Displaying items by tag: Military

The White House has intervened in a business transaction between a Chinese-backed private equity firm and a US chipmaker. US President Donald Trump has blocked Canyon Bridge Capital Partners planned $1.3 billion acquisition of Lattice Semiconductor Corp. The decision has sent a clear message to Beijing that Washington will vehemently oppose any takeover deals that involve technologies that may have potential military applications. The bid by the Chinese-backed equity company was one of the largest ever attempted on the US microchip sector.

US regulators became more focused on the business activities Canyon Bridge were engaging in when it emerged that the firm was largely funded by capital from China’s central government and had indirect links to its space program. In addition to this, Canyon Bridge came across the radar of US defense officials when it became clear that company behind the Lattice acquisition bid was backed by the Chinese government – and this subsequently sparked severe security concerns.

Lattice Semiconductor Corp is headquartered in Oregon and makes chips known as field-programmable gate arrays, which enables companies to put their own software on silicon chips for different uses. The company publicly stated that it didn’t sell its chips to the US military anymore, unlike its two biggest competitors, Xilinx and Intel’s Altera.

It has been reported that President Trump stated in an executive order that Lattice and the Chinese-backed private equity firm shall take all steps necessary to fully and permanently abandon the proposed transaction within 30 days. Trump’s decision echoes the sentiments of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), which is a body that scrutinizes deals for potential national security threats.

US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin issued a statement confirming that both the CFIUS and the President have assessed that the transaction between the two companies pose a risk to the national security of the United States, and furthermore can’t be resolved through mitigation. The US Treasury Secretary did highlight that the risk of national security was related to the potential transfer of intellectual property and the Chinese government’s direct involvement in the deal.

However, China has expressed their disappointment and concern regarding the decision made by the US President and the US Committee on Foreign Investment. Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said he respected the US was fully in within its rights to examine the security implications surrounding potential foreign investment, but he was disappointed by how the US had conducted itself during its investigation.

He said, “We believe conducting security examinations of investments in sensitive sectors is a country’s legitimate right, but it should not become a tool for advancing protectionism and we hoped that the United States could view Chinese firms’ acquisitions objectively and provide fair treatment to what was their “normal commercial behavior”. Lattice and Canyon Bridge released a joint statement on Wednesday declaring that they had terminated the proposed deal. Lattice also said it is committed to achieving profitable growth.

Published in Government

Police in Thailand have apprehended and arrested nine people on suspicion of hacking a number of government websites in recent days, which caused huge disruption to some services. It is believed that the hacking was conducted in response to a controversial cyber censorship law which was passed by government figures earlier this month.

The new cybersecurity law allows moderators to more easily remove web content it disapproves of. The new law will prohibit people from accessing or uploading anything deemed ‘in breach of good morality’ and enables a new committee to effectively remove websites.

There has been an angry response to the new legislation, with many Thai residents feeling the act of censorship is an attack on democracy and free expression. In protest, hackers targeted several government websites which caused widespread disruption over the last number of days. Some have been temporarily disabled by so-called denial of service attacks – which is a type of assault that overwhelms a website using networks of computers.

Some hackers have claimed that the infiltration of government databases have provided them with a lot of sensitive information. There had been reports that the military had made arrests in response to the hacking – but official confirmation was only disclosed on Monday.

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister, Prawit Wongsuwan said: “We have arrested some hackers, there were about nine people and we will continue arresting them. The suspect confessed that he faked an identity and accessed the system (of) the royal police office.”

In the last number of years, since military generals gained power, incidents of national security offences have been handled by the Thai military. However, it was police in Bangkok who paraded the 19 year-old hacking suspect who was subject to interrogation for an undisclosed period of time.

Rights groups and cyber activists have vowed to challenge the new law in the courts. Thailand already has a string of laws that opponents say curbs debate, including a draconian lese majeste offence outlawing criticism of the monarchy and sweeping legislation on criminal defamation.

The new cyber law is itself an update of the 2007 Computer Crimes Act which was initially drawn up to target criminals using the web for scams, but later morphed into a tool to pursue critics. Many of those charged with royal defamation in recent years have found themselves simultaneously hit with computer crime charges. Thailand's junta have largely curbed public dissent by banning political gatherings and arresting those who demonstrate.

As a result the internet remains one of the few areas where discussion can take place, but often at great risk. Royal defamation, sedition and computer crime cases have skyrocketed under military rule, often for comments made on social media. Critics say the new cyber law will also do little to further the junta's stated aim of turning the kingdom into a regional digital hub.

Published in Government