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The Strange Tale Of A Chinese Interview With A Charlie Hebdo Witness

An odd postscript to the dramatic events in Paris that says much about the evolving state of the media in China, which sometimes can be as "free" as it wants to be.

Wang Fanghui's interview with Chinese state television
Wang Fanghui's interview with Chinese state television
CCTV
Zhang Jin

BEIJING — I received an unexpected email from a Chinese witness to last week's terror attack on the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The note came from Wang Fanghui, who was my classmate in college. He has been living in France and I haven't seen him for more than 20 years.

Wang came face-to-face with the two masked gunmen who killed 12 people at Charlie Hebdo"s offices on January 7. They briefly entered his office, he says, and one of the masked men fired a single shot. If this is true, Wang witnessed the first shot of an attack that shook a nation.

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Future

Cyber War Chronicles: Meet The Hackers Taking On Russia

The war in Ukraine is not just being fought on the ground. The battle for dominance increasingly happens on the digital field, where a worldwide network of cyber-soldiers conduct attacks to disrupt Russia's war effort, from the outside and inside too.

Cameron Manley

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Russian and Ukrainian hackers have been fighting tit for tat on what we can call the "digital front line." To quantify the firepower involved, the number of ransomware attacks on Russian companies has tripled since Feb. 28, according to Kaspersky Lab, a Russian multinational cybersecurity firm that found a direct link between the uptick in online targeting to the breakout of military conflict in Ukraine.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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