China: Netizens make fun of charges for hacking Google

The so-called ‘Operation Aurora’, which attacked Google and at least 33 other western conglomerates, allegedly originated from two Chinese universities, according to a recent New York Times story. One of these ‘universities’ is, in fact, an obscure 4th- tier vocational school in Northern China. It is Shandong Lan Xiang Advanced Vocational College, which hitherto was known only for training automobile technicians.

The immediate surprise in Chinese cyberspace is not so much focused on the fact that Google’s recent accusation has been partly confirmed by the article, but that a school like Lan Xiang could even be considered as a candidate for carrying out such a sophisticated attack. Many have speculated that Lan Xiang’s administrators must have been filled with joy since their school has been rocketed to international fame without spending a penny on advertising. The following are some comments taken from


Looking for job? Go to study in Lan Xiang!


So, the students at Lan Xiang have really surpassed those old American computer geeks?


This is such a great free commercial for Lan Xiang!


Couldn’t you (New York Times) blame more probable candidates like Tsinghua or Beijing University? Lan Xiang?! You Americans should be so ashamed of yourselves. An undistinguished technical school from China is capable of attacking a world-class search engine giant at will? China must be truly formidable!

On Lan Xiang’s public webpage in, people came from everywhere to pay their tributes. Typical entries were “Chinese student delegates from Kyoto University congratulate Lan Xiang” and “Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics send their congratulations”.

The story also provides perfect material for more overt satire:


The alarmed Americans use Google to defame our nation’s most prestigious school, in a vain hope to challenge Lan Xiang’s insurmountable position in the international community. The spokesperson for Lan Xiang commented that even though Lan Xiang students have acquired adequate skills to destroy a website of US government, stringent discipline and the high level of student integrity guarantee that such attack would never happen. More importantly, our students are busy with conducting more important scientific research and we would not waste their time in attacking an ordinary search engine.

Despite all the sarcasm, is Lan Xiang really behind all this? A casual look at the posts in the same public page written before the New York Times report seems to suggest that Lan Xiang is a very ordinary school indeed!


In terms of education, there is a lot of theoretical education, but hands-on learning opportunities are rare. The equipment is mostly decrepit, while the good pieces are only for show. In terms of tuition and fees, tuition is paid up-front. Not only that, the school forces you to buy what they cannot dispose of using other means. There are also endless fees of all sorts and they never even provide any invoice! In terms of dining, the cafeteria is chaotic. It is hard to find what you really want to eat. The food is all made in big woks and is worse than prison food!


I also graduated from there. I hardly know what to say about that school. They are swindlers.

Is there really enough evidence to implicate Lan Xiang? Furthermore, will the evidence matter at all amidst the overall surge of nationalistic public opinion in China? We must wait and see how this drama plays out.


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