Wednesday, December 28, 2011, 12/28/2011 10:16:00 AM

"China Threat?" - Columnist Claims Western Stereotyping of China is Unfair But Predictable

By Todd


China.org.cn columnist Geoffrey Murray has made an interesting argument - that China is being stereotyped in the West as a nation of intellectual property thieves in a continuing campaign of misinformation and stereotyping going back over 150 years.

He writes: "The 'China Threat' is frequently evoked by others regarding its insatiable appetite for foreign investment, and when it has gone onto the world market to purchase large amounts of wheat to offset domestic shortages and, again, with its huge imports of crude oil, iron ore and other crucial minerals. Every time the West considers the challenge of modern China, the message tends to echo the basic theme begun two centuries ago. It brings to mind the old saying that there is 'nothing new under the sun.'"

Mr. Murray makes an interesting argument that the West continues to demonize China and its economic apirations as it always has historically. But there's a counter-argument and it was made and published in October 2011 by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive here: http://www.odni.gov/reports/20111103_report_fecie.pdf. The report suggests as follows: "China’s intelligence services, as well as private companies and other entities, frequently seek to exploit Chinese citizens or persons with family ties to China who can use their insider access to corporate networks to steal trade secrets using removable media devices or e-mail. Of the seven cases that were adjudicated under the Economic Espionage Act— both Title 18 USC § 1831 and § 1832—in Fiscal Year 2010, six involved a link to China. US corporations and cyber security specialists also have reported an onslaught of computer network intrusions originating from Internet Protocol (IP) addresses in China, which private sector specialists call “advanced persistent threats.” Some of these reports have alleged a Chinese corporate or government sponsor of the activity, but the IC has not been able to attribute many of these private sector data breaches to a state sponsor. Attribution is especially difficult when the event occurs weeks or months before the victims request IC or law enforcement help."

We've operated this blog since March of 2006 and in the close to five years that we've covered Economic Espionage Act prosecutions, we've noted that a noticeably large number involve former or existing Chinese citizens - including, ironically, older workers over the age of 40. Perhaps those data thieves' Chinese heritage is unimportant or unrelated to their crimes - but the ubiquity of Chinese nationals ending up in our economic espionage criminal system is still an undeniable fact. We welcome Mr. Murray's analysis of the data with or for us - and his explanation of whether "Project 863" is a myth perpetrated by the West or a state-financed program of catching up with the rest of the organized world's technologies. See, e.g., http://www.edu.cn/achievement_1509/20060323/t20060323_4403.shtml.

One of the things history has taught the co-authors of this blog, as trade secret litigators, is that the fastest, cheapest and most efficient way to match and surpass rivals' technological superiority is first to obtain, copy and then deconstruct it. To compete with and beat your rival, you first have to study his playbook. Our government's cybercrime watchdogs confirm our sneaking suspicions that there is something different about China's role in the race for competitive advantages generated by the control of trade secret information. We admit to not being certain why Chinese nationals seem to find themselves prosecuted for these economic espionage crimes at such high rates - but we hypothesize that "Project 863" has some causal relation or nexus to the data.

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