back to article China doesn't need to nick western tech when Google is giving it away

Fearing China's growing economic might, the United States is reportedly leaning on foreign companies not to buy Huawei gear. While Congress and the "security community" worry about, well, security issues, Trump has complained many times about IP theft. China is stealing its way to victory, the narrative goes, and spying on you …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Welcome to capitalism

    So, in essence, the article is saying that Google made a rational decision based on its own immediate goals which turns out to have a longer-term negative impact on the US as a whole. Welcome to Capitalism.

    1. James 51

      Re: Welcome to capitalism

      Not just capitalism, it's a particular type of capitalism. If China wasn't such a repressive and aggressive imperial power I think a lot of people would be less worried about how it is poised to take advantage of socities that can't or won't stand up for themselves.

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Welcome to capitalism

        > If China wasn't such a repressive and aggressive imperial power...

        Oh please! That's such a time worn cliche. China isn't a single entity, its 1.3billion people indulging their version of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" aided by a government that understands the value of investments in both people and infrastructure. Their commercial success isn't anything new, they were running a huge surplus with 'the West' (in this case the British Empire) by the mid-19th century which we tried to fix using military might (the Opium Wars and various incursions by western powers into Chinese territory). We're making the same mistake now -- instead of treating this like a huge sports league where the only way to get -- and stay -- on top is to continually up your game we're still at the 'send in the gunboats' stage.

        The constant barrage of propaganda in the media is getting tedious. People wonder why governments have historically low credibility with populations easy prey for populists, the answer is that governments aren't delivering for the people and they're trying to force "2 + 2 = 5" type thought onto the unwilling and skeptical. If we keep this up we will lose (but we'll probably take the world down with us in the process -- nothing like Total War for being good for business).

      2. G Fan

        Re: Welcome to capitalism

        > If China wasn't such a repressive and aggressive imperial power

        Ironic reading this, when I've just landed in Iraq.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Welcome to capitalism

          Er, Iraq had a habit of attacking it's neighbours under Saddam Hussain... Or had you forgotten that?

    2. deadlockvictim

      Re: Welcome to capitalism

      Google's actions have made Google's shareholders richer. Isn't this the basis of capitalism?

      That America (or anybody else) has suffered is the will of the free market.

      Is it written into law that corporations are suppose to have the public good in mind?

      Capitalism is about winners and losers. Google wins and others lose.

      You might as well be suggesting that the socialists in Scandinavia have a point when you start tying corporations to national, state or local wellbeing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Welcome to capitalism

        There isn't socialism in Scandinavia.

        There's social democracies.

        Similar names, completely, utterly, different ideologies.

      2. Insert sadsack pun here

        Re: Welcome to capitalism

        "You might as well be suggesting that the socialists in Scandinavia have a point when you start tying corporations to national, state or local wellbeing"

        Mate, I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not "might as well be suggesting that", I'm absolutely agreeing with that.

        I have my suspicions about which side of the Atlantic you're from and how many times you've been to the Oppressive Socialist Republics of Scandinavia...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Welcome to Capitalism"

      That's just one type of capitalism - the self-destroying one. "Rational" decision, or ill-fated one because of lack of good rationals beyond quick money?

      In the past thirty-twenty years, especially in the US (but also exported in other countries), Wall Street has been able to enforce a "single mind" - a very communist approach like the Chinese one, after all - about capitalism - obviously the one that best suited its own interests only - where the wealth of the Party, ooops, Wall Street, is the wealth of the people. It's a common oligarchic view and approach, followed already in the past with dire results.

      The issue is too many believed it once again, for pure personal interests. or gullibility

      A pure financial capitalism where share prices and "targets" are the only metric - outside any real measurement of a business health, and its capability to retain and get customers (and creating new ones through good jobs and wages...), and last in time, beyond the next quarterly results.

      Very few challenged this "single mind" - and the results are under our eyes.

      1. James 51

        Re: "Welcome to Capitalism"

        Maybe we should get Blair back to talk about his third way.

        1. Insert sadsack pun here

          Re: "Welcome to Capitalism"


  2. Buzzword

    One word: Tizen

    Samsung were in the same position as Huawei a few years ago. I don't expect to see Tizen dominate the market any time soon.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One word: Tizen

      That's because the large majority of Samsung's market is in countries where Google's tools provided added value to their customers. That's not true in China, where hardly any phones include Google's stuff. It is all Baidu, WeChat, etc. and they have their own app stores.

      The barriers to entry for a non-Android operating system are far smaller in China than in the US or EU. Though I'm not sure what they would gain by switching - they are already getting all the post-sale advertising dollars from those phones, not Google.

      They may be kicking the tires on Fuschia so they are ready if/when Google switches from Android to Fuschia. Though I question whether Google will be able to pull off such a transition. What incentive will all the third party OEMs who have been using Android for years have to switch? What incentive will developers have to port their apps to a new API until there is a large installed base? Google selling a few million Pixels isn't going to induce developers to follow them, any more than Microsoft selling a few million Windows Phones induced developers to follow them. If Google makes Fuschia Android API compatible, then no one will ever develop Fuschia apps.

  3. h4rm0ny

    It was never theirs to give away.

    Android was built on Open Source software. For the most part, Google couldn't make it theirs. However, that didn't stop them doing everything in their power to lock it down and shut out other people, all the while touting how Not Evil they were and using Open Source as a marketing point.

    Google engineers have given a lot back. But in other ways the company itself as pulled some VERY sneaky moves to lock out others from Android. The following is a very good read on the subject.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It was never theirs to give away.

      I don't like Google either, but the truth is that this whole article is B.S. So crappy Google was the one to push a open O.S. for mobile FIRST. If it wasn't google it would of been someone else... come on.

      This article might as well blame Linux as a whole for giving tools to crooks. Or even blame Dennis Ritchie or something ridiculous for giving language tools for rapid development. But then, what about Tesla, he was the culprit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It was never theirs to give away.

        @overunder: re: "this whole article is B.S."

        It's called clickbait for a reason...

  4. Suricou Raven

    So whose is it?

    When a private company invests in making something of potential commercial value, who actually gets to control it? Is it the company? Or is it the country in which that company is based?

    Open source has long celebrated publishing new technology for the benefit of all mankind. I don't think developers - or businesses out to make a profit - particularly care to get dragged into contests between rival countries.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "publishing new technology for the benefit of all mankind"

      The road to hell is paved with good intentions...

      Especially because I don't trust mankind.

  5. The Original Steve

    "I doubt many in the West would happily use a Chinese phone in 2018."

    I disagree.

    After your review singing it's praises (other than price) I brought myself a Huawei Mate20 Pro on Saturday. My S8, whilst having lovely hardware, has been terrible on the software front (lag, freezes etc.). Due to shitty insurance (give to us for 3 weeks and we'll consider sending you a refurb) the screen cracks on the S8 were too much to take, so needed a decent phone "now", and the latest Huawei ticks every box other than SD card slot (NM instead) and 3.5mm socket.

    And to be honest, now I've changed the launcher to Microsoft Launcher (I know, but it's really rather good) I can truthfully say that in fact I now prefer the Huawei UI to Samsung.

    Early days, but my first look at a Chinese handset is a very positive one.

  6. Teiwaz

    Android King and God?

    If Android had not been invested in and relied upon by Google as their base, something else would have been.

    Another Linux based variant possibly - There was a niche for a not-apple variant in the market, and Android fitted.

    The alternate/parallel world variant might not have the same welly Android has accumulated and it's share might be lesser and perhaps room for another platform (no bad thing).

    As to Google 'giving away' western tech to China - that boat sailed long ago when electronics was first farmed out Asia - they first copied better than western produced goods then began to innovate better. Inevitable in the s/w side the same pattern would emerge eventually.

    Although China have wanted to replace desktop platforms with something under their own control for some time, and have failed several times.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " Inevitable in the s/w side the same pattern would emerge eventually"

      Not so easily. Look at Japan - they never were a software powerhouse (but maybe some videogames), despite their lead in electronics and other sectors. Same for Korea.

      Software needs a very different approach, because it heavily interacts with humans and their cultural norms. Far East languages and thereby text interaction don't help them at all. Heck, each Chinese made UI starts with an ugly font!!!

      Just look at how even India, despite its huge number of developers it also exports or hire, can't develop big software companies with worldwide products - they lack the mindset, and that's hard to create.

      I'm more afraid one day we'll be forced to adapt to Chinese software....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: each Chinese made UI starts with an ugly font!!!

        Just out of curiosity, do the Chinese who design it think the font is ugly? What about the Chinese who (might) use it?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC - Re: " Inevitable in the s/w side the same pattern would emerge eventually"

        Software is not enough to develop a big company, or any company for that matter. It's how you lock-in your customers and knock off competition.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Software is not enough to develop a big company"

          Like Microsoft or Google, for example? Or SAP? Or Oracle? You may not like all of them, but they are big companies and all of them became with software only, even if they have entered the hardware business later... while Apple is successful in hardware lock-in for example.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "There was a niche for a not-apple variant in the market"

      That's true, but it isn't clear that niche would have been filled by only one OS, rather than several. Just as it isn't pain-free to switch between iOS and Android, in such an alternative world it might be more difficult to switch between Motorola and Samsung, or Huawei and LG.

      1. Denarius

        Re: "There was a niche for a not-apple variant in the market"

        @DougS: It is hard enough to switch between Android phones, let alone between Apples whatever and Android. Pity BlackBerry failed with QNX. Love to have seen how the Oz snoopers would try to trojan that.

  7. Nightkiller

    Using Open Source to end 1.1 Billion people's ability to sidestep the State's intrusion into their lives. How ironic.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think it funny, also scary, how people just seem to believe what they are told by the current government in America. Trump has an agenda, he has been pushing it since before he came to power. He has added taxes to products from China, in an attempt to get things made in the US (except the stuff he sells). Since coming to power there has been increased talk about China and backdoors, reports with no actual evidence coming from government insiders, or just directly from the horses mouth, with a trust me, buy American, cos we don't put in back doors, if any are found it's for your own good.

    All i can say is, America is currently at war with China, a trade war, and the American propaganda machine is at full throttle.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Tariffs are a poor remedy for either issue

      Regardless of what one thinks about Trump, it is pretty obvious that manufacturing jobs have been leaving the US and going to China. There have been reports of Chinese IP theft from the previous three administrations, so it isn't just a recent Trump thing, or even a D vs R thing.

      The question is whether government policy can make any difference. If trade barriers are erected high enough with China, those manufacturing jobs will leave China but they will go to some other low wage country like Vietnam. They aren't coming back to the US, so a trade war in an attempt to bring manufacturing back home is doomed to failure unless you put tariffs on imports from every country with lower wages than the US (and if people think that's a good idea, they need to read their history)

      If you want to reduce Chinese IP theft, I'm not sure what the remedy would be, but tariffs aren't a solution. China could still sell products containing stolen US IP within China, as well as to every other country who didn't give in to the inevitable US pressure to erect similar trade barriers. China would probably be successful in getting countries under its sphere of influence to block imports of US products containing that same IP, so would likely hurt those US companies to even try such pressure.

      1. strum

        Re: Tariffs are a poor remedy for either issue

        >Regardless of what one thinks about Trump, it is pretty obvious that manufacturing jobs have been leaving the US and going to China.

        It's not nearly as obvious as you might think. The chief destroyer of US jobs hasn't been China - it's been automation in general.

        Trade wars aren't going to 'bring back' those jobs. On the contrary, the high taxes are going to impinge even harder on US prices.

  9. larokus

    For a century the world abuses China to take advantage of cheap labour. (Manufacturing, the awful conditions the Chinese faced during railroad construction in north America, etc) Then we chastise them for nicking information to modernize. Now that China is rapidly becoming a world leader in high speed rail, electric cars, drones, AI, robotics, etc, maybe we should potentially consider putting the IP blame game to rest, since world + dog will be looking to copy China IP in a few years time at most. Just thinking aloud.

    1. dogcatcher

      After the war Japan used to make cheap tin-plate toys which fell to pieces within a week or so. As a result I regarded anything Japanese as total rubbish until I started doing business with the country. I had to rapidly change my prejudices; I'm not going to make the same mistake about Chinese technology.

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    TS/SCI .... Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information

    Google, as well as every other search engine, have an Achilles heel problem. And it's the information and intelligence they don't present in page rankings, when that info and intel is readily available and freely shared, for it surely reveals what search engine optimisers/censors fear be disruptive and revolutionary/novel and otherworldly.

    And if you aint hosting and freely sharing TS/SCI, you're mining it for presentation of an early advantage to A.N.Others.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is open for a reason

    Much as I have always been unimpressed by Eric Schmidt (way back in the day when I worked and suffered under him at Sun) and less than impressed by aspects of Giggle, I have to say their hearts (and minds) have been in the right place about this. This is essentially a do-over for Sun's failure to be seriously open source because those of us who had a career even before Sun had long since realized that open source is the quickest way to *improve* your product. Think DECUS. Google actually does take feedback on the source it has releases at least semi-seriously. They looked at the *BSD and Linux model and said, "Uh, yeah, that makes sense".

    This is completely orthogonal to the paternalistic tendencies they have which makes them more or less indistinguishable from Microsoft circa 2001 (why, to have the *best* experience you need *all of our bits*!).

    In terms of Huawei, there's no question that Huawei steals. They're just less sophisticated about it than others. When I interviewed there a few years back they were absolutely pumping me and making clear that whatever secret sauce bits I had about flash from DSSD should be made available to them pronto. The VP on the phone was not amused when I said "It's just software- you can write it again".

    The real question about Huawei is less the IP "theft", or about how the CMs in China on getting far more details about the bits they're burning onto the hw you're having them build than they need, but how much live data is diverted back to government entities. At least with Giggle knowing when and where we eliminate the results of a turkey feast we have a pretty clear idea about what that knowledge will be used for.

  12. John Savard


    Android is, to some extent, a modified version of Linux.

    Google may have given away platform access to China, so that their own companies could make and export Android phones, instead of simply being a supplier to Apple for its iPhone.

    But it didn't give away technology to China; China''s supercomputers aren't better able to design thermonuclear warheads for the Chinese military because of secrets learned from Android that you wouldn't find in Linux or BSD.

    Maybe that statement uses an excessively narrow definition of "technology" (some code in Android actually does something, as opposed to defining an API, so there is the technology of just-in-time compilation which Android may exemplify particularly well), but I think that the article, as it stands, is not in a condition to convince many people of the point it is making.

  13. steviebuk Silver badge


    ...should also point the finger at Apple, for having all it's phones made in China. Point at the hobby industry, where they do a master copy of a display model in the US, then ship it to China to be copied and painted for mass market (seen that on Tested and several people were up in arms, considering the price for the Chines made versions were just as high as if they were made in America).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trump...

      It's not that simple. It takes considerable manufacturing expertise to make millions of handsets really quickly. The USA doesn't have that expertise. It doesn't have the factories. China does.

      For Apple to repatriate the manufacturing, they'd inevitability lose a lot of profit or you'd be paying lots more for the handset.

  14. RexMundi

    When America is complaining about people stealing tech, maybe they should look into there own past. Stealing tech in the early Industrial Revolution was an American game, China is just using there playbook.

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