back to article US China-watcher warns against Middle Kingdom tech dominance

Another US government panel has warned of the dangers of over-reliance on Chinese tech vendors: the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The commission released its 2018 annual report today, and in it warned that China's plans to dominate two key tech sectors – the Internet of Things, and 5G – represented a threat …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Oh really ?

    "or when Chinese IoT products and services transfer US customer data back to China, where the government retains expansive powers to access personal and corporate data."

    Because the US government does not have "expansive powers to access personal and corporate data" ? That's news to me.

    Of course, I realize that this is a US report on "dangers" to US citizens with China-manufactured IoT stuff, but I think that, for the international audience reading it, it would be good to re-read that paragraph with the proper placeholders, like thus :

    "or when foreign IoT products and services transfer your data back to that country, where the laws on personal and corporate data may not be in your best interest."

    Then maybe you'll think twice about that FitBit, or that POS "smart" lock that you have somehow convinced yourself that you need.

    As far as I'm concerned, IoT is a world of badly implemented useless or bad ideas. I'll stay well away from it, but this report is just another nail in the coffin.

  2. LDS Silver badge

    Re: Oh really ?

    Maybe some countries will understand that outsourcing the production of cheap T-shirt is one thing, technology is another... despite what pure beancounters and overpaid executives think.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Oh really ?

    >Maybe some countries will understand that outsourcing the production of cheap T-shirt is one thing, technology is another...

    Like it or not we live on a capitalist globe and the same forces that drive "hot money" also drive where something is manufactured, economic Darwinism.

  4. vtcodger Silver badge

    Re: Oh really ?

    As far as I'm concerned, IoT is a world of badly implemented useless or bad ideas.

    badly implemented Sadly, pretty much 100% true.

    useless In some cases, yes. I think "products whose utility is vastly overestimated" might be more accurate. There are, I think, use cases for Internet connected locks. But they probably aren't something that we all need.

    bad ideas I think maybe they are only bad if they are forced on us whether we want them or not. e.g. I don't want a smart TV. They are hard to use and rarely provide me with any capability that I want or need beyond the channel select/volume controls that we've had since the 1960s.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Oh really ?

    >beyond the channel select/volume controls that we've had since the 1960s.

    But how that TV works has radically changed since the 1960's, no more CRT's , analogue signals or thermionic valves plus you now have a nice IR remote so one doesn't have to get off ones arse to change channel or volume. Also how we consume has radically changed, do you own a mobile phone camera computer dictaphone games console TV ?

  6. LDS Silver badge

    "economic Darwinism"

    Darwinism means to be able to adapt to changing conditions - many western economies built systems where they are no longer able to adapt - offshoring production skills and technologies and losing them makes you less adaptable and more dependent. And it's even worse when you depend not on trusted allies, but potential enemies.

    Bad capitalism look at it from a pure short-term costs perspective only - and how much it fattens their bonuses and stocks - but in the long run they become the dinosaur who can't adapt quickly enough and become extinct. I'm sure there were an Accountantusarus and Ceosaurus Rex who told the others "don't worry, our ecosystem is strong...."

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "economic Darwinism"

    Darwinism

    Or to give it it's full title "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life"

    As I said, like it or not.

    Some species have found that cooperation or symbiosis is much better for their survival, the mitochondrion being a fine example while retaining it's own DNA.

  8. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Re: Oh really ?

    outsourcing technology = "teaching your competitors how to destroy you"

    just sayin'...

  9. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Re: Oh really ?

    ...IoT is a world of badly implemented useless or bad ideas.

    So, IoT is a world of badly implemented useless ideas or badly implemented bad ideas.

    Anything poorly implemented has the possibility to be really dangerous on the grounds that it has not been implemented according to specification.

    It does depend on how one defines 'bad' and I assume the OP meant a poor implementation of an evil idea. I will admit that I'm not too worried, though, about poorly implemented evil ideas.

    What a useless idea is, I'm not sure. Can ideas have no use?

  10. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Darwin

    Be careful when using that name, he is (well, was) the most evil person in the world. He's up there with Hitler. Just ask any devout American.

    I remember some innocent asking in the IMDB forums if the animated film, 'Pirates! (in an Adventure with Scientists)' [1] asking if this film was safe to watch because Darwin was in it.

    Now, there were some red-flags concerning the historical accuracy of the film, I will admit, but I wasn't swayed by his heretical message. I was too taken by The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate to listen the lies.

    [1] https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1430626/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

  11. vtcodger Silver badge

    Re: Oh really ?

    I'm pretty sure that we had (ultrasonic?) TV remotes in the 1960s, but that was a long time ago and I could be off by a decade. Anyway, they worked and weren't much different from modern remotes from a user POV. And I don't remember when "instant -on" came to TVs. Maybe not until the 1970s. So maybe in the 1960s we had to wait for the TV to warm up -- not much different than waiting for a modern TV to boot. OTOH, modern digital signals take much longer to sync than analog signals did, so channel surfing was faster and easier half a century ago.

    But analog signals had poor resolution? Yes, they did. Have you looked at typical TV programming. Why would anyone care much about resolution? And the analog signals propagated better. I need an outdoor antenna and an amplifier to watch "local" stations, I could get a perfectly OK analog signal from on rabbit-ears 20 years ago.

  12. martinusher Silver badge

    Re: Oh really ?

    >I'm pretty sure that we had (ultrasonic?) TV remotes in the 1960s...

    Maybe in the US but infra-red remotes became pretty much standard in the UK by the early 80s, you had to go to America to see TVs with bona-fide channel change dials. The change was brought about in the UK because digital tuners were cheaper to make and you needed something to operate Teletext with.

    >But analog signals had poor resolution? Yes, they did.

    Actually, not really. Certainly in the US and the old 405 line system in the UK but the 625 analog system had a 6.5MHz luminance bandwidth which actually comparable to a modern high definition set (its difficult to map digital to analog resolution but I reckon you'd need at least 10000 pixels line resolution to get the same kind of analog resolution you could theoretically get from a UK TV set). (Naturally the on-air transmission and color encoding/decoding would knock that back a bit, as would be the limited resolution of the cameras and contemporary recording equipment.)

  13. Phil Kingston Silver badge

    Filed under "Committee recommends giving itself more powers".

  14. vtcodger Silver badge

    The Chinese Century

    I think the real problem here is that this is NOT the "American Century". It's going probably to be the "Chinese Century". That's going to be a real shock to the aging schoolyard bullies who dominate America's political right. As well as the crazed collection of establishment stalking horses and single subject fanatics who dominate our political left.

  15. LDS Silver badge

    Re: The Chinese Century

    As long as China can control its population, maybe - will China be able to avoid internal turmoils?

  16. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Re: The Chinese Century

    well, it COULD be 'The Chinese Century', if the USA and other western countries keep doing "the stupid thing" and relying on China's cheap labor force [read: exploiting them] while simultaneously EMPOWERING a COMMUNIST government that has, in the past, expressed a desire to spread its influence upon the world forcibly.

    And when you look at what they do to their OWN people [exploit the masses, empower a handful as super-rich as long as they play along, etc.] as well as engage in predatory trade practices with other countries, violate their intellectual property, and so on... not very smart handing them the plans to "everything".

    In the USA, and in UK and EU, we'd do well to start building lights-out factories to build our schtuff.

    Until then, we'd be wise to STOP! TEACHING! THEM! HOW! TO! MAKE! THE! COOL! STUFF!!! Ship the chips, ship the pre-programmed ROMS, and let them build circuit boards and wire up stuff. When they start fabbing the high-tech components like CPUs and RAM, that's where the problems begin.

    But yeah, they kinda *ENGINEERED* that for themselves with the whole "local supply chain" thing, didn't they?

    Now, philosophically, USA, UK, and EU have a significant advantage: our cultures do NOT demand conformance and 'hammer down the nail that sticks out' the way they do "over there". As such, our engineers tend to be MORE CREATIVE than those who are in China. You can downvote the hell out of me for saying so, because I don't care. It's just simply TRUE, because a FREE PEOPLE are free to THINK DIFFERENT and a CAPITALIST society REWARDS you for being good at it. China is STILL COMMUNIST and as such, they have "that" as a HUGE roadblock to true innovation. And though they'll have one or two 'bright sparks' over there that would do it simply "for the lulz", there's NO way they can compete with a FREE nation's engineering prowess.

    But they'll always be VERY good at REVERSE engineering...

  17. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: The Chinese Century

    And when you look at what they do to their OWN people [exploit the masses, empower a handful as super-rich as long as they play along, etc.] as well as engage in predatory trade practices with other countries, violate their intellectual property, and so on

    But what about China ?

  18. James 51 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Re: The Chinese Century

    Bob, a lot of what you say there is correct but how you say it makes it painful to hear. Turn the volume down, take a more measured tone and you might find some people agreeing with you and being surprised when they check the handle of the poster.

  19. martinusher Silver badge

    Re: The Chinese Century

    This particular horse has long bolted the stable. The Chinese now know how to make their own stuff.

    What's going on in China is not much different from what happened with Japan years ago. Japanese products were considered to be cheap, inferior, knockoffs to British products, which they were for the most part. The Japanese copied, they learned, they made mistakes but eventually they found their stride. Nobody could accuse them of building inferior products these days.

    The only solution is to think in terms of sports leagues rather than geopolitics. If you've won the Cup this year then there's only two choices for next year -- redouble your efforts to stay on top or lose out to a competitor. There is no law of Nature that dictates that you stay on top 'just because' -- England found this out over the last century and the US is in the process of learning the same lesson.

    BTW -- Its also not helpful to think of Chinese people as intellectually inferior to us Western super-beings. Not only is this a colonial era hangover but if you've had to work with them you'll realize that Chinese people are every bit as smart as we are -- and there are a whole lot more of them than us.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Japanese products were considered to be cheap, inferior, knockoffs to British products"

    That's why Japan preferred to learn from German ones... and then get past them.

  21. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

    Re: The Chinese Century

    Bloody Hell !!! (All in a Cockney accent!) He's startin' ta sound like me!

    ALL BOMBASTIC with too many UPPERCASE and lowercase SENTENCES !!!!

    Anyways, China is what China is and WILL DO what it feels like doing WHEN it feels like doing so!

    Unless YOUR COUNTRY also has 1.5 billion people graduating 250,000 ENGINEERS PER YEAR then you're going to hafta take it up-da-wazoo since your country is HIGHLY LIKELY to be very dependent upon technology and systems developed in China and IMPORTED into your country!

    The BASIC fact of the matter is....that the MAJORITY of your own country's people are TOO LAZY and TOO STOOOOOPID to even HOPE to match the intellectual, financial and manufacturing capability of Chinese industry! To put it mildly BUT TRUTHFULLY, YOU and your fellow countrymen and countrywomen DO NOT HAVE what it takes to be technological powerhouses. You don't have the educated and compliant workforces! You DO NOT HAVE the sheer financial and marketing capital NOR do you have the technological SKILLS to even HOPE TO COMPETE on the world's stage of high technology!

    Unless you're Germany, USA, Japan, France, Switzerland or CHINA, your country IS ABSOLUTELY DEPENDENT UPON the world's POWERHOUSES for high technology of ANY SORT !!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Re: The Chinese Century @bombastic bob

    empower a handful as super-rich as long as they play along, ... bombastic bob

    Is that a good or a great reason for playing along in a long game infested with short sellers, bb?

    It certainly has an obvious and even vulgar attraction to those able to empower and be empowered with the promise of riches beyond compare and the reach of carpetbaggers and faux emperors alike.:-)

    It is surely not too bad a play, given the energy that it generates for second and third party delivery, especially by those few, who may be more than just a handful and unexpectedly smart, with no real interest in super-rich wealth, other than what it easily purchases to set free and share with others one meets or be travelling elsewhere in a parallel mirroring exercises and enterprises.

    Do not forget to remember .... The man who dies rich, dies disgraced? .... Andrew Carnegie?

    And your view of the Chinese is unbelievable, bombastic bob, and such renders many vulnerabilities for systemic exploitation.

  23. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    He America...

    see that stable door you are trying to shut?

    The horse that was in there has just disappeared over the horizon and there ain't nothing you can do to get it back

  24. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Devil

    Re: He America...

    time to write that horse off, and get another.

  25. _LC_
    Stop

    And on that note...

    What happened to Bloomberg and the false allegations against Supermicro? Do we simply fall silent and let them get away with harming a foreign company out of the blue?

    This is a form of fascism. Making false allegations, repeating them over and over to make them stick... It's essentially what the Germans did before they came up with the concentration camps. The media kept pointing their fingers at the "evil Jews", making up blatant lies without negative consequences to themselves.

    You can cast your stones as you wish; your targets are not allowed to retaliate. I don't like this concept. I'll keep rebelling. :-P

  26. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Stop

    Re: And on that note...

    "What happened to Bloomberg and the false allegations against Supermicro"

    Fixed it for ya. The jury's still out on the 'false part.

  27. soulrideruk Bronze badge

    Re: And on that note...

    So everyone involved said there is no such story, including the FBI. This is the same FBI who scared Americans to get rid of Kaspersky, so you know they would definitely tell if there was a problem.

    Only Bloomberg and their 'Anonymous' sources claim this to be correct.

    There is zero evidence, no-one anywhere has produced a compromised motherboard.

    So no evidence, denied by everyone accused and only 'anonymous' sources claim this to be true. You think the jury is still out??

    The only thing that is 'still out' is the mass of synapses that is supposed to rest between your ears. If there was any issue, the FBI would have been telling everyone to remove supermicro parts, like they did with Kaspersky.

    Of course, there is one situation where the FBI and all their companies would deny this, and that would be if the bits added to the motherboards were done so at the Americans request, and not the Chinese. Then if it were true, it makes sense to deny, but if China was behind this, America would have made sure the world knew about it.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: And on that note...

    Or, of course, unless the Americans have figured out how to access the alleged Chinese backdoors and now have unfettered access to both the companies' data and an intelligence honeypot to monitor what information the Chinese are looking to steal.

  29. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Raze the Ground ...... Start Virgin Fresh Renewed with Nothing the Same ForEver.

    The data collected by Things can “reveal information the user did not intend to share”, the report noted, and “US data could be exposed through unsecure [sic] IoT devices, or when Chinese IoT products and services transfer US customer data back to China, where the government retains expansive powers to access personal and corporate data.”

    Would IT Present All Bad Leading Roles with Better Opportunities Harvested Elsewhere When Heavenly Opportunities Present Quite Radically Different Future Pictures in Heavenly Abode Possession of Extra Terrestrial Information re Freely Shared PrePlacement both here in El Reg and elsewhere just so curious :-)

    There be many a great watering hole there. Immaculate Nectar Consuming Exhaustion in Other Worldly Spaces Made Readily Available for Hire and Trial in Crash BetaTesting Dummy AI Systems, is but one AIWare for Future Traders Dealing to be Well Covered in All Bets to Lose Graciously and Gratefully when Confronted with Aliens Passing Through Here with You Now, Leaving behind them the Most Magnificent Tales of the Trails and Trials their Programs Endured and Survived for Posterity to Register Truly Absolutely Remarkable .... and that's a Monumental Misunderestimation at Any and All Great Levels of TARPlay

    :-) Trojan AIgent Role Plays are a Right Royal Whizz of a Hoot to Boot any Sterling Hootenanny with Perfectly Berthed Birthing Partners .... Virtually Real AI Soul Mates.

    What stellar global plans have you provided for capture with current default depleted resources?

    Anything of Passing Note for Future Presentations with Universal Strategic Interests?

  30. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Re: Raze the Ground ...... Start Virgin Fresh Renewed with Nothing the Same ForEver.

    Would anyone like to accurately rerender that in Mandarin/Japanese/Russian/Plainer Simplified English for an Exotic Erotic Eastern Mix of Enduring Influences ..... which you might like to realise are akin to Heavenly Tasks for AlMighty Dreamers of the Other Side .... the Wild and Wacky West.

    In competition, there is no contest to win when in loving cohabitation are all secrets to fabulous success beautifully served and magnificently servered.

    In Extremis, Nymph/Satyr Territory. And Prime Adam/Premium Eve Terrain for Any and All Wannabe Live Operational Virtual Environmentalists.

    Check with your Doctor to see if Sudden Shock and Mass Distress, Excess Reward and Anonymous Success will cause any personal problems, .... as far as he would be aware of for Insufficient Information Feeds and Seeds Insufficient Intelligence .

    Is the Throttling of Intelligence in Virtual Channels to be the Ploy to Play with Current Systems Administrations ...... against an AlMighty Seeing IDEntity? That'll never work for as long as pussy is also a cat. ie near enough to forever as makes no difference.

    For Goodness Sake, Stop Digging and Shooting Yourselves in the Foot. Throttled Intelligence very quickly Graduates to AlMighty Paths in Perfumed Gardens. And One Cannot Be Adequately Pre Prepared for Perfection with Ancient Secret Delights at Work, Rest and Play Right in Centre Front of You.

    Who on Earth thinks it a good idea to spend gazillions to try and stop folk learning about their current situation/present position in the Greater Schema of InterNetworking Things? Tell me it aint Madness and we'll agree to disagree until Equitable Resolution with Perfect Solutions.

  31. Cliff Thorburn

    Re: Raze the Ground ...... Start Virgin Fresh Renewed with Nothing the Same ForEver.

    :-) Trojan AIgent Role Plays are a Right Royal Whizz of a Hoot to Boot any Sterling Hootenanny with Perfectly Berthed Birthing Partners .... Virtually Real AI Soul Mates.

    Hmm dont know about that amfM, but am right royally f***ed off with these shenanigans ...

    Whatever next?, Kim Jong Un used the O2 Network?, I would say quite frankly its mass diversionary tactics of absolute nonsence.

    And all too easy to throw the scent from the reality which is nothing is agreed until it is agreed, is that not correct?

  32. Cliff Thorburn

    Re: Raze the Ground ...... Start Virgin Fresh Renewed with Nothing the Same ForEver.

    ‘What stellar global plans have you provided for capture with current default depleted resources?’

    I probably shouldn’t respond to such after watching the Gammon Fest that is Question Time, however, as a POWWOW through your own admission I am in constant disbelief as to how this country has been hoodwinked and denies the actual benefits that EU membership has brought to this counry, especially worker protections.

    In answer to such a question amfM, as much as though I remain loyal to this country, I would always stand by the side of virtue, peace, human rights then slide down the slippery far right slope that humanity seemingly has developed amnesia with regard to its past.

    If such views make me the enemy then so be it, everyone is entitled to their views in the same way we should all be entitled to rights inalienable or not.

  33. Jay Lenovo

    North Korea ??!?

    ...China's relations with US allies, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and North Korea

    A North Korean Ally, I guess from a Trump point of view.

    The DMZ and Nuclear threats must just maintain happy fences.

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