Are China’s hacker attacks and its anti-Apple campaign both preludes to a trade war?

“Hillary Clinton and Admiral Mike Mullen. The nuclear weapons labs at Los Alamos and Oak Ridge. The U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, State, Energy and Commerce. The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Lockheed Martin, Dow Chemical and Coca Cola. Adobe, Yahoo and Google,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt writes for Fortune. “That, according to an alarming (and alarmingly hawkish) article in the Wall Street Journal‘s weekend edition, is a partial list of U.S. interests targeted by a group of Chinese hackers who over the past decade have allegedly drained terabytes of military and commercial secrets from U.S. servers… [The] report strongly suggests that Apple was among the dozens of U.S. companies targeted.”

“Reader Carl Levinson, who recommended the Journal piece, is convinced that the campaign against Apple and the pattern of data thefts are both part of a broad, state-sponsored attack on American interests. Levinson, an early computer pioneer and long-time China hand, makes a strong case that what we are seeing now is ‘blunt, corrupt mercantilism,'” P.E.D. reports. “‘China is going to keep eviscerating America until we put our foot down,’ Levinson writes. ‘It’s simple freakonomics — we must make it ‘cost too much’ to cheat us. Regrettably, that means a hard-nosed trade war.'”

Read more in the full article here.

29 Comments

  1. Where are most Apple products made/assembled? It would be economic suicide by China to kill off Apple Corporation within its borders. All portable computer products made in Taiwan are shipped through China to the USA. It makes no sense whatsoever for China to use Apple as a pawn in the tit-for-tat in the political soap opera.

    But we can find online presentations by “Chinese Warriors” of their declaration of war against the degenerate USA already, so this should be no surprise…

    1. It absolutely does make sense. Watch the movie “Farewell” on Netflix. This is an accurate depiction of why the Soviet Union collapsed. The reason? We got our hands on a very long list of Soviet spies working in the US. These spies were, for the most part, US citizen’s that worked for important US technology firms (mostly in defense industries) and made it possible for the Soviet Union to keep up militarily with the US.

      Watch the movie. It answers a lot of questions about the 1980s leading up to the collapse of the USSR.

      Caution: there will be plenty that won’t believe it. But the main character (a Frenchman) wrote a book about his involvement, with the rest pieced together from other sources, a lot of which was in the news on the periphery of world events.

      The Chinese are spying on our tech institutions for the same reason the Soviets did, its cheaper (and faster) than doing the research.

      1. …its cheaper (and faster) than doing the research

        Actually, there is a FAR more fundamental problem with all so-called ‘communist’ states: They are, by default, UN-creative. Extreme socialism consistently kills off all incentive to be creative and innovative. China is currently suffering from exactly this problem, in spite of throwing money at education in hopes of changing their creativity deficit. Nothing has come of China’s efforts because nothing has changed in their repressive method of destroying personal incentive.

        Meanwhile, the crime rate in China continues to escalate specifically because people find their own methods of creating personal incentive, the ever available opportunities of CRIME.

        I state these facts frequently, so you’re not experiencing déja vu. Apologies for the repetition, but apparently this very obvious and consistent problem with so-called ‘communism’ doesn’t seem to penetrate many skulls. You don’t have to believe my theory. Just watch it happen in past, present and future history. It’s fascinating, to me at least. It’s one reason I champion positive anarchy. 😉

        1. Well said. I would like to add this is not just a Communist problem it is also a fundamental Confucian problem. China being the origin of Confucianism and spread to many other Asian countries.

          What is “positive anarchy?”

          1. in anarchy, in the pure state, each man governs himself thus order is based on empathy and respect for others rights and freedoms . what you define as anarchy is actually chaos a place with no order, something very different go read platos republic for more on the subject

          2. I essentially know nothing about Confucianism except a few proverbs. I do know that in past Chinese cultures their creativity was stunning. I would like Chinese creativity to again become stunning.

            As for ‘positive anarchy’, it is my minimalist distillation of my version of idealism. I do not actually consider it to be practical among humans. Instead, I consider it to be a goal.

            Anarchy, taken without connotations, simple means, to quote one definition:

            Absence of government; the state of society where there is no law or supreme power

            It is a state of total personal freedom.

            I put brackets around total personal freedom by adding the word ‘positive’. It means using one’s freedom, one’s choices, in pursuit of ONLY creating positive events. It excludes negative or irresponsible choices.

            No doubt I qualify ‘anarchy’ in this way because I am an eldest son and therefore have what I call ‘over-responsibility syndrome’, typical of eldest sons. We end up being third parents within a family. I’d recommend eldest son training to everyone, a source of my sense of self-discipline and my interest in self-improvement.

            Here is another way I define ‘positive anarchy’, as found on my current blogs:

            – Politically I call myself a ‘Positive Anarchist’ in that I believe in maximum choice. But I also believe in maximum responsibility for our choices, therefore being positive as opposed to irresponsible or negative.

            And yeah, I’m on a chatty jag tonight. Too much coffee.

            1. Derek,
              I agree with you comments on communists destruction on people working for their self interest.
              But have you considered perhaps you are a Libertarian, instead of an Anarchist? Anarchy has a destructive side to it that Libertarianism does not include.

            2. Thank you for an interesting comment! I’ve kept an eye on Libertarians and only sort of agree with some things.

              The term ‘anarchy’ automatically has connotations in our culture. I put the word ‘positive’ before it as a qualifier, but then it sounds like ‘positively anarchy!’ like I’m being insistent or something. So no, I’m not pleased with the semantics of the phrase. My explanation of what I means makes more sense than the phrase I am attempting to define.

            3. Chinese Communism has not been around that long. Confucianism has been around for centuries. I would venture to say confucianism is the main reason for decline in China not Communism. Confucianism is also a reason why Communism is still present in China. Confucianism has played a huge part in the development in East asian cultures. I would recommend you really look into it.

            4. Thank you. I can point to all the basic FAIL behavior within a nation that’s typical of the communist version of totalitarianism. But it will be interesting to look at China from the Confucianist POV. Thanks!

  2. The Chinese are out to bring all this Western technology to their own state-sponsored companies — and the military. We were gullible to offshore key electronics manufacturing to a communist nation and it will come back to haunt us. Even our ally South Korea’s companies openly steal our technology (yes, I’m looking at you, Samsung).

  3. It should be pretty clear by now that Asian countries–teeming with cheap labor willing to work under any conditions–follow different rules and are prepared to go to any ethical lengths to achieve their objectives. Imagine Maine with 50 million people and you can gain a sense of where South Korea is at today (Samsung, et al). China has the intellectual property it needs from Apple and is now prepared to demonize the company to get it out of the picture. For the past three decades the US has been incredibly naive with Asian countries in providing a free trade region in North America, while at the same time generously sharing knowledge and education. With 100s of millions of people eking out a sustenance living, it’s understandable that China would have little scruples when things get serious.

  4. The Wall Street Journal is doing nothing more or less than ginning up the populace for another military throw down, against yet another country that will not adhere to the $/oil paradigm. The difference is this one can defend itself. And won’t loan us the money to attack it, the way it has all our other misadventures in the MidEast.

    Apple is thrown in this story just to get the hits. They want to rile as many people as possible up against China, so mentioning Apple just pushes their message out further.

    The real issue for Apple vis a vis China is that the PRC wants access to iDevices for surveillance of the people using them. Apple resisted. PRC then started shouting to it’s people how Apple is ‘abusing’ them (took a play right out of the GOP’s book there – attack your opponent publicly in the very area they are in fact more aligned with the public’s interests). Apple won’t cry “B.S.!!” because, in fact, they’ve been considering just how they might appease the PRC government – lots of people in China, lots of devices that might be sold. And I would guess, what with CEO-level communiques saying ‘We’re so sorry…”, that Apple has decided do a Google & to play ball. Don’t Be Evil bites the dust again.

    Anyway, pay no attention to Wall Street, or it’s ‘Journal’ (op-ed pieces anyway). They have an agenda just as onerous as the Chinese government’s. The only difference is, theirs is aimed at you and me.

  5. Haven’t we been in a trade war with china for a while now? Is this really news? Is it really a surprise that a nation will scrutinize and try to throttle the success of a foreign company?

  6. Here is a great way to kill any trade war with China:

    REVOKE CHINA’S MOST-FAVORED-NATION STATUS.

    And it would be about bloody time. Sheesh. Thank our dumbass Corporate Oligarchy for the fact that revocation will NOT HAPPEN. The Age of Biznizz drags on…

    1. jeez Derek could you be more obtuse ham handed or eurocentric in your attitude. You do not win with the Chinese by provoking them to confrontation.we need to choose our battles carefully and not be baited into a trap i bet you suck at chess

      1. They’re communists. When given the opportunity they will become capitalists. They shall get plenty of such opportunities in the future. The United States of America is not asleep at the wheel.

      2. I don’t live in Europe. Note how I discussed ‘Most-Favored-Nation’ status, a USA government provided status.

        I practice what is historically called ‘Speaking truth to power’. It is efficient and historically the most successful approach to creating change. It was the basis of the USA revolution against the tyranny of King George’s Britain.

        My personality is that of a ‘producer’. I get things done. When abuse is occurring, I point at it, discuss it, criticize it, and point out a more rational method of behavior. Count on that never changing for me. It is foundational to my though processes. I am a catalyst. If the positive change I discuss and engender means anyone is pissed off at me, I fundamentally don’t care. If my goal of improving a situation has been accomplished, THAT is what pleases me, not schoozing, not relationship amenability.

        You apparently have a relational personality. You don’t see value in confrontation for a variety of reasons that make sense to your point of view. You see value in getting along, despite the fact that your behavior may well be nothing more than enabling of negative, even deadly behavior.

        There is a middle way in most things, a way to moderate between extremes. I enjoy learning such things, which is why I hang out with ‘Friends’, aka Quakers.

        But at this point in my life experiences, I believe the louder and more often lies, deceit corruption and incoherence are pointed out and discussed, the more likely they are to change. No enablement of negative behavior occurs, the masses realize that the emperor really does have no clothes and it is time for everyone to agree to change the situation. People with deeply relational personalities loathe this approach and historically make an effort to literally kill producers, such as myself, if only to make relationships more amenable. When this occurs, positive change is circumvented, congratulations, the negative status quo is maintained until another sane, rational person comes along and catalyzes change once again, an inevitable process within any viable human system. Without positive change, human systems decay and die. We currently have daily verifications that this is the case within our self-destructive biznizz community, as I insistently call it.

        If you understand the concept of the evolution of life, you are able to understand the system of important positive change I am discussing. We humans exist because nature forced such change upon us. Otherwise, why wouldn’t we have remained proto-bacteria?

        And yes, I find ‘god’ to be self-evident in my life. So please don’t mistake me for an atheist or agnostic. Evolution never excludes religion, despite rubbish propaganda to the contrary.

        1. Derek the eurocentric view come not from living in Europe but having history taught to us by jesuits
          we had a great dark age where all knowledge was lost except small pockets here and there gradually cows walked from manor to manor growing into roads and allowing civilization to expand until magellan and Vasco de gamma discovered the world . sound familiar ? where is chinas 5000 years of written history in that thousand year old saga? do you really think it true? we may have freed ourselves of european masters but not european teachers. its the hand that rocks the cradle my man. even your quakers owe their theology to Thomas Aquinas take Aquinas’s infinite regress argument and change the premise from “nothing moves itself” to “things move each other” and when you have thought about that for a while tell me again what is “self evident”

          1. I only know Jesuits and Thomas Aquinas via vague discussions with my Catholic friends. I’m therefore not exactly understanding your point to me. Sorry.

            My concept of ‘god’ being self-evident is an entirely personal set of experiences that I can vaguely sum up in the concept of ‘synchronicity’. It could write a rather long essay about the details. I’ll simply list a couple: Meeting a close friend whose life corresponded to a few too many marvelous coincidences to merely be a random event. Giving myself one day to find an apartment in a new city, ending up with only one decent choice, taking the apartment and finding out continually, over a series of years, that I am living in exactly the place I should be living.

            I am entirely willing to point out my own airheadedness and the ability of we humans to believe almost anything to be absolutely true, including myself. But I do my best to be rational, and synchronicity has consistently been my mentor in my life experiences. Whatever I am interacting with, I call it ‘self-evident’ and don’t have a better term for it than ‘god’. That’s the shortest explanation I can come up with at 12:50 AM after a day of too much coffee.

            1. ok i guess you have no motivation or goal in undressing the emperor your just doing it altruistically or for fun .

              Aquinas’s work is pervasive through christian theology not just Catholic . he atempted to prove gods existance with 4 proofs 3 easily refuted
              #1 who made the world?
              refute if god was always here the world could always be here .
              the other two are similar the killer was the 4th proof or the proof from motion
              it states
              axiom “nothing moves itself ”
              therefore everything is moved by something before it
              if the series is infinite there is no first mover
              things are moving therefore there must have been a first mover
              the property of the fist mover would have been to be in potential to act and in act at the same time

              in order to move the first act of creation is to create a place to move to . (if you are everything there is nowhere to go movement is from point a to point b
              if you a theologian the unmoved mover is god if a physicist
              the big bang
              all versions of this argument assume a linear progression
              if you look for logic traps (all kangaroos have pockets men have pockets therefore all men are kangaroos) you can see that the statement things move each other is equally true as nothing moves itself this allows for the idea that things were always moving (circular instead of linear reasoning ) and thus refutes infinite regress of movers and movees. before undressing the emperor please study some philosophy and you might read tragedy and hope by caroll quigley to get an idea of just how Machiavellian our world is. thank you for your replies this dialog has been entertaining

            2. No, I speak truth to power in order to stop abuse, deceit, obfuscation, etc., all for the benefit of both our human species and our miracle planet. That’s a good summary of my motivation. It is far preferable to letting fools get their way and hurt both people and our life giving planet in the process. Do you disagree?

              “logic traps” <– Part of our problem is that we force our perceptions, which are consistently faulty from the start, into a system of minimalist symbols we call words, strung together into what we call language. The result is immediately a misrepresentation of what we are attempting to describe and convey.

              Machiavellian world: Yes. And how odd that apparently he wrote 'The Prince' as a satire. And here our world of corrupted capitalism is fulfilling that satire. IOW: It is a system of fools and foolishness.

              I will look up Caroll Quigley. Thanks taojones for kewl conversation.

        2. i might clarify that your confrontational “truth” theory has the effect of putting the opposition on guard and in a defensive posture making it more difficult to accomplish your aim an open door is easier to take advantage of than a locked one.
          if you have an enemy and you want the cheese better if you can get close to the cupboard

          1. I didn’t state the word ‘truth’ except in a reply you haven’t read yet. Or are you reading my MIND?!

            Yes, relational personalities take a defensive posture when confronted with producer personalities. The antagonism between these two fundamental groups of personalities has been evident throughout history.

            I don’t offer any ‘open door’. Being confrontational means knocking down a wall of illusion and revealing the naked emperor on the other side. We frequently point out the obvious, which we find that oddly the relational people would rather not notice or admit. If THEY ‘lock’ a door, that is their choice, frequently made.

            I don’t understand the enemy and wanting their cheese analogy. That’s not something I would do. I’m not a manipulator. I live up front, direct, clear, striving to be rational. Why do I want some bad guy’s cheese?

            There is a gap, part of that long history I mention above, between world views of productive and relational personalities. It can be profound. Imagine my revelation when I learned about this personality clash and finally understood why I found that the worst persecutors, passive aggressives and bullies in my life were all people with relational personalities. “AHA!” moment. Now I understood what was going on, that there was no way I would make sense to them or they to me.

            This is all part of human diversity. Diversity rules. Each group of personalities has a crucial part to play in human survival.

            It takes books to work out the details of this phenomenon. I can point out that I learned a lot of this information from a class and conversations I had with a guy named Dr. Tony Alessandra. He has a relational personality by default but teaches about human personalities and business, aka ‘organizational behavior’ using the clash of producer versus relational personalities as one of his main concepts. He has toned down his discussion of the subject over the past 15 years, probably due to negative responses from people in marketing. But it remains part of what he teaches. You can read, hear and watch some of his recent work at:

            http://www.platinumrule.com

            No, I’m not spamming or being a cultist. He’s just a smart guy I met once at one of his classes, we had a kewl chat, his concepts helped me understand some fundamentals.

  7. the tao says “governing a great country is like cooking a small fish ”

    this means that you have to handle it delicately ,as little as possible and with minimal movement .

    i see the whole apple bashing as a retaliation to the public spanking of the Chinese government for the cyber attacks the ip numbers were traced to a single Chinese spook building for christ sakes. this type of politic and misdirection is classic sun tzu

  8. The trade war started in earnest about 3 decades ago.

    It’s not hard to identify a narrow period of time when US CEO compensation increased by an order of magnitude, US factories began closing by the dozen, average US worker pay flatlined, average personal credit card balance averages began extending despite the inrush of dual-income households, and China’s air and water quickly became a cesspool.

    What’s sad is that US representatives continue to work for multinational corporations that actively undermine future prosperity of the USA. Fair trade, not “free trade”, would allow nations to prosper without abuse of labor or environment — and without absurd discrepancies in pay within a single organization. But then, citizens would have to care about long term economic freedom more than the next cheap disposable plastic Chinese gadget.

    Boycott Walmart to save what’s left of the USA’s manufacturing infrastructure.

  9. There are several different things going on here. First Apple is almost certainly finding it near impossible to provide its normal level of customer service in China working largely through resellers. The apology about guarantee arrangements was probably justified on the facts.
    Second Apple is in a critical phase of a negotiation which will put it in central position in China’s mobile setup with a state corporation and, surprise, like good capitalists China Telecoms are trying to stack the deck.
    There may be a third arm wrestle under way on how large a net of its own branded and managed stores China will allow.
    In all of these Apple has to play on a hostile court under local rules and it is looking for on the ground access that eg Google does not need. But not any sort of trade war just a hard negotiation and a necessary move in it.
    At anther level there is of course industrial espionage and IP theft but this as others have pointed out is not new (Japan) and a well known risk of outsourcing. The Chinese may however also be sore at Apple disrupting their cost model by for forcing up labour costs at Foxconn etc. But a threat to reduce manufacturing there if realistic would.not impress the Chinese.

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