China slams US for unscrupulous spying then wants IBM servers out of banks

After the Chinese government news agency Xinhua published a five-page report claiming the U.S. “exposed its ugly face” with “unscrupulous” surveillance, China is pushing its domestic banks to remove IBM servers and replace them with a local brand. This is the latest fallout since the U.S. charged five Chinese hackers with cyber-espionage.

China strikes back after DOJ cyber-espionage hacking charges
Image: Vin Crosbie/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder filed “first-of-its-kind cyber-espionage charges against five Chinese military officials accused of hacking U.S. companies to steal trade secrets. The alleged victims included Alcoa World Alumina, Westinghouse Electric Co., Allegheny Technologies, U.S. Steel Corp., United Steelworkers Union, and SolarWorld. Supposedly charging each of the Chinese hackers with 31 criminal counts spanning eight years was the plan a year ago, but everything got turned upside down after the Snowden revelations.

In turn, in an alleged “move to ensure computer security,” the China Central Government Procurement Center nixed the Windows 8 operating system. Duncan Clark, chairman a Beijing-based consultant to tech companies, said, “China’s government is in a strong position given Snowden’s disclosures. If you give them an excuse, they will aggressively promote domestic brands.”  

After everything we know now about NSA spying, it seems rather disingenuous for the U.S. to continue on this path by claiming to be a victim of nation state spying. At least that is what the Chinese government is claiming. Now China wants IBM servers gone from domestic banks. “Security trumps everything,” Clark told Bloomberg. “China doesn’t need the U.S. companies in the way it did for the last few decades.”

Lenovo had agreed to acquire “IBM Corp's low-end server business and Google Inc's Motorola Mobility smartphone unit in two separate deals worth a total of $5.2 billion, both of which will require US government approval.” Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing told Reuters that he hoped the US-China tensions would not affect the deals. Yet those tensions seem to be escalating.

Yesterday Xinhua published the full text for a report called, “The United States' Global Surveillance Record:”

As a superpower, the United States takes advantage of its political, economic, military and technological hegemony to unscrupulously monitor other countries, including its allies. The United States' spying operations have gone far beyond the legal rationale of "anti-terrorism" and have exposed its ugly face of pursuing self-interest in complete disregard of moral integrity. These operations have flagrantly breached International laws, seriously infringed upon the human rights and put global cyber security under threat. They deserve to be rejected and condemned by the whole world. 

The report mentions that nine major international civil liberties unions issued a joint statement that PRISM “is a breach of international covenants on human rights. The joint declaration said, ‘Such vast and pervasive state surveillance violates two of the most fundamental human rights: the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression’."

After stating that the NSA “monitors private communications and virtually every aspect of the Americans' lives," the report quotes Chris Soghoian, principal technologist at the ACLU, as saying, "The only way to hide your location is to disconnect from all the modern communication devices and live in a cave."

"Washington is losing its moral ground," the German magazine Focus quoted an expert on foreign policy as saying. "Over the years the United States has exerted pressure on China in the name of Chinese spies and hacker attacks. In fact, the United States itself is the true eavesdropper." The German news television said the United States was monitoring "the whole of China". "After all, it is because the United States fears China will overtake it to become the world's superpower."

The report also talks about the “irony” of how the NSA created backdoors into Huawei's networks after accusing Huawei  -- the biggest competitor to Cisco -- of being the “security threat” that might create backdoors in products to steal corporate and government secrets. According to China, the U.S. is spying so it can control cyber space, but “if the U.S. monopoly of technological standards is broken, China will gradually take control of information flow on the Internet.”

Kicking IBM out of Chinese banks is likely just one of many more moves between the two superpowers playing cyber-espionage chess. Yes NSA spying on all of us is shameful, yet may God save us from even more spying and censorship if China were to ever take control of the flow of info on the Internet.

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