josephine Wolff, an associate professor of cybersecurity policy at Tufts University, told VOA.
The 2014-15 hack on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in which the personnel records of 22 million federal workers were compromised, was a case in point — a "big grab," she said.
After a 2015 cybersecurity agreement between then-U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, attacks from China declined, at least against the West, experts say.
Hacking rising with rhetoric
But as tensions rose between Beijing and Washington during the Trump presidency, Chinese cyberespionage also increased. Over the past year, experts have attributed notable hacks in the U.S., Europe and Asia to China's Ministry of State Security, the nation's civilian intelligence agency, which has taken the lead in Beijing's cyberespionage, consolidating efforts by the People's Liberation Army.
TAG-28, a Chinese state-sponsored hacking team focused on the Indian subcontinent, reportedly infiltrated targets that included the Indian government agency in charge of a database of biometric and digital identity information for more than 1 billion people, according to The Record, a media site focused on cybersecurity.
A Microsoft report released in October accuses the Chinese hacking group Chromium of targeting universities in Hong Kong and Taiwan and going after other countries' governments and telecommunication providers.
A woman walks by the Microsoft office building in Beijing, July 20, 2021. The Biden administration and Western allies formally blamed China the day before for a massive hack of Microsoft Exchange email server software. Image source: voa
Hafnium, the name Microsoft gave to a Chinese hacking group, was behind the Microsoft Exchange hack earlier this year, according to the company and the Biden administration. Chinese hacking teams, Microsoft reported, took advantage of a weakness in the software to grab what they could before an emergency patch could be issued.
Scooping up data
A National Public Radio investigation asserted that the Microsoft Exchange hack may have been, in part, an information scoop aimed at acquiring large amounts of data to train China's artificial intelligence assets.
Hafnium also targets higher education, defense industry firms, think tanks, law firms and nongovernmental organizations, the Microsoft report said. Another group from China, Nickel — also known as APT15 and Vixen Panda — targets governments in Central and South America and Europe, Microsoft said.
"What you are seeing now is this realization that Chinese espionage never disappeared and has become more technologically sophisticated," Wolff said.
White House response
The Biden administration has stepped up its response to Chinese hacking. Over the summer, the U.S. and its allies, including the European Union, NATO and the United Kingdom, accused China of being behind the Microsoft hack and called on Beijing to cease the activity.
The Biden administration has not indicted anyone related to the Microsoft Exchange hack, nor has it instituted economic or other sanctions against China.
However, the U.S. unsealed in July an indictment against four members of China's Ministry of State Security in a separate attack conducted by a group that security researchers call Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) 40, Bronze, Mohawk and other names.
A Chinese government spokesman demanded that the U.S. drop the charges and denied the nation was behind the Microsoft Exchange hack.
"The United States ganged up with its allies to make unwarranted accusations against Chinese cybersecurity," said Zhao Lijian, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, in a July statement. "This was made up out of thin air and confused right and wrong. It is purely a smear and suppression with political motives."
An icon for the Pulse Secure smartphone app, right, and a computer desktop info page are seen in Burke, Va., June 14, 2021. Suspected state-backed Chinese hackers penetrated the computer systems of critical U.S. entities by exploiting Pulse Connect Secure networking devices. Source:voa
While China has stepped up its use of hacking, it has not crossed what some cyber experts say is a bright line in cyberespionage: public, overt hacks, such as the Russian disinformation campaign to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election and, in May, the Colonial Pipeline ransomware hack, which was attributed to Russian-based cybercriminals.
China's aims appear to be long term and both economic and strategic, such as shoring up its capabilities "so they are not only well defended but surpass capacities," Philip Reiner, the CEO of the Institute for Security and Technology, told VOA.
A collective push from world leaders that cyberespionage is unacceptable might resonate with Chinese leaders in Beijing, who want to be accepted on the world stage, he said. Detailing clear consequences for state-sponsored hacks is also critical, he said.
Without a strong push from the U.S. and its allies, experts say, China's state-sponsored cyberattacks will continue. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: China, Cyber attacks, Microsoft, Hacking
India and China will hold 13th round of Corps Commander talks on Sunday, at Moldo on the Chinese side, to resolve border dispute in Eastern Ladakh.
Both the countries will discuss phase-III of disengagement and also overall de-escalation along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh. The talks are scheduled two months after both the countries withdrew troops from friction Patrolling Point (PP) 17A in Gogra at the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh.
The disengagement process was carried out over two days i.e. August 4 and 5, 2021. The troops of both sides are now in their respective permanent bases. It happened soon after twelfth round of talks between the Corps Commanders on July 31, 2021.
As an outcome of the meeting, both sides agreed on disengagement in Gogra. The troops in this area have been in a face-off situation since May last year. With disengagement reached between both the countries for Gogra, India will now take up other remaining friction areas like Hot Springs and 900 square km Depsang plains during 13th round of military talks.
India has insisted during recent military commander meetings to resolve all issues across the Line of Actual Control.
Till now, apart from 12 round of Corps Commanders-level talks, the two forces have also held 10 Major Generals level, 55 Brigadiers-level talks and 1,450 calls over the hotlines.
Earlier, the troops of two Himalayan giants have disengaged from both the banks of Pangong Tso in February this year.
India and China have been engaged in border disputes for the last 16 months. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: India, China, Borders Dispute, Talks, Nation, International Affairs.
SAN FRANCISCO — Since China's government declared all cryptocurrency transactions illegal last week and banned citizens from working for crypto-related companies, the price of bitcoin went up despite being shut out of one of its biggest markets.
Experts say large-scale Chinese miners of cryptocurrency — the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum — will take their high-powered, electricity-guzzling servers offshore. Exchanges of the digital money and the numerous Chinese startups linked to the trade also are expected to rebase offshore after dropping domestic customers from their rosters.
The shift highlights how virtual currencies can evade government regulation.
"The exchanges have been pushing offshore anyways, and with the exchange business you need cloud infrastructure, you need developers, you need management to move things in the right direction, and so whether that is sitting in Taipei, San Francisco, Singapore or Shanghai, it doesn't really matter — those businesses are very virtual," said Zennon Kapron, Singapore-based founder the financial consulting firm Kapronasia.
"The real impact we've probably seen though is in the miners, and most of those miners [are in] the process of shifting overseas or [have] already completed moving overseas," he said.
Strongest anti-crypto action to date
On Sept. 24, the People's Bank of China, Beijing's monetary authority, released a statement saying cryptocurrencies lack the status of other monetary instruments. The notice, issued in tandem with nine other government agencies, including the Bureau of Public Security, declared all related business illegal and warned that cryptocurrency transactions originating outside China will also be treated as crimes.
Explaining the ban, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday that cryptocurrencies have disrupted the controlled economy's financial systems and contributed to crimes such as money laundering.
Cryptocurrencies — digital commerce tools that aren't linked to a centralized banking authority — first appeared in China around 2008. Chinese banks began to prohibit the use of digital currencies in 2013 and stepped up regulations after 2016.
China was the world's biggest Bitcoin miner and supported the largest exchange by volume, according to the news website CryptoVantage. It says many of those who suddenly made millions when Bitcoin prices soared four years ago were in China.
Mining for digital currency — the process of using computers to enter bitcoins into circulation and verify cryptocurrency transactions in exchange for a payout — should get easier overseas as Chinese exit the market, Kapron said. | Photo by Sajad Nori on Unsplash
Chinese miners and traders head to Singapore
The Chinese ban carries penalties for international exchanges that do business with people inside China, and news reports indicate international crypto exchanges are trying to cut ties with Chinese clients in recent days. But the companies themselves are largely staying quiet.
A spokesperson for digital currency exchange Coinbase said Wednesday it does not "have anything to share at this time" about the crackdown in China. U.S.-based Worldcoin Global, a new type of cryptocurrency, did not reply to a request for comment.
China's growing pressure on crypto over the past few years had prompted stakeholders to leave the country, Kapron said, adding that less than a quarter of the country's original cryptocurrency peer-to-peer lending startups — small firms that connect individual lenders and borrowers — remain in China.
Mining for digital currency — the process of using computers to enter bitcoins into circulation and verify cryptocurrency transactions in exchange for a payout — should get easier overseas as Chinese exit the market, Kapron said.
Smaller operators, he added, may be able to mine more easily without the competition of giant Chinese operations.
Singapore looms as a prime go-to place for operations that need not be physically onshore. The country had accepted about 300 cryptocurrency license applications as of July. From China, e-commerce giant Alibaba as well as digital financial firms Yillion Group and Hande Group have applied, news reports in Asia say.
Other Asian countries lack the legal welcome mat that Singapore has extended, said Jason Hsu, vice president of the Taiwan Fintech Association industry group.
"Where would that money flow to? I think it's a question that needs to be answered," Hsu said. "I think in Asia, Singapore would be a destination for them to go to. Singapore obviously has the clearest regulations and also wants to attract more digital fintech [financial-technology] companies."
Outside Asia, Amsterdam and Frankfurt are "establishing their footprint as international centers" for financial technology, said Rajiv Biswas, Asia Pacific chief economist with market research firm IHS Markit. Financial technology covers cryptocurrency.
Western Europe ranked this year as the world's biggest crypto economy in the world with inflows of more than $1 trillion or 25% of all global trade, activity, news and data service Chainalysis says. Europe's surge follows similarly rapid growth in 2020.
Eventual resurgence for crypto in China?
Authorities in China are targeting crypto now as part of a wider "crackdown on overnight riches" and to "clean out the wild, wild West," Hsu said, referring to largely unregulated market sectors. The trade will go underground for now, he forecasts, and China will eventually come out with an official digital currency issued through major banks.
Several countries are considering adopting new digital currencies that would allow people to exchange money without an intermediary, such as a bank. Proponents argue these currencies could capture the benefits of cryptocurrencies that make exchanging money easy, but without the price volatility of decentralized digital assets like bitcoin.
Chinese authorities may eventually swing to a more tolerant view of non-state-sanctioned digital currencies, though subject to strict criteria on what's legal or otherwise, said Song Seng Wun, economist in the private banking unit of Malaysian bank CIMB. Blockchain, the core technology behind the public transaction ledger that makes crypto commerce transparent, could continue to develop in China for other ends, he added.
(This article is originally written by Ralph Jennings) (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, China, Market, Ban