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The Huawei Way
China Pushes for Proprietary Tech

Beijing plans to junk most of its foreign-made technology and switch to homegrown hardware and software, Bloomberg reports:

China is aiming to purge most foreign technology from banks, the military, state-owned enterprises and key government agencies by 2020, stepping up efforts to shift to Chinese suppliers, according to people familiar with the effort. […]

Foreign suppliers may be able to avoid replacement if they share their core technology or give China’s security inspectors access to their products, the people said. The technology may then be seen as safe and controllable, they said.

China ranks second behind the U.S. in technology spending, with outlays rising 8.1 percent to $182 billion last year, according to research firm IDC. The U.S. spent $656 billion, a 4.2 percent increase over 2012.

The push to develop local suppliers comes as Chinese regulators have pursued anti-trust probes against western companies, including Microsoft and Qualcomm Inc. Recent months have seen Microsoft’s China offices raided, Windows 8 banned from government computers and Apple Inc. iPads excluded from procurement lists.

As Bloomberg notes, this move is also a reaction to the Snowden revelations, which disclosed that Western technology firms are frequently complicit in U.S. spying efforts. (Microsoft, for example, was revealed to have accommodated NSA requests).

China is not the first or only country to consider policy measures for minimizing the information security risk of using foreign technology for key state functions—Russia, for example, has made noises about this too. But unlike Russia, China may actually have the capacity to follow through with it, as the example of telecom giant Huawei demonstrates. It might be expensive and it won’t happen overnight, but Beijing has decided that further developing its own high-tech sector is worth the price—not only to avoid American eyes, but also for the spillover benefits it will have for China’s military and industrial growth.

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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I’m thinking China has a really bad track record at developing technology. They have been trying for 20 years to build a decent jet engine, and even with Russian engines to reverse engineer they still can’t equal even the Russian expertise not to mention Western expertise. China has been stealing every piece of technology it can for decades, but it hasn’t done them anymore good than the same thieving did for the extinct Soviet Union.

  • Fat_Man

    Why give the Chinese technology, when they have stolen everything that is not nailed down?

    • Corlyss

      So we can spike it with defective code and design that will take them years to figure out. You have to think strategically . . .

      • Fat_Man

        Well if they stolen the designs for the F35, they will have that problem. Sadly, we are doing it because we are incompetent, not because we are trying to.

  • Corlyss

    “China is pushing to develop homegrown technology so that it doesn’t have to use potentially bugged American products.”

    Look, they can’t do or they would have done it already. Wake me when they have their first Nobel winner, because believe me the morons in Norway are just dying to award them a meaningful Nobel that would herald their rise to equality with the West in important disciplines, not those fuzzy spongy ones like “peace.”

    The technology superiority in the West, particularly the US, is the result of centuries of the kind of social and intellectual dynamism that is simply IMPOSSIBLE in cultures where dissent is punished, orthodoxy is exalted, and harmony is the single most respected state for a society.

    • Josephbleau

      Please, the Swedes pass out the glitter for everything but “Peace.” Norge is only responsible for that stupidity.

      • Corlyss

        Thanks for the correction. How’d it happen that the Swedes don’t do that too? I am puzzled.

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