back to article Revealed: The semi-secret list of techs Beijing really really wishes it didn't have to import

China has identified "chokepoints" that leave it dependent on foreign countries for key technologies, and the US-based Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) claims to have translated and published key document that name the technologies about which Beijing is most worried. CSET considered 35 articles published in …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "wishing it had an alternative to Microsoft Windows"

    I seem to recall that it does : it's called Kylin. There are apparently already several forks of it.

    Kylin is reportedly compatible with "10,000 hardware and software products" and the Android ecosystem.

    As far as the chokepoints are concerned, this is the ideal time for China's engineers to rise to the occasion and develop the code to do the job in Linux, which will practically guarantee that their code is what is used in the future where Windows is finally relegated to the games box it deserves to be.

    Sure, it'll take some time, but they have the manpower and engineering nous to get it done. A word from Xi Pooh and it's as good as done.

    1. 3arn0wl

      Re: "wishing it had an alternative to Microsoft Windows"

      That would seem to be a logical and relatively easy step... And Kylin's been available for a while now. What's stopping that from happening? Honest question... The relatively new German government are talking about moving to open source software. Heck! Even the UK government (!) talked about using open standards in software a while ago. So what stops it from happening?

      They could also go X86-free, I would have thought.

      (I realise that the article is about 'higher-purpose' tech, really, which presents a much larger problem for them. But actually, perhaps the world needs to relearn that it's good for humanity that we have to uphold one another.)

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: "talking about moving to open source software"

        Yeah, well that's not new.

        Germany is always talking about it, but is mainly using that as an excuse to have Borkzilla lower its license fees.

        I don't recall reading about any case where it was done seriously enough to actually allow the project to succeed.

        1. karlkarl Silver badge

          Re: "talking about moving to open source software"

          Very true. As well intentioned as every engineer / project manager is at finding solutions to going open-source. The bean counters will always only ever use it as a bartering chip to lower Microsoft's bids, knowing full well they were going to choose Microsoft anyway.

          I think this needs to happen at schools. Similar to how Apple targeted "cool students" back around 2010 which pulled it into the industry a little as they grew up. Perhaps these locked down Apple, Chromebook tablets that many schools got conned into buying will at least weaken the kid's knowledge of Windows and make it easier to jump ship in later life.

          1. 3arn0wl

            Re: "talking about moving to open source software"

            I absolutely agree with you that schools ought to be using open source - not only to promote open source software (and hopefully hardware in the not too distant future), but also as a statement about the imperative for knowledge to be openly available to all. However, people using Apple's (very closed) products are probably using Miscrosoft's products on them too. :/

            The other grossly unfair advantage that Microsoft enjoys, is at point of sale - you won't find a High Street outlet offering a Linux machine, and it's never mentioned that the price the consumer is paying includes the cost of a Microsoft license (at least not in the UK). Why isn't this blatantly unfair business advantage addressed?

            But, as for China - the government seems to be politely asking government workers, and employees at companies majority owned by the state, to move over to something else : a request, rather than a demand. There's no suggestion of a tax on imported electronics, or of an import ban on US-IP software or hardware.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @3arn0wl - Re: "talking about moving to open source software"

              Sorry to bring you back to the cruel reality but schools have no idea of open source.

              1. Zolko Silver badge

                Re: @3arn0wl - "talking about moving to open source software"

                schools have no idea of open source.

                very true. Schools only care about "what's everybody using " and "how much does it cost ". So Micro$oft tells them that everybody is using M$ Windows and M$ Word, and that they'll give an "education license " quasi for free. Thus, kids are raised on Windows and Word, and don't even know that other things exist outside of that.

    2. Pseu Donyme

      re: Kylin

      The EU would do well with something similar. A supported version of AOSP (with its own app store and possibly other key services) wouldn't go amiss either. The idea with these would be that all software and hardware bought with public monies in the EU would have to support these not that they'd be mandatory to use. Creating some competition like this would be good, as would the strategic independence in case of Trump mk II (i.e. someone not only malevolent but also competent with it) especially considering the cost of a relative pittance.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Pseu Donyme - Re: re: Kylin

        No, EU would never dare to do that. They can't risk alienating their big friend on the other side of the pond.

  2. vekkq

    Patents

    Since "intellectual property" was mentioned, which includes patents, how can you get rid of the dependence on patents without waiting for 20 years or exiting the WTO agreement?

    1. Joe W Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Patents

      Dunno... maybe (and that might seem like a stretch) ignoring them? Not that I am suggesting they would do anything like that...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Patents

        again.

        1. stiine Silver badge

          Re: Patents

          Do you mean 'still'?

          This had to be the least accurate paragraph in the article:

          "However, the series of article was overall hopeful that dependency on foreign core technologies is on the decline, thanks to homegrown science and engineering advances, reverse engineering, and corporate acquisitions."

          Becuase it doesn't mention industrial espionage.

      2. HildyJ Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Patents

        Or maybe filing your own. From the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization:

        "The highest number of patents in force was recorded in the U.S. (3.3 million), followed by China (3.1 million), Japan (2 million) the Republic of Korea (1.1 million) and Germany (0.8 million)."

        In 2020 they applied for almost three times as many patents as the US. The threat they pose is that they are becoming not just an economic power but an intellectual power.

        Keep in mind that all your 5g kit runs on Huawei patents.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Patents

      If you want to set up a company in China, you need a local Chinese backer who gets to hold 51% of the company and its access to its IP. That;s partly, some would say mainly, how China has industrialised and gone high tech so quickly. The choke points appear to be technology, equipment, machinery and materials where no one has set up a local company giving them access to the IP and patents. This means they have to develop it locally. Even with their large numbers of well staffed universities and R&D operations, this still takes time, even when you already know it can be done rather than starting from scratch with blue sky research.

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: Patents

        They already have ARM.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A local Chinese backer who gets ... access to its IP.

        Re: "If you want to set up a company in China, you need a local Chinese backer who gets to hold 51% of the company and its access to its IP."

        In the not too distant future the short-sighted greedy companies that did this may well be considered treasonous. A very dangerous betrayal given how blatantly obvious the terms made the objective.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A local Chinese backer who gets ... access to its IP.

          The Chinese being last to the party, saw how US multinational labour-only worked out in the Philippines and Malaysia. China and Taiwan didn't make the same mistake.

          Don't blame them for learning and not letting US corporates just suck the country dry for cheap labour then move on to the next cheaper place, leaving little of lasting value behind.

          They could see what US corporations did elsewhere and would do to them, and as you say, the US corporates could clearly see what the Chinese needed and planned to do.

          This was willing buyer, willing seller. The US is just suffering buyers remorse and a hangover now. Shouldn't have gorged at the trough like swine. In no way is gluttony China's fault.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @vekkq - Re: Patents

      Try economic sanctions, war, whatever is necessary. Some people in the US have seriously been considering it.

  3. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Another problem the translated documents describe is that Chinese companies act in their own interest, rather than the national interest. That means some buy components from trusted foreign sources rather than Chinese sources.

    In related news Western companies act in their own interest, rather than the national interest. That means some whore themselves to cheap foreign labour with controlling JV arrangements rather than using trusted Western factories.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Western factories ?

      Which ones ?

      They've all been "outsourced".

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    Kylin is full of giggles

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kylin_(operating_system)

    Development of Kylin began in 2001, when the National University of Defense Technology was assigned the mission of developing an operating system under the 863 Program intended to make China independent of foreign technology.

    That paragraph is about the FreeBSD version of Kylin. As we all know, FreeBSD was invented and developed in China. Totally not in the US and its imperialist lackeys. But, let's continue:

    In April 2006, it was said that the Kylin operating system was largely based on FreeBSD 5.3. An anonymous Chinese student in Australia, who used the pseudonym "Dancefire", carried out a kernel similarity analysis and showed that the similarities between the two operating systems reached 99.45 percent.

    That's what I call independence of foreign technology. Achievement unlocked.

    The operating system of the Tianhe-1 supercomputer is 64-bit Kylin Linux, which is oriented to high-performance parallel computing optimization, and supports power management and high-performance virtual computing. The newer Tianhe-2 also uses Kylin Linux.

    That's great. It looks like Kylin Linux is even more independent of foreign technology than Kylin FreeBSD ever was.

    In 2013, Canonical reached an agreement with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People's Republic of China to release an Ubuntu-based Linux OS with features targeted at the Chinese market.

    And now, Canonical. The totally-not-foreign-technology-linux-distro-company.

    Dear China: cut the bullshit. It takes a lot more than Xi Pooh's decrees, a five-year plan and some propaganda material to write an operating system from scratch.

    1. Zolko Silver badge

      Re: Kylin is full of giggles

      That's what I call independence of foreign technology.

      I sense the irony of your message, but not the underlying information: if what you say is true – I don't know, but let's accept it – then on what foreign country would they depend on for the Kylin (Linux or FreeBSD) OS ? Because from what I know, this is all open source, developed by people from all over the planet, available for everybody independently from anybody.

      So yes, despite your irony, they are independent from foreign technology. They are as independent as you are from Chinese "technology " when using explosives or pasta, both invented in China. We're all standing on the shoulders of giants.

  5. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

    China may be capable of developing homegrown tech, but it's so much easier, cheaper and quicker to steal it.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Another problem the translated documents describe is that Chinese companies act in their own interest, rather than the national interest."

    Huh, just like companies in capitalistic systems.

    "...Why pick up a rock and hit yourself? But that’s how China has always done things, they’ve always had documents like that and failed, and produced new ones every five years.”

    Again, just like companies in capitalistic systems.

    1. Zolko Silver badge

      Nothing new

      they’ve always had documents like that and failed, and produced new ones every five years.

      like the Rand Corporation, or the "Project for a New American Century", or the "Great Reset" by Schwab, or the "New World Order", or any other think-tank crap that the US has produced. So why do they still write this ? Yet they do.

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