Dear America: Enough with the China-bashing already

Dear America: Enough with the China-bashing already

Summary: China is playing spy games? Prove it with real facts and actions, otherwise, stop thinking and behaving like you're the greatest country in the world.

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"Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?"

That question pretty much sums up why many in the U.S. are crying foul over a U.S. House of Representatives report which had urged the government and America's businesses not to associate with telecoms equipment manufacturers from China, specifically, Huawei and ZTE.

That question was posed in the pilot episode of American TV series, The Newsroom, and triggered news anchor Will McAvoy's (played by actor Jeff Daniels) public rant and meltdown. Sitting on a panel in front of university students, he snapped back: "It's not the greatest country in the world... [Is] America so star-spangled awesome that we're the only ones who have freedom? Canada has freedom, Japan has freedom, the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium...like 180 of [sovereign states in the world] have freedom."

McAvoy pointed out the lack of evidence to support the statement that America is the greatest country in the world, noting that it's only 7th ranked in literacy, 27th in Math, and 178th in infant mortality.

"We lead the world in only three categories: the number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending...where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies," he said. "So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don't know what the f*** you're talking about."

"First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore," McAvoy concluded.

So that's TV land you may argue, but unfortunately, in reality, there are Americans who do seem to think they still belong to the world's greatest nation. Americans who believe others shouldn't run "dangerously close to ticking America off", and who think nothing of accusing others of "sneaking around and spying" based on non-facts.

Pot. Kettle. Black. When you point the finger at someone, there're always four more pointing back at yourself.

Seriously, how many of us truly believe America itself isn't spying on others? No doubt Julian Assange and his Wikileaks full of documents would love to be in this conversation.

Heck, everybody spies--governments, organizations, even schools. It's the reality of the post-9/11 world we live in today. Think otherwise and you'll just be an ignorant, naïve idealist who probably still believes Santa Claus exists...oops.

More importantly, industry analysts have stepped up to say the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee report lacked any smoking gun on the security front. Ovum's principle analyst network infrastructure, Matt Walker, said of the report: "There is a confidential appendix and it's not clear what this includes, but the main conclusion of the report is pretty mild, in my opinion."

He pointed to a summary in the report which stated: "China has the means, opportunity, and motive to use telecommunications companies for malicious purposes." Walker said this would be hard to disprove and some of the concerns outlined in the report were valid. However, he noted they were not necessarily exclusive to China, or Chinese vendors.

In other words, the same could be said for any telecoms equipment maker from any country, the U.S. included. So, should the Chinese government also issue the same warning for businesses in China not to buy products from Cisco Systems, Avaya or HP?

In another report yesterday, a White House review found no evidence Huawei was guilty of spying on the U.S. but instead, uncovered shoddy coding which left the Chinese vendor's equipment vulnerable to hacking.

In its report, the House of Representatives also chided Huawei and ZTE for not being "forthcoming with detailed information" about its relationships with Chinese authorities and operations in the U.S., among other things.

Would Cisco be "forthcoming" too if it was put in an obviously hostile environment, and the Chinese government demanded "detailed information" about every bit of its operations and relations with the U.S. government?

Is there any market player in this global economy that would willingly divulge every detail about its operations to a foreign government entity? Details of its business operations which potentially could be leaked to competitors operating in that foreign economy?

The U.S. House report also highlighted Huawei's close commercial ties with the Chinese military as a source of concern. But wouldn't the military in every country have some kind of commercial dealings with its local ICT vendors? Cisco even has a product page dedicated to the U.S. government.

Writer and entrepreneur, Mark Manson, was spot on in his post about the "10 things most Americans don't know about America". Specifically, No. 7, "we're paranoid".

Manson wrote: "Not only are we emotionally insecure as a culture, I've come to realize how paranoid we are about our physical security... In the U.S., security trumps everything, even liberty. We're paranoid."

Before you point to my photo and say I'm Chinese and therefore, will blindly support my fellow comrades from China, let me state I was born and bred in Singapore, and I'm Singaporean...and no, for the 118th time, Singapore isn't part of or located in China

To accuse China, or any country for that matter, of spying without any solid evidence is simply wrong and unacceptable. And to do so when your own government is possibly guilty of the same charge is just plain hypocrisy.

If the U.S. government wants the world to believe China is indeed spying on the country, have the House Committee report produce the facts that prove this. And if it truly believes that, why is it engaging in cyber war games with the Chinese?

And if Americans truly believe the Huaweis and ZTEs of the IT industry are working as Chinese spies, they should make a stance instead with their wallets and stop buying products from all Chinese companies. Stop manufacturing in China even if that's the most cost-efficient business option, stop acquiring products that are made in China, and stop forming cybersecurity partnerships with the Chinese.

Of course the biggest losers in this could very well be the U.S. businesses and enterprise customers which now have to assess and make their IT buying decision based not on the best cost-performance option, but on one that Uncle Sam approves of. But hey, someone's gotta make a point, right?

It would also encourage Chinese tech vendors to reevaluate their business model and tweak their operations, if they're serious about expanding into the global marketplace.

So, America, land of the free, Starbucks and George W. Bushes, get over the China-bashing tirade already, would ya? You're starting to sound like a broken record and it's boring as hell.

Don't make you angry because we wouldn't like you when you're angry? Don't worry, keep talking and thinking no one else great can exist outside the U.S., and we won't like you even when you're not angry.

Topics: Telcos, Government Asia, Government US, Security, China

About

Eileen Yu began covering the IT industry when Asynchronous Transfer Mode was still hip and e-commerce was the new buzzword. Currently based in Singapore, she has over 16 years of industry experience with various publications including ZDNet, IDG, and Singapore Press Holdings.

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202 comments
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  • Makes me smile

    a lot. A lot of truth there.
    Andrej.G.
    • What a load of crap. Bash away until the chicoms are gone and the people

      are free. Yes they're spying on us, and using every available means including cyber and for both industrial and military purposes. Of course we spy on them to, it would be irresponsible not to. That still means recommending that no american businesses, government entities, or either for any of our allies, not buy spyware products from these manufacturers is a good idea. That would be helping them spy on us and our allies, whihc is not a good idea. Go ahead and buy chinese toys, appliances, etc. But not telecoms equipment. And yeah they are asking companies to vote with their wallets. Holy crap what a bunch of naive tripe.
      Johnny Vegas
  • Obama voter, right?

    The reason the US is the greatest country in the world is that we're the only country that, as a matter of principle, puts individual rights above the rights of the collective. Individual rights are an absolute in the US, at least they were until the 1930's. The statists have made great progress here as well as elsewhere in the world. Human beings actually have only two rights: The right to own property and the right to free trade. All other rights, such as freedom of speech/press/religion, merely derive from the right to property.

    The Chinese people are slaves to their government. The Chinese government has offices in corporate headquarters at Huawei and subsidizes them. The Chinese government decides what businesses in China are going to succeed and funnels them money. The Chinese government subsidizes the products of the chosen Chinese businesses so that they can sell product below cost in the US. If the Chinese government asked Huawei to spy on the US government, it is doubtful they could refuse. The Chinese government forces women to have abortions and kills people's dogs. China restricts the rights of citizens to move about the country and their access to parts of the Internet. There is no rule of law in China, no due process, no independent judiciary, no real restriction on the absolute power of government to crush the individual. We all remember Tiananmen Square. That's how China treats people who want freedom.

    The United States has its problems. China is an abomination.
    FDanconia
    • Someone drank the Kool-Aid

      'Nuf Said
      Astringent
      • Be realistic

        Child labor, low incomes and poor work conditions (especially when bashing Apple products) and to deny that of internet censorship that both people of China and people searching for information about China encounter still everyday? How can you deny Tiananmen Square and the fact China's own people want this known and understood by the rest of the world? Are you positive that China (not unlike to a lesser extent America) is not guilty of funding and tax preferences for businesses? Hell, just this past summer our liberally democrat governed areas were threatening Chick-Fil-A from expanding just for sharing an opinion on same sex marriage. People have left China in some cases to bare female children who may may never even see their homeland. I know America is not perfect, and am willing to listen people who have left their countries for some of the promises that may or may never be realized by coming to our shores. I have heard first hand some of their reasons for leaving, and that is proof enough, so that I might ask: Who are you to ask who is drinking the Kool-Aid?
        partman1969@...
        • Do not try

          to reason with bwitzke_8. He is an obvious troll.
          FDanconia
          • If they don't like what you say you are a troll

            Be adult FDanconia and take the greater needs of humanity into account before you blow off others perspectives.
            Astringent
          • @ bwitzke_8

            Whaaat?

            Please do a fact check before you post. FDanconia and partman1969 posted the truth. China is and will be a military and economic bully towards its immediate neighbors including Phillipines, Japan, Koreas, Vietnam, India and Taiwan as well as external peers including USA and Germany in terms of economic relationship. They steal IP, ideas, science and technology through all means possible for both military and economic reasons from both USA and Germany.

            Their IP laws are lousy and the State interferes in every economic decision processed by the citizenry. In fact, it sees its needs including military and especially Chinese Communist Party's needs as more paramount than ordinary citizen's need to be treated legally fair. This is the precise reason that central and eastern China are poor while the coastal and western Chinese geographies bask in the glory of exporting their low-cost copied crap to USA and Europe. The real problem of China is its demographic lack of control and institutional cronyism and institutional corruption. Which are also the problems in South Asia, Middle East and Central/East Africa.

            Will you blame USA for China's institutional problems?

            China and Chinese should learn to be humble and accept that USA is a better country and in fact still the greatest power on Earth so far. This is not withstanding the stupid outpourings of the author on this article.

            More importantly, they should stop corporate spying and stealing information without legally approval from USA. Until then, Huawei and ZTE should be banned. So should be CNOC. So should be Chinese banks.
            calahan
    • Freedom and Liberty

      Have you ever heard of the "Patriot Act"? Guantanamo Bay? Warrentless wiretapping?

      Have some more Kool Aid!
      jnowski
      • All very bad.....

        I agree all mentioned are American travesties, however you failed to mention Obama and the liberals have extended all of your mentioned problems and in fact strengthened the Patriot Act by coming up with his own: The National Defense Authorization Act, which now allows the federal government to detain American citizens under all the same conditions as the terrorists. If you're going to make lists why not be thorough?
        partman1969@...
        • It's bigger than that

          It's not Obama and the liberals. Simple observation shows that it doesn't matter who is in office. It just gets worse. Look for a thread that continues along no matter who is in the big seat.
          Astringent
      • @jnowski

        The patriot act is nothing compared to shutting off the internet to the entirety of Xinjiang for months. Guantanamo is nothing compared to the thousands of people executed in China every year, black jails, labor camps in tibet, removal of organs from prisoner's bodies to sell. Disagree with the government and a japanese medical tourist will get your kidney, heart, etc. and the day you die will depend on when the tourist arrives.
        goodnighteileen
        • Still...

          Just beacause the other guy has more glass in his house doesn't mean that it is wise to throw stones. There are consequences.
          Astringent
    • USA #1

      Didn’t realize this was a political blog. The US is losing millions (likely more that that) to the type of industrial (and other) spying Huawei and ZTE are suspected of perpetrating (I’ll bet there is convincing evidence, but we’ll likely not see to protect sources and methods). I can’t seem to find the “Flag” button for the OP; not that I wish to censor her, but this rant is mainly political and only tangentially related to technology and should be posted elsewhere.
      hkindle
      • What do you expect?

        ZDnet's parent company is Lamestream CBS!
        SElizDav
      • Losing millions due to other issues as well,

        which includes giving taxpayer money in return to companies that offshore (on top of their usual handouts we give them):


        http://www.ontheissues.org/SenateVote/Party_2005-63.htm
        (note which Democrats voted "NO" and which Republicans voted "YES", since people love to think there are no differences between the political parties…)

        As the issue read: "Voted __ on repealing tax subsidy for companies which move US jobs offshore. (Mar 2005)"

        The amendment was rejected, so the "NO" votes won. So, let's read this and think about it - giving taxpayer money to corporations that offshore (even to communist countries, like the ones we fought a few decades ago because communism was evil back then, unlike now). This means people in America are out of work as we're shipping jobs overseas. This also means we create a revenue problem because there are fewer working people to tax. Never mind skill rot and other problems that drives our country even farther behind... so now we have a revenue problem, increased debt and needing to borrow, while giving money to companies that offshore... talk about goofy...
        HypnoToad72
    • China bashing

      Before you start bleeting about post 911 USA, you should think what the F*** your saying. It's not a heavenly place as you mention and would like to think. in short, the ten best Countries to live are not definitely USA per your own magazine Kiplinger.
      eidekay@...
  • You proved...

    you proved why... cuz the best country in the world is the one everyone else gets so pissed off about for every little thing anyone in the country says. If it wasn't so great, people wouldn't care what anyone said.
    doh123
    • Ignorance

      People get pissed off with the blatant ignorance and lack of knowledge most of the American people express.
      AceInTheHole95
  • I did not even read the article, but china Sucks....

    Should never trust their government. Look at what they are doing in Iran and Syria. All the spying equipment for Iranian government owned Telecom sector to spy on their citizens come from Chinese companies with the approval of the chinese government. , and I rest my case about Syria, etc......We would be naive to think any differently other than their ill intention knowing that they are a dicatatorship supporting other dictators throughout the world as well. Let's not forget about all the viruses, hacks, malwares that are originated from china and who knows if the chinese government is not behind them all tha!!!!...AMERICA IS THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD and you better believe it...Can't you see, everyone wants to come to USA...I wonder how many people in the world would like to migrate to china????
    Nsaf