China Daily and People’s Daily, China’s leading media outlets have been used as outlets for many Chinese to vent their anger toward the U.S. government recently, specifically targeting firms like Google and Apple. Wednesday the Chinese media called on Beijing to punish the American firms in question for monitoring China and stealing state secrets. They are now seeking local alternatives to punish the American firms for their participation in the invasion of China’s national security.
Referring to Apple, Google, Cisco, Yahoo, Facebook and Microsoft as “pawns” of the U.S. government, the Chinese media claimed that the U.S.is trying to threaten the security of its netizens. With comments on the People’s Daily blog exhibiting an anti-American tone, the English language daily China Daily followed suit. While it is still unclear as to why this sudden tirade against the U.S. has sparked such rage, China has yet to state what information has been stolen by the firms.
The Chinese have attacked the firms repeatedly in the past for participating in projects such as a surveillance program used in cyber spying, as revealed by the National Security Agency (NSA) agent Edward Snowden. Following these revelations, the Chinese are seeking to punish the American firms by ditching its technology in favor of a domestic route. State-owned Chinese firms have stopped using the services of Cisco, IBM and Oracle, making Snowden’s revelations a huge blow to the U.S. financial market. Analysts speculate losses to the tune of billions of dollars to the tech firms the Chinese are targeting.
In addition to calling the U.S. a “villain” and likening Google, Microsoft and the other firms to “pawns” that offer information to the NSA’s PRISM and monitored China, the headline, which is also featured on the official microblog, stated that China would draw up international regulations to strengthen its guard with technology to resist U.S dominance through the internet. They also called for a severe punishment of the “pawns,” stating the top priority was to strengthen punishments and penalties for the “thieves,” despite their distance.
On Monday this week, Google reported on issues in China. A censor watchdog reported disruptions in the services offered by Google ahead of the 25th anniversary of the ’89 Democracy Movement demonstration at Beijing’s famed Tiananmen Square. David Drummond, the chief legal officer of Google, reiterated in an email that Google had no access either direct or indirect to Chinese servers. In the email statement sent out on Wednesday, he clarified further that user data was provided to the government according to the law.
While Microsoft declined a comment on the issue, Cisco, Facebook and Yahoo were not available for comments to Reuters, although they previously denied any role in the PRISM or any such surveillance program. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, in an interview with ABC in April, denied references to a back door entry into China, a statement Apple referred to on Wednesday as their official statement.
Facebook is censored in China, but with increased use of the social media site as advertising space by locals, the Chinese government relented and offered to open a local sales office for support. Since Snowden’s NSA leaks, the U.S. found their technological ties with China weakening. In May, for example, Microsoft’s Windows 8 was banned on computers in the central government offices. In December 2013, Google, Yahoo and a whole host of tech firms, petitioned Barack Obama in an open letter to change and curb surveillance activities. The U.S., in May, charged five Chinese officers with hacking U.S. firms to steal trade secrets. This did not seem to go down well with the Chinese, as the ruling induced outrage, and Beijing was pushed to develop local alternatives to the services the U.S. firms offered. The Chinese accused the U.S. of double standards in cases of cyber espionage while referring to them as “a high-level hooligan.”
Following these charges, China is now seeking ways to punish the American firms. Determined to decrease their dependency on IT products and services from the U.S., the Chinese are investigating local providers to support economic and social development, but mainly to protect their national security.
By Rathan Paul Harshavardan