The Latest Attack
Bloomberg Businessweek just published a stunning story detailing the Chinese state-sponsored espionage committed against nearly 30 U.S. companies. In short, the People’s Liberation Army compromised the supply chain of Supermicro, a company that is effectively the “Microsoft” of hardware. Supermicro designs and distributes high performance servers to its list of global clients, which include the likes of Amazon, Apple, and the U.S. Department of Defense. The Chinese spies implanted small, barely detectable microchips in these servers, which created entry points for hackers to view, modify, or delete data. This hack has terrifying implications, as Supermicro exposed U.S. government secrets and U.S. intellectual property to malicious actors.
China has been in the news a lot lately due in large part to the ongoing trade tensions with the U.S. U.S. companies had taken the cheap Chinese labor for granted as they continued to outsource manufacturing operations to the Eastern nation. While this practice increased corporate profits, the increase came at the expense of U.S. jobs. Moreover, China has emerged as a superpower rivaling the U.S. It’s economy rose sharply as a result of voluminous number of exports. The Chinese government invested heavily in technology and has been effective in locking U.S. technology companies from access to its consumers. We will see this rift between nations widen as competition for global supremacy intensifies.
Autocracy as an Alternative
Xi Jinping, the President of China, has won the support of China’s National People’s Congress to remove term limits from the Chinese presidency. He now has a lifetime tenure to advance his vision for the country he controls unchecked. To better ensure dissent among the population is muted, China has implemented a sophisticated means of censorship throughout its internet, technology applications, and news outlets. The U.S. has struggled to penetrate the Chinese market, as applications like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Google have been banned in favor of the Chinese sponsored WeChat, Tencent, and Baidu. The Chinese government’s control over the more than one billion inhabitants provides it with invaluable streams of data. These data points can be used to tighten the country’s grip on its people and further power its hypergrowth.
China has demonstrated that democracy is not the only form of government that propels an emerging market to a global superpower. We are now seeing other countries install charismatic strongmen as their heads of state. Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela all resemble China in their autocratic rule of their populations. These countries continue to further insulate themselves from democratic nations, resulting in sanctions, cyber warfare, and sharpened rhetoric. Unfortunately, with a viable alternative to democracy, it’s unlikely that these tensions between nations will subside. In fact, we can expect more countries to shift further away from democracy. The peace between superpowers we have witnessed following the end of World War II is ebbing away. Centralization of power, state censorship, and a strengthening economy had been three of the main factors that led to the German population’s acceptance of war. We can only hope that we don’t need to prepare for another one.
If you want to discuss China’s rise further, leave a comment in the comment section or contact me.