30/4/01 China crisis? What China crisis? Let's not worry about American spy planes, American arms sales, American national missile defences, or American policy statements that are tasty enough at the time (but somehow you need another two hours later). All of the above can be put down to sabre rattling, but the loyal armies of the two sides are content to follow orders and not actually shoot at each other. Not so the untrammelled masses of Internet youth, who choose to express their feelings on the matter by hacking the opposition's web sites. Fans of comparative culture studies will find enough here to keep them going for decades -- the Chinese deface US sites with noble cries against imperial hegemonic oppression and eulogies for lost pilot Wei. America's finest, however, prefer to post porn and psalms of praise for pot smoking -- pick the bones out of that, anthropologists. All good fun, even if people bashing together Windows scripts on battered old PCs is a far cry from Neuromancer's coruscating battles in cyberspace. So far, neither government has said anything about it except to warn the people to lock up their disk drives. National pride's at stake -- Zhu Lilan, Minister of Science and Technology, said "People say the moon is rounder than the one in China. I can say Chinese firewalls are harder than those foreign ones." (European Philosophical Spokesman Of The Obscure, Eric Cantona, replied "If the sparrows see breadcrumbs on the kitchen table, it is no sin to close the window".) Should you feel tempted to sign up for this latest children's crusade, however, be aware. Both sides fear rebellion from within more than they distrust the other, and both are keenly aware of the potential should their own hackers form a cohesive, effective and independent force. Big Brother is watching the packet sniffer.