What We See as a Marketplace, Our Enemies View as a Battle Space

by Kevin D. Freeman on June 21, 2018

One of the most serious challenges of the global economic war is America’s unwillingness to face reality. We have very real enemies and adversaries who know they are at war with us. We, however, seem to have no clue regarding that fact. As a result, we see trading partners and globalization very optimistically without any regard to the possible motive behind other nation’s actions. For some, this is simply being naive. For others, however, greed overcomes their better judgment as they sell out our future. Either way, most of America has been blind to the very real risks that exist.

Case in point. Google is reaching out to China even as China is demonstrating belligerence.

From The New York Times on June 18:

Google, Rebuilding Its Presence in China, Invests in Retailer JD.com

BEIJING — Google’s best-known products have been blocked by the authorities in mainland China for years. If the American internet giant wants that to change someday, then half a billion dollars’ worth of good will couldn’t hurt.

Google will invest $550 million in the Chinese online retailer JD.com, the two companies said on Monday. In return, JD.com will join the Google Shopping advertising platform, and will work with the Silicon Valley company on other e-commerce projects in Europe, Southeast Asia and the United States.

The companies did not provide details of the projects. According to a JD.com spokesman, the deal will give Google less than 1 percent of the Chinese retailer’s shares, which trade on the Nasdaq.

Google pulled its search engine out of China in 2010, deciding that it would no longer censor its own search results as required by Beijing. But lately, the company has been looking for other ways to serve the planet’s largest population of internet users. [To CONTINUE READING at The New York Times]

In other words, Google took a principled stand against China in 2010 when some could still argue that China was going to be a friend and positive trading partner. Since then, however, we’ve seen massive crackdowns in China on free speech, church growth, and human rights while increasing hacking, surveillance, and establishing Xi as defacto President for Life. And yet, Google is willing to work with China. On June 18, The Daily Beast noted the serious issue of “Exit Bans” that can even deny US citizens from leaving China if the government want to keep them as leverage against the USA.

One very recent example of Chinese aggressiveness is a massive hack into our satellite and defense companies. From CNBC on June 19:

China-based hacking campaign is said to have breached satellite, defense companies

Reuters via CNBC June 19, 2018

A sophisticated hacking campaign launched from computers in China burrowed deeply into satellite operators, defense contractors and telecommunications companies in the United States and southeast Asia, security researchers at Symantec Corp said on Tuesday.

Symantec said the effort appeared to be driven by national espionage goals, such as the interception of military and civilian communications.

Such interception capabilities are rare but not unheard of, and the researchers could not say what communications, if any, were taken. More disturbingly in this case, the hackers infected computers that controlled the satellites, so that they could have changed the positions of the orbiting devices and disrupted data traffic, Symantec said. [To CONTINUE READING at CNBC…]

This is not an isolated incident. In fact, over just the past few weeks we have learned of multiple hacking efforts targeting our nation’s security including our ships and submarines as well as fighter jets. These are not the actions of a friend.

So, has China loosened up on the Internet rules that caused Google to pull out in 2010? Absolutely not. In fact, things have gotten much. much worse. From The Atlantic on June 18:

Beijing Wants to Rewrite the Rules of the Internet

Xi Jinping wants to wrest control of global cyber governance from the market economies of the west.

…. In late April, just days after the Commerce Department announced the denial order against ZTE, Xi Jinping, the president of China, gave a major speech laying out his vision to turn his country into a “cyber superpower.” His speech, along with other statements and policies he has made since assuming power, outlines his government’s ambition not just for independence from foreign technology, but its mission to write the rules for global cyber governance—rules that look very different from those of market economies of the West. This alternative would include technical standards requiring foreign companies to build versions of their products compliant with Chinese standards, and pressure to comply with government surveillance policies. It would require data to be stored on servers in-country and restrict transfer of data outside China without government permission. It would also permit government agencies and critical infrastructure systems to source only from local suppliers.

China, in other words, appears to be floating the first competitive alternative to the open internet—a model that it is steadily proliferating around the world. As that model spreads, whether through Beijing’s own efforts or through the model’s inherent appeal for certain developing countries with more similarities to China than the West, we cannot take for granted that the internet will remain a place of free expression where open markets can flourish. [To CONTINUE READING at The Atlantic]

Does this mean that Google is willing to conform to China’s demands? That is a very frightening proposition given all of the sway that Google has over American thought. Google search results can literally determine what a large segment of our population thinks on a given subject. And we know that the Chinese use every means of propaganda including education and entertainment to influence America.

Many see the Google investment as simply another sign of good global cooperation. In other words, it is a marketplace. Unfortunately, the Chinese likely view this as a battlespace opportunity.

Even more concerning than Google’s investment in JD.com is the recently revealed ties Google is developing with Huawei Technologies. Huawei has ties to the People’s Liberation Army according to our intelligence community and some industry experts. They are a major maker of global smartphones. And now, Google has chosen to work with them even as Google has stopped working with the United States government on a sensitive project. From CNBC on June 21:

Lawmakers accuse Google of supporting China’s Communist Party over the US with Huawei ties

Lawmakers have urged Alphabet’s Google to reconsider its ties with Chinese technology giant Huawei because it “could pose a serious risk to U.S. national security” and American consumers.

In a letter to the search giant’s CEO Sundar Pichai on Wednesday, both Republican and Democrat lawmakers said they were concerned about Google’s “strategic partnership” with Huawei. The two have a long-standing relationship. Huawei, which is now the third-largest smartphone maker in the world by market share, runs a version of Google’s Android mobile operating system on its devices. And in January, they formed a partnership to work on a new standard of mobile phone messaging.

Huawei is one of China’s largest technology companies producing consumer electronics alongside its core telecommunications equipment business.

What appeared to annoy lawmakers was the fact that Google continued to work with Huawei when earlier this month it had stopped working with the U.S. government on a scheme called Project Maven. The project used Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology to analyze drone footage and images to improve the targeting of drone strikes. Many employees were angry at the fact Google was working with the military. [To CONTINUE READING at CNBC…]

Let’s face facts. China is at best a competitor and more than likely views us as an enemy. Yet American industry continues to be blinded by the potential of accessing Chinese markets. Here is a White House report covered by CNBC on June 19:

White House says China’s ‘economic aggression’ is a global threat

The Trump administration ratcheted up its criticism of China in a report released by the White House on Tuesday detailing its claims of “economic aggression” by the Asian giant.

The 35-page report titled “How China’s Economic Aggression Threatens the Technologies and Intellectual Property of the United States and the World” came a day after President Donald Trump threatened to slap additional tariffs on goods from China, setting off market turmoil.

China “has experienced rapid economic growth to become the world’s second largest economy while modernizing its industrial base and moving up the global value chain. However, much of this growth has been achieved in significant part through aggressive acts, policies, and practices that fall outside of global norms and rules (collectively, ‘economic aggression’),” the White House report said in its opening.

It goes on to describe practices through which China “seeks to access the crown jewels of American technology and intellectual property.”

Chinese acts of “economic aggression,” according to the report, include physical and cyber-enabled theft of technologies and intellectual property, evading U.S. export control laws, counterfeiting, piracy and reverse engineering. [To CONTINUE READING at CNBC…]

It’s not just our government feeling the economic coercion. The IMF and others are very concerned that China is using its “Belt and Road” initiative to get countries in a debt trap and then exercise undue leverage over policies. Several nations have expressed concern about China attempting to influence their governments and decision making. Influencing Google and infiltrating American smartphones would seem like an ideal way to continue that effort.

Despite these truths, most corporations blindly continue on seeing only globalization and a marketplace while China clearly is attacking a battle space. You know better. This is a global economic war. The sooner we acknowledge that fact the sooner we can address the threat.


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