China in the news, again, a lot.

My family has been boycotting China for some time. We try not to buy Chinese made products, over concerns regarding safety, quality, human rights in China, and Tibet. I often am heard to make the statement “Hard drive crashed, eh? Cheap crap made in China.” To be fair, we as a society love cheap over quaity, so we do this to ourselves.

I personally also worry that China, the last large dictatorship in the world, would not be unhappy to have a substantially weakened west, and a developing world in thrall to an emergent Middle Kingdom.

Not all of my family sees the China this way, I think that my wife believes my views of the world are corrupted by four years of Political Science at university while the cold war was just wrapping up. Sure I focused on foreign and defense policy, and it makes me realistic and or paranoid about strategic issues, but not necessarily wrong, as the news the last few weeks has born out.

If you follow me on Twitter of Facebook you know that I thought Google’s recent statements regarding China are really important. In a nutshell, Google found that they were being hacked by operatives in China, who were targeting company data, and especially the gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

Google did not say that this was an action taken by the Chinese government, but who else would target activists opposing China’s regime?

Google did not back down, as this article states several weeks later, they are still telling China that they will stop censoring searches. What happens next is up to China, and will send a message to the world.

Now, the Times of London reports that the government of the United Kingdom has been warning its top 300 companies that Chinese citizens and government operative might be trying to spy on them.

MI5 goes farther than Google, specifically saying agents of the Chinese government are attempting to hack government and business computers. Business travelers and government officials are warned that gifts from Chinese, be they USB drives or cameras, sometimes have hidden Trojan horse software design to give the Chinese access to any computer you plug it into.

China is now threatening sanctions against the USA if the USA sells arms to Taiwan. The Chinese continue to extend its sphere of influence in south east Asia, with moves to build offensive strategic weapons systems (ICBMs, aircraft carriers, submarine hunters) and Taiwan is doubly offensive, as it is a “break away province.” The US does tend to behave in domineering way, often offensive or can we say bossy, but by the same token, I don’t think the Taiwanese are really interested in rejoining Greater China.

I am a pretty liberal minded fellow, but please, why are we trading with China?   Is cheap crap filling Walmart worth the risk of enriching a corrupt dictatorship who’s regime only plays by international financial and trade rules when it is advantageous to them?

Will the world end if we start buying our cheap jogging suits from nations that actually had some form of democracy and respect for human rights? More importantly, countries with the willingness to continue to improve on their record, and more importantly, not spy on and attack us when it is convenient to them?

  • Don Dobson

    Very interesting Waye and yes, this is very important. Outright criminality may be behind some of these efforts as well as state action. Having hidden switches on the ol’ info highway could wreak havoc on our society. Like when US threatens to withhold debt payment or? Latest in NYTimes suggests that US and others security for this is woefully absent. This type of espionage albeit without the extra tech leverage of today is well known, so its not a stretch at all. Been practiced at the corporate level for key industries with more conventional “spymanship” for a long time. (Between lots of countries too not just China)| You know, the cheap thing-I’m thinking that climbing oil soon will put an end to lots of “cheap from afar” as their labor cost advantage will not be enough to overcome energy input cost. Sure, they are quite frankly scary crazy in their behaviour. Military build up very scary. Disengagement leads to…change from pressure within or their leadership will change their stripes??? I don’t dig what it has done for North Korea. Wildly different case, I know. Not saying I disagree with you and agree that economic punishment can be effective – just not sure with that crew. I’m thinking some trade with China is morally supportable, but of course if we are cut off, we can’t help them though our business and influence positive change. Nor earn some back from them. As you correctly point out they make their own rules as it suits them, starting with their currency (big issue right there) and thats intolerable. Rewarding positive states is always a good idea. I guess enagement/disenagement is a perennial poli sci debate? (Disclosure:Never took any)

  • Don Dobson

    Very interesting Waye and yes, this is very important. Outright criminality may be behind some of these efforts as well as state action. Having hidden switches on the ol’ info highway could wreak havoc on our society. Like when US threatens to withhold debt payment or? Latest in NYTimes suggests that US and others security for this is woefully absent. This type of espionage albeit without the extra tech leverage of today is well known, so its not a stretch at all. Been practiced at the corporate level for key industries with more conventional “spymanship” for a long time. (Between lots of countries too not just China)| You know, the cheap thing-I’m thinking that climbing oil soon will put an end to lots of “cheap from afar” as their labor cost advantage will not be enough to overcome energy input cost. Sure, they are quite frankly scary crazy in their behaviour. Military build up very scary. Disengagement leads to…change from pressure within or their leadership will change their stripes??? I don’t dig what it has done for North Korea. Wildly different case, I know. Not saying I disagree with you and agree that economic punishment can be effective – just not sure with that crew. I’m thinking some trade with China is morally supportable, but of course if we are cut off, we can’t help them though our business and influence positive change. Nor earn some back from them. As you correctly point out they make their own rules as it suits them, starting with their currency (big issue right there) and thats intolerable. Rewarding positive states is always a good idea. I guess enagement/disenagement is a perennial poli sci debate? (Disclosure:Never took any)

  • What are they going to do, nuke us? Not a chance. I think that WTO has rules, and should have more rules, around the environment, and actual fair market currency exchange. The yuan is not fairly traded. If we want to buddy up to an emergent superpower, at least India is a commonwealth nation, speaks English, and holds free and fair elections. 🙂

  • What are they going to do, nuke us? Not a chance. I think that WTO has rules, and should have more rules, around the environment, and actual fair market currency exchange. The yuan is not fairly traded. If we want to buddy up to an emergent superpower, at least India is a commonwealth nation, speaks English, and holds free and fair elections. 🙂

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