back to article DoJ charges pair over China-linked attempt to build semi-autonomous crypto haven on nuked Pacific atoll

About halfway between The Philippines and Hawaii is a place called Rongelap Atoll that’s infamous for having been unintentionally irradiated by nuclear weapons tests conducted by America at nearby Bikini Atoll in 1954. The atoll’s thousand-strong populace was not told of the high-yield thermonuclear tests code-named Castle …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "offers to connect and secure small island nations"

    Secure ? With the Chinese Navy ?

    It will be quite expensive to have a warship stationed next to every tiny piece of rock in the Pacific.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: "offers to connect and secure small island nations"

      I imagine the security offered is much like the security the US would offer such places - the threat that a warship will come if there's trouble not one permanently stationed there.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: "offers to connect and secure small island nations"

      All you have to do is build a few naval bases on such islands so that, if you need to send a ship to one that doesn't have a base, there's one nearby. Countries like that idea because it enables them to send ships to places they don't have agreements with just as quickly, which is why the largest countries or ones that used to have empires have large collections of bases in other people's countries and in some cases, islands with little or no native population whose entire purpose is to be naval and air bases far from the country itself.

  2. Lordrobot

    Aside from havng NUKED THE Island, Murica owns everything right... except radiation?

    IS this any different from the way lobbyists operate?

    "Which may be why, according to the DoJ, Yan and Zhou allegedly bribed government officials and legislators to advance their scheme to create a digital economic zone.

    The DoJ alleges the pair sourced the funds for illegal payments to legislators and officials “from China and elsewhere”.

    And the payments are alleged to have worked as in 2020 the Marshall Islands government passed a bill to allow the establishment of the Rongelap Atoll Special Administrative Region, although nothing seems to have come of the plan since.

    Yan and Zhou have been charged with conspiring to, and breaching, the USA’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The pair also face charges of actual and planned money laundering."

    This is ludicrous that the US claims to step in with their own laws to correct the Marshal Island legislators. Then establishes some crazy PRE-CRIME theory when "nothing seems to have come from the plan since" approval.

    Let's talk about the "SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP" the US has with the Marshal Islands. It is very special indeed...

    Runit Dome holds more than 3.1 million cubic feet of U.S.-produced radioactive soil and debris, including lethal amounts of plutonium. Nowhere else has the United States saddled another country with so much of its nuclear waste, a product of its Cold War atomic testing program.

    Between 1946 and 1958, the United States detonated 67 nuclear bombs on, in and above the Marshall Islands — vaporizing whole islands, carving craters into its shallow lagoons and exiling hundreds of people from their homes.

    U.S. authorities later cleaned up contaminated soil on Enewetak Atoll, where the United States not only detonated the bulk of its weapons tests but, as The Times has learned, also conducted a dozen biological weapons tests and dumped 130 tons of soil from an irradiated Nevada testing site. It then deposited the atoll’s most lethal debris and soil into the dome.

    I don't want to hear the US virtue signalling over the Marshall Islands that they effectively turned into a Nuclear Dump site.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Aside from havng NUKED THE Island, Murica owns everything right... except radiation?



    2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      RTFM (Well, the indictment)

      The hook the 'Mucans have is the people they charged were running a New York, USA-based NGO, that the people charged were employees, agents, etc. of that NGO, and that the bribary happened in the US. Those are key things the US gov't has to prove in court to show US law is applicable to this situation.

    3. veti Silver badge

      Re: Aside from havng NUKED THE Island, Murica owns everything right... except radiation?

      The fact that the US has a dubious history in the Marshalls does not conclusively prove that no one else has any nefarious plans involving them.

      In fact, the one is not even tangentially related to the other.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am all for encouraging (or forcing) billionaires onto a radioactive tax haven, where they can crypto the (brief) rest of their lives away.

  4. johnB


    Best for a some time. In the best El Reg tradition.

  5. fxkeh

    Team America!

    So... two Marshall Island citizens lobby to make changes in the Marshall Islands and they're arrested in Thailand and extradited to the US - if they committed a crime isn't that something for the Marshall Islands to prosecute? What right does the United States have to get involved?

    If they going to repeat this action for every country there are plenty of MPs in the UK with "connections" to companies that received government contracts in the last few years I wouldn't object to joining Yan and Zhou.

    1. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

      Re: Team America!

      The USA thinks it owns the world.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Team America!

      The Marshall Islands, while nominally an independent country, is really a protectorate of the United States.

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Team America!

      The U.S. alleges that they committed the crime using U.S.-based organizations and inside the U.S. If they're wrong about that, then they don't get to charge them. If they're right, they do. That works for other countries as well.

  6. Dave 107

    a case of might makes right

    Imagine a boat in international waters with a container full of servers, attempting to do the same via a starlink connection. Or a poor African country. The schoolyard bully just won't allow it, even if you're in a different jurisdiction, and they have the nuclear weapons to back it up. The easy way would have been to just disrupt their network connection. Instead they make an example to dissuade others, and blame China. Actually surprised they didn't blame Russia. Just like the old bumper sticker, Don't steal, the gov't hates competition.

  7. that one in the corner Silver badge

    Adding radioactivity into the mix

    is barely going to change the toxic nature of cryptocurrency.

  8. Clausewitz4.0 Bronze badge

    Paraphrasing Sonny

    Goddamned FBI don't respect nothin'

  9. GrapeBunch

    Music to ears

    It's not clear to me why a US internal gov't department is meddling.

    Near the end of WW II, USA leaned upon neutral Ireland not to accept ex-NAZI immigrants. Telling Ireland what to do, given the history, was not a classy move. Or maybe it was a class move, but of the wrong sort. Of course, USA did welcome ex-NAZIs, as immortalized by Tom Lehrer in the lyrics of his song "Wernher von Braun"

    ... "Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?

    That's not my department!" says Wernher von Braun

    ... In German, und Englisch, I know how to count down

    Und I'm learning Chinese!" says Wernher von Braun "

    which sound curiously apt for this story.

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Music to ears

      Nothing curious about it. While the CCP might not have been nearly as forthright about its goals 57 years ago as it is today, it was been completely clear for the last 40+ that I've been old enough to pay attention. Given that Project 596 was completed the year before, however, it's probably just an obvious reference to the arms race.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Music to ears

        He probably was considering that, but it's also one of a few languages that fits in that line. To fit, the language name in English would have to be two syllables with the second accented. The only ones I can think of that have that pattern are Chinese, Burmese, Maltese, and Malay. Not a lot of choices. I suppose you could also manage with a three-syllable one accented on the second (Korean, Marathi, Norwegian, Swahili), but those aren't great either.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    (Your new ear worm)

  11. RLWatkins

    "crypto haven"?

    Great headline, but "crypto haven"?

    Wasn't the whole point of cryptocurrencies that they were utterly decentralized, not reliant on specific computing hosts, and not subject to any central authority or geographic boundaries?

    So now we have companies which endeavor to control crypto transactions, and places like "crypto havens", and my irony meter has burned out again.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like