Trump's Facts-Optional Assault On Chinese Tech Continues With Blocking Of Xiaomi

from the glass-houses dept

All of these statements can be true:

  • The Chinese government engages in all manner of dangerous, unethical behavior and Chinese companies should be carefully monitored for threats to national security, facing productive penalties when public evidence is provided.
  • The US government engages in all manner of dangerous, unethical behavior and US companies should be carefully monitored for threats to national security, facing productive penalties when public evidence is provided.
  • Some of the US hyperventilation over Chinese tech and telecom is xenophobic nonsense exploited by US companies for financial gain.

Throughout the Trump administration's assault on Chinese companies, transparent evidence of wrongdoing has been an afterthought. There was little to no evidence provided by the administration to justify its year-long assault on TikTok, which arguably distracted government leaders from far more pressing threats to national security. Similarly, while blocklisted network hardware vendor Huawei engages in some atrocious behavior around the world, evidence that the company directly spies on US citizens at the behest of China (the core accusation) has also never been publicly proven, despite ample hyperventilation.

Fast forward to last week, when the Trump administration announced it had blocklisted Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi for its alleged ties to the Chinese military:

"The Defense Department said that Xiaomi, along with eight other firms it added to its blacklist, was working to support China’s People’s Liberation Army by giving it access to its technology. In a statement, the Defense Department accused Xiaomi of being part of an orchestrated campaign to support the "modernization goals of the People's Liberation Army by ensuring its access to advanced technology and expertise."

The problem, again, is that there's no evidence of this, and when the shoe is on the other foot, US companies get understandably angry. Xiaomi, which recently passed Apple to become the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, has denied any connection to the Chinese military, and the Trump administration has provided no evidence that one exists. A not insubstantial portion of these efforts are driven by xenophobia and greed (in many instances US companies just don't want to compete with cheaper kit), yet there's an over-arching pretense in the press that this somehow isn't the case.

The other problem we like to downplay is the US' blistering hypocrisy on this subject. US telecom giant AT&T is fused so tightly to our global intelligence efforts, you'd have a hard time physically determining where AT&T ends and the NSA begins. The US had no problem breaking into Huawei to install its own backdoors, or stealing network hardware in transit to install backdoors, or, you know, spying on absolutely everybody, including allies, all the time, for several generations, with zero respect for boundaries or the rule of law. We provided IT support to a continent of brutal fascists during Operation Condor, for fuck's sake.

If the US wants to be taken seriously on this subject, it has a hell of a lot of work to do, starting with leading by example. And again, if there's direct evidence that a Chinese company has been spying on Americans, then provide it and let's have a transparent conversation about it. But most coverage and discussion of Trump's war on Chinese tech involves pretending a lack of public evidence is okay, pretending the US' dodgy history on this very subject doesn't exist, pretending that a lot of these efforts aren't driven by bigotry or simple greed, and pretending that the Trump administration has any idea whatsoever what it's doing.

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Filed Under: china, donald trump
Companies: xiaomi


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  1. icon
    TKnarr (profile), 19 Jan 2021 @ 9:48am

    Given the Trump administration's track record, I'd say their accusations against Xiaomi are probably a good indication Xiaomi isn't in fact working with the Chinese military and their biggest offenses are offering better kit at lower prices than American manufacturers and/or failing to cooperate with US intelligence agencies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jan 2021 @ 10:14am

    If the US wants to be taken seriously on this subject, it has a hell of a lot of work to do, starting with leading by example.

    Don't you mean, "leading with examples"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jan 2021 @ 10:23am

    Re:

    Leading by example - in business, if you wish your subordinates to take responsibility independently thenyou are first in line to take that responsibility. You are setting the example.

    Leading with examples does not make more sense in the above example.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jan 2021 @ 10:30am

    I wonder how republicans and/or Trumpist would react if countries banned sales of Boeing civilian aircraft because Boeing supplies the US military.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    stine, 19 Jan 2021 @ 11:21am

    Re:

    The same way they'd ban Airbus...

    Now if you had said 'because Boeing is subject to NSL letters' that would have been a valid reason (in fact for no U.S. manufacturer to be trusted)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    ECA (profile), 19 Jan 2021 @ 11:56am

    great argument.

    I also love the idea that the internals of our gov. seem to be about 10-20 years Behind in other aspects.
    The pentagon and the IRS have 2 of the oldest Mainframes left from 1969.
    There is data in those machines that Seems not to be able to extract, so we keep them.
    If you dont know, is that a Subsection inside the CPU has components designed years ago, and added New parts over old, just to make the chip compatible with the past.

    "Meltdown affects a wide range of systems. At the time of disclosure, this included all devices running any but the most recent and patched versions of iOS,[5] Linux,[6][7] macOS,[5] or Windows."
    If you look at the list, it shows the Software affected, but all Operating systems are affect as this is a hardware failure.
    (x87, IA-32, MMX, 3DNow!, SSE, SSE2, PAE, x86-64, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE4, BMI, AVX, AES, FMA, XOP, F16C)

    And abit more. And thinking that Our system of Fed Policing Would keep one or more agencies from Slipping something into Architecture IS a bit paranoid.
    But if we pointed to Another nation and Suggested Such a thing was happening.

    But there there is 1 Big point, about security. Monitoring Input and output of a system, is your Best protection. But why arnt so many companies doing it? even if there were abit of LAg in the system Just to note Who was doing WHAT. It could save allot of headaches.
    But being the best protection, isnt enough, if you want REAL security. There are a few other steps if you want privacy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    ECA (profile), 19 Jan 2021 @ 12:01pm

    Re:

    US gov backs Lots og things.
    Farmers(the corps get the money)
    Banks(we do this allot)(they own everything anyway)
    Exports of Food(supported by our taxes)
    Then dropping all the taxes on the big corps.

    Our taxes subsidize so much in this nation, that pointing fingers at China and Russia, is abit Ridiculous. We even send money to Tibet, to assist natives, and Piss off China.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 19 Jan 2021 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Re:

    Both are actually accurate in this instance, as the US taking privacy concerns when it comes to US companies rather than just when it comes to foreign ones would add credibility when those concerns are raised, and actually providing examples of the things they are accusing other companies of would add some credibility to those claims as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 21 Jan 2021 @ 1:36am

    Re:

    "...and their biggest offenses are offering better kit at lower prices than American manufacturers and/or failing to cooperate with US intelligence agencies."

    Probably so. The US first ridding itself of almost all its electronic manufacturing capacity only to do a 180 turnaround and desperately try to save their suddenly ailing companies with naked and obvious protectionism is a sad clown show to observe.

    It's like watching someone saw off the tree branch they're sitting on and try to drag other people not dumb enough to do that down with them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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