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Google.cn Attack Part of a Broad Spying Effort 515

CWmike writes "Google's decision Tuesday to risk walking away from China (Um, the world's largest Internet market) may have come as a shock, but security experts see it as the most public admission of a top IT problem for US companies: ongoing corporate espionage originating from China. It's a problem that the US lawmakers have complained about loudly. In the corporate world, online attacks that appear to come from China have been an ongoing problem for years, but big companies haven't said much about this, eager to remain in the good graces of the world's powerhouse economy. Google, by implying that Beijing had sponsored the attack, has placed itself in the center of an international controversy, exposing what appears to be a state-sponsored corporate espionage campaign that compromised more than 30 technology, financial and media companies, most of them global Fortune 500 enterprises. The US government is taking the attack seriously. Late Tuesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement asking the Chinese government to explain itself, saying that Google's allegations 'raise very serious concerns and questions.' She continued: 'The ability to operate with confidence in cyberspace is critical in a modern society and economy.'"
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Google.cn Attack Part of a Broad Spying Effort

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  • by Cornwallis ( 1188489 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:02PM (#30753414)

    That ought to scare 'em.

  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:04PM (#30753434) Homepage Journal

    ...asking the Chinese government to explain itself

    Why is the government wasting time with this? Everybody knows what the answer is going to be, the Chinese government is going to deny everything and change nothing. Unless Secretary Clinton is willing to back up those words with some sort of action, they are just a waste of breath.

    • by Mashhaster ( 1396287 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:18PM (#30753622)

      The same reason I heard from my manager at one of the investment banks that went tits up. The same reason we spend billions on security theater.

      "Perception is reality."

      While on the face of it this is a crass and ridiculous statement, the fact remains that it makes some kind of warped, diabolical sense once you are under a certain level of scrutiny. It becomes more important to look like you're making a difference, than to actually make one. If you are perceived to be adding value and working hard, you can be slacking off all day and still get promoted at the end of the day.

      Honestly, it seems to me more like a publicity stunt than anything. Keep the other party from getting more ammo, while making the uninformed feel good and warm and fuzzy inside.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        It isn't diabolical in the least. Averting panic is half the battle.

    • Statescraft (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:22PM (#30753672) Homepage Journal
      Why is the government wasting time with this? Everybody knows what the answer is going to be, the Chinese government is going to deny everything and change nothing. Unless Secretary Clinton is willing to back up those words with some sort of action, they are just a waste of breath.

      Because by publicly asking the government to respond, they are making them look like a pack of inept idiots. It tells the rest of the world that they are attempting to spy (still), and doing a bad job of it. Security services globally will probably now be reviewing their intrusion detection procedures, making it more difficult for the Chinese government skript kiddies to make headway toward their goals. It will scare away some companies considering investment in China, slowing their internal ecenomic growth, and costing them money. It is also the first step in the diplomatic process that can lead to condemnations from the UN, sanctions, or even war. Rational states don't simply skip to straight to attacking other states over stuff like this.

      The very fact that they have put this in the public realm as opposed to quietly telling the Chinese government that they know what they are doing (which they have been for years) indicates that the next step in the process is being taken.
      • Re:Statescraft (Score:4, Interesting)

        by zorg50 ( 581726 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:31PM (#30754766)

        It is also the first step in the diplomatic process that can lead to condemnations from the UN, sanctions, or even war.

        Would the UN condemn one of the five countries in its own Security Council?

      • Re:Statescraft (Score:4, Interesting)

        by spinkham ( 56603 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @04:59PM (#30756112)

        They are NOT doing a bad job of it, and they are much more skilled then "script kiddies".

        When organizations like Google and people like Richard Bejtlich (who has literally written the book [amazon.com] on network monitoring and incident detection) admit to being p0wn3d and unable to be sure the mess is cleaned up [blogspot.com], you know you're up against a very sophisticated attacker.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mjwx ( 966435 )

        Because by publicly asking the government to respond, they are making them look like a pack of inept idiots.

        Most Americans don't have any idea just how much this means*. Face is everything in Chinese (most Asian) cultures, China was caught with it's hand in the biscuit jar doing something it shouldn't have been and now the US govt is publically pointing this out. This is causing a loss of face for the Chinese politicians. This one is not easy to explain to people without first hand experience with the con

    • by Xtravar ( 725372 )

      Why are you wasting time criticizing her? It's not like her words can make the situation worse. She's not going to listen to you.

      Oh snap.

    • by je ne sais quoi ( 987177 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:24PM (#30753694)
      Don't you think she knows that? It's called protocol. Either A) she's just putting up a strong showing for american audiences and has said something completely different to the Chinese, or B) she really is going to do something. Who knows what? So far Obama has not shown much interest in rocking the boat any (see Wall Street bail out for evidence) but Hillary Clinton is not exactly the kind to shy away from a fight.

      It'll be interesting -- I would like to see some tougher trade policies with China. For me personally, I'm really tired of importing Chinese goods that are made with no pollution controls, especially when those goods are laced with cadmium or melamine. I'm also annoyed that they sabotaged the Copenhagen talks [guardian.co.uk] on climate change. In fact, this could be exactly what the administration is reacting to, maybe Obama et al. got burned and are in no mood to play nice with China the way past presidents have done.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by KermodeBear ( 738243 )

        So far Obama has not shown much interest in rocking the boat

        Obama, by putting Hillary in this position, has marginalized her. He essentially controls what she can and cannot do, and what she can and cannot say. Do you really think that she put this statement out without approval from the President?

        On a side note: I don't like Obama or Hillary, but I would rather have Hillary in office because she, at least, has significant political expertise and knows how to make the country feel good. She wouldn't wait 3

      • by je ne sais quoi ( 987177 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:41PM (#30753968)
        Further reasons the administration might not like what China is doing right now are economic. China ties their currency exchange rate to the U.S. dollar in a way that keeps theirs low relative to ours. This essentially creates a permanent trade imbalance between the exporter (CHina) and the importers (U.S. mostly, also Europe). I hear people say all the time that China owns a huge portion of the U.S. debt and it would be a big disaster economically if they sold that debt. This is incorrect, if the Chinese sold their U.S. debt they'd be doing us a favor because it would depress the value of the dollar and make our manufacturing more competitive. In the past when unemployment has been rock-bottom in the U.S., this wouldn't help us much. Right now it would help our economy a lot to create manufacturing jobs because our unemployment is 10%. Paul Krugman quantified this by saying that China's exchange rate policy amounts to 1.4 million lost jobs in the U.S. [nytimes.com] The people at the federal reserve and the treasury know this. Ben Bernake himself has been quoted as saying chaiman-speak equivalent for the Chinese are playing with fire [ft.com].

        The conclusion here is that I suspect that if Clinton is mentioning this, the administration is planning on using this as leverage to get economic or other concessions out of the Chinese.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Nothing is done about the currency manipulation because a lot of profits go to American corporations. Even if it were stopped, it's unlikely that those manufacturing jobs would come back, because it's pretty hard to beat a centralized socialist economy when it comes to mass production using low-skilled labor. A lot of factories have also moved to cheaper third-world countries, and Americans will never be able to compete with people who work for a bowl of rice.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:49PM (#30755020)
          Warning: Conspiracy Theory

          This is why I would not be surprised if the current US economic situation is intentional. China's economic actions (trade, currency, debt) have long irritated US elite. Knowing that China is our next economic competitor, I think the US powers that be have been manipulating China all along. We rode the Chinese manufacturing train for as long as could, waited until China was near a tipping point, then intentional manipulated the global markets to cause a huge wave to hit China. An Economic tidal wave. China is currently faking all its major numbers, lying about its market conditions, and printing money hand over fist. China is on the verge of economic collapse.

          http://www.fundmymutualfund.com/2009/10/kyle-bass-hayman-capital-october-letter.html [fundmymutualfund.com]

          "The People's Bank of China (PBoC) expanded Chinese M1 money supply by a staggering 28.7% year-over-year from September 2008 to September 2009."

          "To us, one of the most compelling sets of data points to come out of China is the substantial drop in prices for goods and services (Purchasing Price Index (-11.4% year-over-year), Wholesale Prices (-7.1%), and Producer Price Index (-7.9%)) in an environment where not only money supply, but also credit, investment and "retail"sales are increasing at double-digit percentage rates." This downturn started after the financial collapse last September and has not responded to any of the fiscal and monetary stimulus so far."

          Make no mistake about it. We are at war. An economic war with China, and the ultimate goal is complete domination of the world.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why is the government wasting time with this? Everybody knows what the answer is going to be, the Chinese government is going to deny everything and change nothing.

      That's more or less exactly what happened when the USA got caught using the Echelon system for the exact same purposes as the Chinese are now mounting these attacks. Why is it such a shock that everybody else is repaying the US in kind? Industrial espionage has been going on for millennia, hell, it's almost a tradition. US corporate weasels should just do what the EU corporate weasels did (well some of them... there are always enough people that will never learn) after the Echelon scandals: Stop whining and

      • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:39PM (#30754866)

        That's more or less exactly what happened when the USA got caught using the Echelon system for the exact same purposes as the Chinese are now mounting these attacks.

        So the US was hacking into human rights workers' information in order to find and imprison its own citizens that were speaking up against them? Right.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        yeah, that's _alleged_, except for the case where the NSA outed the fact that France's Airbus was bribing people to secure contracts in violation of their own country's laws and international agreement, sorry about making that public. That must have been embarrassing.

        Repayment in kind implies that China is doing this because we did it to them, but it hasn't been demonstrated anywhere here that China has that much in the way of intellectual property that we've been stealing over the years. To the contrary it

    • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:32PM (#30754776)

      Are you serious? It's politics. It's an official statement by the US Secretary of State claiming the US govt has received evidence from Google and demands an explanation. The Chinese government is VERY conscious about world perception, and their own embarrassment or humiliation, etc. Calling them out like this will force them to respond, and they have learned from several previous International fiascos (SARS, lead, tainted milk, etc) that lying and denying everything when the proof is already out usually just causes lot more harm than good. You are right that they probably will have to deny it (lead paint is one thing, govt sponsored international industrial espionage is another) - but they are going to lose a lot of international credibility in the process.

      This kind of potential leverage in international politics and diplomacy doesn't come along very often, so I hope the US govt keeps up the statements like this to keep the Chinese govt on the defensive!

  • by Bicx ( 1042846 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:06PM (#30753462)
    ... that what began as a simple web search company is now so large that it is capable of potentially altering the course of international diplomacy.
  • Whoa. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mewsenews ( 251487 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:06PM (#30753466) Homepage

    As a tech community, we are always reading articles about Google, computer security, etc. It's surprising to see one of our hot button topics being picked up by the mainstream and becoming an international diplomatic flap. I'm stunned that Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, has waded into the discussion.

  • by DigitalSorceress ( 156609 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:07PM (#30753468)

    They may lose china, but in the eyes of many, "not being evil" is worth more.

    Go Google, make me proud!

    • by characterZer0 ( 138196 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:14PM (#30753556)

      Google is not getting out because they think operating in China was evil, they are getting out because they think operating in China carries excess financial risks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Vintermann ( 400722 )

        Hardly. If any company is competent enough to protect itself from technology-based industrial espionage, it's Google, and whatever financial risks there are don't outweigh the value of the entire Chinese market.

        When they entered China and agreed to censor searches, they said it was in a hope that it would move things in the right direction in China etc. What it seems, that no one expected, was that they actually meant it.

      • by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) * <eric-slashNO@SPAMomnifarious.org> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @07:37PM (#30758236) Homepage Journal

        I've been reading all the 'realpolitik' explanations of Google's behavior, and I think that Google is still fundamentally different from almost any other publicly traded company. I don't think your explanations in terms of shareholder value represent an accurate picture of the internal motivations of Google.

        I think you are more comfortable in a world where such explanations are valid. Companies always operating in their own short term best self interest has been a bedrock of both economic and political thought for at least 20 years, and more likely 90 years. It's scary that a company could become large, powerful and successful without following that formula. And it's scary that there's a large, powerful and successful company that doesn't follow it. It throws off all the rules.

        It reminds me of people who insist on looking for marketing messages in Google doodles. In truth, they happen because there are silly and playful people who work for Google, and their doodles are fun. And that's it. There is no other reason.

        When I read about Google's original motivations for being in China, I took them at face value. Yes, I'm sure the attraction of a big, emerging market played a factor. But I accepted that their decision was fundamentally based on moral values, not financial ones. I, personally, didn't agree with their decision, but I accepted that it was made from examining values other than simply profit.

        And while I think they are upset over being hacked and are angry over the loss of their data, I really do think that the fact that the hackers seemed to be explicitly interested in the accounts of Chinese human rights activists was the biggest factor in their decision to stop censoring.

        If Google seriously felt that China was too much of a threat to be profitable they would just pull out instead of simply removing censorship. Removing censorship is a decision based on morals, not economics.

    • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:17PM (#30753606) Journal

      A lot of people go "They won't do it, China is 1/5th (or 1/6th) of the worlds population!"

      Google can have the other 4/5ths (or 5/6ths). No Internet company started in China will grow outside of China the way they are set up.

      Let them stew in their "secure" system they put in place. Put your efforts elsewhere. When you gain the rest of the world - then China will obey Google, not the other way around.

      • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:51PM (#30754134)
        I think that what you wrote is part of Google's thinking. Another part of it was that Google has a concept of how they run their business. That concept has been successful.
        Censoring their search results was a compromise of their concept, but didn't break it. Google perceived the hacking of their servers by the Chinese government as breaking their business concept. If the Chinese government could not be trusted to keep the "deal" that Google had made with them, then Google can no longer count on the Chinese government honoring any commitment that would allow Google to make money.
        In light of this, I, also, expect that Google expected people to work around the known censoring they were doing to make such censorship moot.
        I think that we must still be suspicious of Google, just as we must be suspicious of any large organization, but in this case, this appears to be an act in good faith.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          > Another part of it was that Google has a concept of how they run their business. That concept has been successful.

          Agree. Google is notoriously ruthless in what they choose to do or not do. They identify areas where they can run absolutely automated IT solutions and do not even try to compete in areas that require heavy investment outside of that. They basically avoid anything that stops their fully automatic money-printing machine from running unattended. I think somewhere at the base of this is

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by chord.wav ( 599850 )

      Can't believe people still fall for the naive "Don't be evil" motto these days.

      Google is a corporation, doing evil or not doing it may apply for people, but corporations are entities that operate way above those simple "good/right" and "bad/wrong" terms. They don't have sentiments, morale or regrets. They follow the economy rules without asking themselves whether something it's right or wrong. And following those rules can make them do horrible things which they'll do without hesitation if there's a buck to

      • Can't believe people still fall for the naive "Don't be evil" motto these days.

        It may shock you, but corporations are made of people, and sometimes, the people that make them up are moved to do ethical things. That Google's actions are newsworthy is a reflection on us, not just an abstraction of the corporation.

        • by copponex ( 13876 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @05:04PM (#30756180) Homepage

          The morality of the market Is easily reflected in Google's stock price. I think this is why Google is still privately controlled instead of at the whim of the shareholders, or as I like to call them, the greedy ancient Court of Douchebags.

          Google Inc. (GOOG, $580.93, -$9.55, -1.62%) said it may leave China after an investigation found the company had been hit with major cyber attacks it believes originated from the country--a move that would amount to one of the highest-profile rebukes yet of China by a major U.S. firm. The talk tossed China's Internet economy into turmoil, and sent Chinese search company Baidu ($431.67, +$45.18, +11.69%) soaring. Deutsche Bank upgraded the company to buy from hold saying Google threat is likely a plus for Baidu no matter how it shakes out. Other Chinese Internet firms also rose, including Sohu.com Inc. (SOHU, $58.98, +$0.85, +1.46%) and Sina Corp. (SINA, $44.87, +$0.30, +0.67%).

          http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20100113-708147.html?mod=WSJ_World_MIDDLEHeadlinesEurope [wsj.com]

  • It's about time. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bigredradio ( 631970 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:12PM (#30753530) Homepage Journal
    Everybody seems to walk on egg shells as to not cause friction with China because of the "possible" loss of customers they get access to. I applaud Google for this. Just because China has 1.3 billion people does not make them all good customers. I know a lot of software developers who would rather stay out of China because after the first license is sold, it's pirated and re-distributed by their competitors. So my point, why compromise your ethics for a hostile business environment that might lead to further problems and minimal increase in the balance sheets. Way to go Google!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kenp2002 ( 545495 )

      They walk on egg shells because China is the largest nuclear threat since the USSR was around and from a measure of hostility communism has killed more then 100 million people since it's incept. Between Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, Castro, and countless others they are giving religion a run for it's money for "killing in the name of"

      Keeping the dragon fat and sleepy so it doesn't wake up sounds more a likely scenario...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by evilviper ( 135110 )

        They walk on egg shells because China is the largest nuclear threat since the USSR

        China has been a nuclear threat for several decades, and nobody has cared to do business with them until now. Though they're making noise, NOBODY in their right mind believes they are going to take an aggressive military stance against any other countries... LEAST of all the USA.

        Yes, China is the most well nuclear-armed country behind Russia, but we're talking about a HUGE drop-off there... Ditto for their non-nuclear milit

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )

          Ya I'm not sure why people think that China having nuclear weapons means they are a massive threat. To use them for no good reason, they'd have to be crazy. I mean that fairly literally. Yes, China has a few ICBMs. They could cause a large amount of damage and death in some major US cities, assuming they didn't get shot down (just because the US doesn't have dedicated ABM technology, doesn't mean they wouldn't have all their things like Aegis cruisers try to shoot down the missiles). However, the US has eno

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:12PM (#30753532)

    That's because they apparently were able to access a system used to help Google comply with search warrants by providing data on Google users, said a source familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the press.

    See why leaving back doors open for law enforcement and other Government organizations actually decreases our security?

    See why "if you do nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about" is complete utter non-sense?

    By making the government's job easier, they've opened up the door to malicious attacks by foreign governments.

    The FBI (the whole Executive branch for that matter) and Congress should be ashamed of themselves for their stupidity in ordering such back doors.

    The only fear I have for my security is the idiocy of the US Government in "protecting" me.


    • by andy1307 ( 656570 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:32PM (#30753826)
      According TFA, this is an internal system. No different from a log file. How is this a backdoor? Can the law enforcement agencies access it from the outside?
      • by DeadPixels ( 1391907 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:51PM (#30754128)
        TFA doesn't say, but one of the links in the summary says that it was accessible from compromised machines in Google offices.

        That's because they apparently were able to access a system used to help Google comply with search warrants by providing data on Google users, said a source familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the press. "Right before Christmas, it was, 'Holy s***, this malware is accessing the internal intercept [systems],'" he said.

        What I find interesting is that Google apparently hacked them back:

        Google's security team eventually managed to gain access to a server that was used to control the hacked systems

        Personally, I'd be interested in knowing what the Google team did to turn the tables, even if it's a few months or years down the line after this incident is over.

      • by professorguy ( 1108737 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:04PM (#30754296)
        This is a backdoor because the obvious way to store search data is to aggregate it immediately and delete the source. Which is what any sane engineer would do.

        Enter the cops: Don't delete that data, I might want to spy on someone. What do you mean China is using that data to spy on someone? How dare they!

        And that's why it's a back door.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:16PM (#30753582)

    China is not a powerhouse.
    It is growing rapidly but it is a nightmare police state joke.
    When the demographic collapse hits all the "miracle" dreams about China will fade.
    Their population is ageing rapidly, they have an imbalance of women to men and they have huge internal problems.

    • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:51PM (#30754114)

      Indeed it's true. I see many people talk of fearing China, but the reality is it simply doesn't have the military equipment to fight far from it's shores, it doesn't have the stability to guarantee that if it does send it's soldiers outside it's borders that it wont lose territory to dissidents inside it's borders. Contrary to popular belief it doesn't have that much support from Russia, partly because it's still locked in border disputes with them, the same goes for it's other neighbours in almost every direction who would love the opportunity of China spreading itself to far to claim territory they believe is their own.

      Economically it could certainly be a problem, but in terms of us losing it's manufacturing facility the likes of India which is of a similar population would gladly pick up the slack, and in the current weakened economic situation in fact, most countries would be willing to take on a big manufacturing boost.

      That's not to say they couldn't be a problem at all of course, if they backed up North Korea by having North Korea threaten further to launch nukes whilst providing them military support to try and wave of the US and such from attacking it in response to such threats it'd be a big deal. Similarly any war with them would still be a hell of a headache, but the point to take away is this, no matter what China does, even if in the worst case they decide to pursue a military route, whilst they'd cause a lot of harm and damage, they'd have absolutely no chance of winning. Even their nuclear stockpile is relatively small, particularly when you take into account modern American ICBM defences.

      In a way though it's a real shame, because China has so many smart people, it has such potential to be a thriving peaceful modern nation. It's perhaps ironic that the lust for power and control at the top of China is exactly what stops China from becoming a more powerful player on the international stage. It has a big population, but it can't unilaterally take on the world despite seeming to believe otherwise.

      • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @04:21PM (#30755496)

        Basically, any nation that starts a nuclear war against either the USA or Russia, without being able to win a decisive victory, loses everything. If they manage to destroy say, 30, 40, or even 50% of either superpower's population and assets, they just provide the justification for an absolutely overwhelming retaliatory strike.

              Remember US history for the 1940's. The US declares war on Japan, with an immediate demand for unconditional surrender, and publicly announces that this is the only thing they will accept. The War declaration in Congress makes this a binding matter on the executive branch, that the US will not accept a conditional surrender except by direct order of the President.
            The following are a few of the publicly expressed remarks of the time, generally approved by the majority of Americans listening:

              "By the time we're through with them, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell."

              "I hate Japs! I'm telling you men, that if I met a pregnant Japanese woman, I'd kick her in the belly!"

                                                  Both by Fleet Admiral William "Bull" Halsey

        You'll note that Halsey is quite clearly talking Genocide as an acceptable response. He got promoted after that.

                During the 70's the Soviet Union conducted top level strategic simulations exercises (sit around a table style war games scenarios) with its general staff. One of the noted outcomes of those was that, whenever scenario casualties exceeded the roughly 20 million from WW2, someone on the staff spotted and mentioned that fact, and commanding generals and admirals almost invariably swiftly urged the politbureau to immediately allow retrofitting of cobalt jackets on nuclear devices and permission to deploy them specifically against civilian population centers, or the release of weaponized smallpox or anthrax to the front lines for field artillary use, or other such acts. The Soviet Union's analysis was that, in a real war, once casualties reached about 20 million, there was a better than 50-50 chance command would stage a coup if civilian authorities didn't approve all the most extreme measures in the Soviet arsenal, and an even higher likelihood they would give orders to totally exterminate the enemy population bases with them if they got the means to do so. Whether they would have been so determined to take it into runaway mode in a real war is, of course, speculative, but there's certainly at least some chance.


    • by ElectricTurtle ( 1171201 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:45PM (#30754938)
      Yeah, I'm sure China will be as damaged by their 'collapse' as we have been by ours.

      China is a powerhouse whether you like it or not. China has been the cultural, political, and economic epicenter of the largest continent on earth for the better part of five thousand years. Almost every society near China is directly derivative of Chinese society. China contains nearly 20% of the world's entire population. They will be second only to the US in GDP very shortly. China is second only to the US in military expenditures, and has nearly 1 million more active duty military personnel than the US (sobering considering that the US could not defeat China in any of the proxy wars it has fought in Asia). Ask the Germans or the French how well technological superiority works against vast numbers and huge territory in a conventional war. And while I'm not one of the nutjobs who think war with China is around the corner, if their economic growth falters and it destabilizes their society, they may change their approach to a more aggressive one regionally to rally nationalism, perhaps even to the point of provoking a war with India over Arunchal Pradesh or trying to absorb Taiwan.

      China is a police state, even a nightmare, but if you think China is a joke you might find that the punchline is not so funny.
  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd DOT bandrowsky AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:19PM (#30753636) Homepage Journal

    This is going to go down as the biggest piece of corporate "do-gooding" since Henry Ford did the $5 day. I can't even begin to calculate how much Google went up in my mind for doing this. They may have lost a bunch of potential customers, but for what its worth, they've just got me for life.

    Whatever their motives, Google did the right thing, and in a big way. I didn't see Microsoft stepping up to the plate like that, Apple didn't step up to the plate like that, and I'll remember that when I choose platforms.

    • by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:51PM (#30754116)

      As others have mentioned, Google didn't do this because it's the good thing to do. They did this because it makes good business sense. If it had been financially advantageous to remain in China and even court their government more closely Google would have done that instead.

      I'm really tired of people casting corporations in such simple-minded light. Corporations exist to make money, and usually do so within the boundaries of the law. The people running these companies certainly may hold a particular set of morals, but ultimately they have to make decisions based on what's best for the company.

      I think the important thing here is that China isn't nearly as important as Americans seem to believe, especially in the business world. Business idiots, in particular, seem to have a hard-on for China, despite the fact that they get burned time and time again. It's true that China has a massive population, but how many of those actually have disposable income? And of those who do have money to spend, how many of those have the money or inclination to spend on foreign goods as opposed to what's made by Chinese companies?

      The advantage China enjoys over many other developing nations is that they're far further along in their economic development and are approaching a developed nation status. And that's assuming their economic growth isn't over-inflated as many are beginning to suspect. Certainly the Chinese are very nationalistic and ambitious, but that's really only advantageous for themselves and not the rest of the world. There are many other nations around the world seeing significant growth which have the chance to become very strong competitors for China, there's India, much of southeast Asia, South America, especially Brazil.

      When it comes down to it, China needs the rest of the world far more than the rest of the world needs China. Five or ten years ago I suspect Google's management would have decided staying in China was worth the risk. Today, that's obviously not the case.

      And there's something else to consider, some companies are more entrenched than others and some have more to lose in China. it's probably a lot easier to successfully knock off Google's products than it is Apple's or Microsoft's. There are dozens, of search engines, hundreds if not thousands of web apps and countless social networking sites. And there's a lot less loyalty to any particular tool than you find in the West. Something new comes along and as long as it's halfway decent people start using it. As quickly as companies fail there are many more right behind ready to take their place. All this is, without question, hurting Google's chances in China. There's no reason for Chinese to use Google, but there is certainly a lot of incentive for Chinese companies to steal what they can. And the Chinese government sure as hell isn't going to enforce foreign copyrights.

  • A not all that reliable source has suggested that stealing emails in the UK may have been done by China as well: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1238638/Chinese-hackers-linked-Warmergate-climate-change-leaked-emails-controversy.html [dailymail.co.uk]
  • by farble1670 ( 803356 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:23PM (#30753678)
    a little suspicious that they release this right after all the bad press about nexus one customer support, hmmm?
    • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:57PM (#30754190)

      No, not really.

      I can't think why anyone would think that making such an international drama and giving up $600m in annual profit would be worth doing just to distract attention from the fact a handful of people are whining about getting the phone to use 3G instead of 2G in some areas on the Nexus One.

      What next? Microsoft purchases a nuclear missile and launches it at Russia to distract everyone from the fact no one is buying the Zune?

      • by VoxMagis ( 1036530 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @07:11PM (#30757834)

        No, not really.

        I can't think why anyone would think that making such an international drama and giving up $600m in annual profit would be worth doing just to distract attention from the fact a handful of people are whining about getting the phone to use 3G instead of 2G in some areas on the Nexus One.

        What next? Microsoft purchases a nuclear missile and launches it at Russia to distract everyone from the fact no one is buying the Zune?

        Don't give them IDEAS!

  • The Borg (Score:5, Insightful)

    by m0s3m8n ( 1335861 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:34PM (#30753848)
    The Chinese are all about assimilation of technology. And most companies are happy to help. Boeing, you want to sell us planes, then you have to build some components here. Bring in your fancy machine tools and expertize.
    • Re:The Borg (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lennier ( 44736 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @07:21PM (#30757952) Homepage

      "The Chinese are all about assimilation of technology. "

      Yes. And this is Slashdot, a website which is generally in favour of people assimilating, reverse engineering, decrypting, hacking, cracking, opening, jailbreaking, repurposing, learning, making, rebuilding, customising and sharing technology. We believe in the right to read, the right to copy, Stallman's Four Freedoms, that technology should be owned, not licenced, that DRM is evil because it blocks a user's ability to control their own technological destiny, that software patents stifle innovation, that copyright and region coding keeps media prices artificially high, that censorship is an intrinsic evil, that business models must perpetually innovate, that nobody owes buggy whip makers a living, etc.

      We believe that We The People Have The Right to learn stuff, copy stuff, and share stuff, and that technology is only safe when the user is in the driving seat.

      Oh... but suddenly all that is bad if CHINA does it? Eek! Scary Asian people stealing our freedom (to control them).

      I say, let China assimilate all they want. The bigger problem here is US corporations who think they have the moral right and practical ability to *stop* other countries sharing technological information - and then foolishly built business models on that foundation of sand.

      Sell stuff to China if you choose to. Don't sell stuff to China if you choose to. Just don't expect them to 'respect' your crazy ideas that information is property, which it isn't. I mean, this is Slashdot - we know that, right? We read Lawrence Lessig and Cory Doctorow, we put Creative Commons on our photos and GPL on our code, we know that information *should* be copied because that's its strength... right?

      Don't try to 'sell' your secrets to China with one hand while trying to grab them back with the other, because that's like posting your drunk party photos on Facebook then saying 'but I didn't mean for the world to see me naked!'

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:08PM (#30754342) Journal

    Unless I'm actually in the business of trading with the Chinese, can anybody give me one good reason not to drop all traffic from their IPs right at the router?

    I don't think I'd miss anything from there except spam. I bet many Fortune 500 companies wouldn't either, and if they had a business unit that needed to communicate with China, they could set up a special link for that. The rest of your network doesn't need access.

    It's kind of a step backwards to have to think about national borders on the 'net; but if they're going to behave this way, that has a cost. We'll just go back to a "placing a call there requires some extra code and expense" mentality.

  • by kilodelta ( 843627 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:11PM (#30754388) Homepage
    Back in 2001 I was working for state government. Our web site was defaced and I started tracing the sources through our border routers, etc. It resolved back to China.

    So I did what any sane administrator in government would do, I just blotted out the known IP ranges from China.
  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:14PM (#30754444) Homepage Journal

    ... they can do whatever the hell they want.

    "Google's decision Tuesday to risk walking away from China (Um, the world's largest Internet market)..."

    They're not REQUIRED to do business with anyone. Some customers are just too much of a pain in the ass to be worth it. Imagine you own a store and there's an item you buy for $5 and sell for $10. If someone comes in and offers you $9 for it, would you sell? Sure, why not, it's still pretty good. How about $8? $7? $6? $5.50? $5.25? $5.05? $5.01? At what point do you tell them "Piss off, you're wasting my time"? I personally would much rather deal with a thousand nice well-off customers than a million pain-in-the-ass cheapskates.* Seems to be working pretty well for Apple too. :-)

    So same thing here. If Google doesn't feel like dealing with China's BS, they don't have to. Let someone else try to make a buck off that headache.

    * disclaimer: before anyone gets their panties in a knot, I'm not saying rich people are nice and poor people aren't. I'm talking about CHEAPNESS here--someone who has nothing better to do with their time than argue over every nickel versus someone who's content to pay a fair price. Cheapness** is why the US is so beholden to China right now. See also Schmatta. [blowbackproductions.com]

    ** and a few other things

  • by Shompol ( 1690084 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @04:07PM (#30755286)
    Where Chinese government has to hack their way in, US govt agents simply show up and asks for disclosure. I don't think they even need a warrant for that.
    In what ways are Communists more evil?

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky