That is scary – already China makes 99+% of the world’s electronics and components. What if it decided to exercise global power over it?
For example, India and Japan have both offered land and funding to lure factories out of China. Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and more are willing to become the factories to the West. Most enjoy a more stable form of democracy.
The tech companies have been spurred on. Not just by the political situation but because of recent rising costs in China. Last year, for example, Apple looked at moving 30% of its smartphone production from China. Numerous data centre servers, including Foxconn and Inventec, have shifted their production from China to Mexico and Taiwan.
Such moves are undoubtedly a blow to China’s exports. These have served as the main powerhouse for its economy over the last several decades. Subsequently, China’s economic growth has slowed to its lowest rate since 1990.
The world was happy to play nice with China. It was happy to overlook its appalling human rights, world economic domination, communist leanings and other ‘foibles. But the West will not be so willing to play with it anymore.
We are looking at the re-emergence of the East and West dialogue. It will be propped up up by the 1.7 billion China home market and the 5.9 billion western market.
And China can’t count on its influence in the Asia Pacific either. It is now understood that its no-strings-attached aid and friendship really does come with expectations.
Cybersecurity threats from China
Now we are getting into the seedy underbelly
Perhaps the finger-pointing against China is not all that unfounded. As Kaspersky and Check Point assert the China-state-sponsored Naikon Group has been relentless hacking Australia for at least a decade.
US officials won’t put a number on the Chinese spies in America. It is believed that there are well over 10,000 alone in Washington. And hundreds of thousands in businesses over the country. These include deep cover civil servants, military, law enforcement, business people, students, diplomats, workers and tourists…
Brian Dugan, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for Counterintelligence with the FBI’s Washington Field Office said,
“It’s unprecedented — the threat from our foreign adversaries, specifically China, on the economic espionage and the espionage front. A spy is nondescript. A spy is going to be someone that’s going to be a student in school, a visiting professor, your neighbour. It could be a colleague or someone that shares the soccer field with you.”
Pete Lapp is a special agent at the Washington Field Office of the FBI. While he would not discuss numbers of Chinese operatives.
“China, by far, is our preeminent counterintelligence threat. Its most sought-after prize extends beyond traditional espionage. Intellectual property from US companies is now a top priority for many spies. Infiltrating our industries to steal our innovation is a big, big problem.”
William Evanina is the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Centre. He is the main and security adviser to the director of national intelligence, said that the threat is unrivalled.
“When it comes to stealing trade secrets and intellectual property from America, no country poses a greater threat than China. America loses an estimated $300 to $500 billion annually to China intellectual property theft.
“No one objects to a nation engaging in fair competition to advance in world markets. But the Chinese Government’s tactics are anything but fair. It is pillaging technology and innovation from virtually every sector in America using a broad range of techniques and actors.”
Compare that to the estimated total of 175-200 Russian spies in the US!
The difference is simple. Russians want to destroy us; China wants to own us!
It’s also led to greatly increased cybersecurity threats from hackers. They are using the pandemic as an opportunity to conduct cyberattacks against governments, corporations, small businesses, and individuals alike.
The Trump Administration claims that Chinese hackers have stolen coronavirus research. This is widespread from US health care providers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, research labs.
Likewise, the Australian Government last year said that China was behind the hack on parliament and political parties. After that incident Australian decided to take cybersecurity more seriously. It now requires every member of the parliament to connect to the Internet through a private encrypted tunnel.
It is not that all of that any of this should be a surprise. After all, 99% of all brute force attacks originate in China. The Chinese represent the second-highest volume of traffic on websites in the United States.
Specific examples of cyberattacks launched by China during the COVID-19 pandemic include
- exploiting Microsoft Windows’ bugs
- Operation Poisoned News targeting Hong Kong iOS users
- APT41 hacking that has gone after a multitude of healthcare companies and non-profit organisations.
The issue of cyberspying has gone far past the point where there is smoke there is fire to an inferno. China has been caught with its hands in the cookie jar (and we venture every other western nation of note). The problem is China’s whole ‘whole-of-society’ approach to espionage.