“Chinese companies… spy on us and steal our information!” [Comic]

If you have been following the news lately, you have probably heard how a US Congress panel decided to bar Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE from participating in the implementation of communication infrastructure in the United States on the grounds of national security because the American government feels China may bug equipment provided by Chinese companies. If you are one of those people that find the actions of the American government to be ridiculous, then you will enjoy the following comic. If you think the move is justified, then just close this page now because the comic below will just piss you off. Check it out:

You would what was the first thing that struck me after reading the comic? Most electronics are manufactured in China, e.g. the Macs the two woman are using in the above comic. If China wanted use its commercial companies to spy on Americans, wouldn’t it be easier for them to bug equipment that is being manufactured/assembled in China rather than risk exposure to its companies that operate outside the mainland? I’m not arguing for or against the ban on Chinese companies providing communication infrastructure for the USA. I’m just saying, either we ban all electronics from China or none at all; in the current form the ban just makes the government a hypocrite.

[via Joy of Tech]

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12 comments

  1. chinaguy

    I am an American who lived in China for nine years. And Yes the Chinese government is corrupt and they have a lot of problems. We in the US have many problems as well. No country is perfect. As far as telecommunications equipment goes unless it is used for something sensitive that concerns the US government the Chinese probably don’t care. They don’t care about everyday US citizens and their information. If it is something that would be used mostly for government purposes and on a daily basis I would say this caution is wise. But if it is just for items that everyday people are going to use. Then as I said I highly doubt China would care enough to bug it.

  2. sl0j0n

    Hello, all.
    @ Ashraf:
    “Just makes the government a hypocrite”.
    Long ago and far away, done and done.
    Nothing new there; nothing to see here, folks, move it on.
    IMO, basically, *all* governments are the same.
    People with little to no honor, want to be “in charge”,
    more for their benefit, than yours and mine.
    Over a 1,000 yrs ago, a wise man wrote:
    “All this I have seen, … [during] the time that man has dominated man to his injury”.

    Nothing new here, either.

    Have a GREAT day, neighbors!

  3. jimking

    @Eric989:

    I don’t really see any difference in China’s government and our own, well except that you dont see the truth being printed as often about our officials. As for “spying”, our own government spies on us everyday and in every way imaginable, from phone taps and email monitoring to security cam access and remote hijacking of systems. And no, I am not a conspiracy theorist, I have however worked for the US government and know alot about what goes on “behind closed doors”.

    Also, you rant against China’s treatment of the population and yet say nothing of the thousands of homeless families we have right here in the US that our “beloved” government totally ignores, nor the thousands left jobless because our government lets companies send their manufacturing out to other countries just so they can “save” money on build costs. After all, its a ton cheaper to pay a Haitian worker 1.00 a day to sew a seam than to pay our own people minimum wage to do the same thing.

    If you really want to ban something, ban our companies from taking our jobs out of the country.

  4. Eric989

    @Ashraf: I just believe that China has many more problems than we do. We don’t force families to only have one child and lots of stuff like that. As for power, while we may try to police the world we have never tried to conquer it. For example, at the end of WWII we had the nuke and no one else did. We could have told anybody to do anything and taken over the world and nobody could have stopped us. We could have made an American empire if we wanted but we did not. Instead we rebuilt the countries ravaged by war. Imagine what Hitler, Alexander the Great, or Napoleon would have done with all that power.
    We still suck and I am not happy with the government at all but we certainly could have done a lot worse.
    A far as Chinese retaliation, I think China already has lots of tariffs on our goods and other regulations that cause us to have a huge trade deficit with them. They are already not playing fair.
    Take their dollars? I think all of those are just numbers in a computer. Even if it was paper money, they still have use for us and don’t want to poison us just yet. We owe them too much money.

  5. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Eric989: Samsung is from South Korea, but I see your point.
    While I think it is very hypocritical of you to point fingers at the Chinese government on issues like “power” and “value of human life”, I’m not going to get into that. (Not saying there aren’t issues in China, but the American government isn’t one to talk.) Your premise is we shouldn’t trust the Chinese government. OK, fine by me. Then why the hell do we do so much business with and in China? If the Chinese are capable of bugging equipment sold by their companies to be installed in American telecom infrastructure, then what is to stop them from bugging any of the millions of electronics that come out of China?
    I also feel a total ban on everything isn’t the perfect solution. However, a particular ban on something without any proof is just plain stupid. Don’t be surprised if in the near future China acts quid pro quo and prevents American companies from participating in China — then you will see how quickly “national security” is out the door in favor of the dollar.
    BTW, in case you are wondering, China is the second largest debtor of the United States government, second only to Japan. Is it OK to take their dollars? Are you sure they didn’t poison them?

  6. Eric989

    @Ashraf: The government should do a lot of things that it doesn’t like protect our ambassadors. The government is too busy banning bath salts and doing other stupid stuff to get much important stuff done.
    China is an exception because we don’t and shouldn’t trust them. The values of their government are much different than our own with regards to the value of human life and stuff like their currency manipulation at the expense of their own people. They are out for power and are very heavily involved in all the businesses in their country.
    I believe Samsung is from Japan and Japan is generally considered a friend to us. I believe the US provides most of their military security and they don’t control the Japanese businesses like China controls its businesses.
    As for a total ban on everything, I don’t think there is a perfect solution. A ban on some things might be better than a ban on nothing I suppose.

  7. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Eric989: I’m confused. If someone is afraid of X then wouldn’t they look for X when the opportunity arises? For example, if our government is afraid of China spying on us through telecom companies, wouldn’t the government inspect the equipment coming from China?
    Maybe now we can ban Chinese companies from participating in our infrastructure but how long will that continue? Remember, China is rising. If we can use them to manufacture our consumer electronics, I don’t see what the issue is with infrastructure… assuming the companies have appropriate safe guards in place like, you know, an independent security audit. We already allow foreign companies to take part in infrastructure build outs, such as Samsung or Siemens. Why is China an exception?
    As I said, I’m not one way or the other on this issue — I’m just playing devil’s advocate.

  8. Eric989

    @Ashraf: But what are they inspecting the infrastructure for? They are concerned about whether it works and not about our privacy. Do you trust the government to inspect that equipment? The same government that provides our ambassadors with security?

  9. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @ArtKns: On paper you are right there is a difference between American designed products but manufactured in China and Chinese designed products. However, in practicality, your argument is bull$hit. Do you really think every American product coming out of China is inspected to ensure it is “spy free” or “as specified”? No. At best, there is a random check. Also, with today’s tech it wouldn’t be hard to make a slight modification to something without raising red flags.
    Similarly, do you really think tech is not inspected before being installed in infrastructure? In fact, that tech is more closely inspected at the point of installation than consumer electronics simply because it is more significant. Not to mention Huawei has passed an independent security audit (I’m light on the details for that one — I only read about it in passing).
    This whole debacle is nothing but the 21st century version of McCarthyism.
    @mukhi: Ditto.

  10. ArtKns

    Not so. There is a huge difference between assembling components/systems and designing them. The circuit boards are undoubtedly manufactured from CAD files generated by the American companies and with a parts list specified by same. Not a whole lot of room to insert a spy tap.

    OTOH, the communication routers in contention are designed and manufactured from the ground up in China. Basically a black box with no opportunity for review – probably not even a circuit diagram. A buyer has no idea of what is inside.

    I’m disappointed. You should have known better.