By Herman Tiu Laurel

The way to global data security – China Style

September 15, 2020, 3:54 pm

THE US is in the habit of hurling accusations in China without providing any evidence to back up the allegations. They did this with the “China virus” claim with nary a scientific basis to stand it on. Incessantly, they have repeated allegation of “intellectual property theft” against China but never filed a case in the WTO on it.

Recently, the US has been hammering on a “data security breach” involving Huawei, Tik-Tok, and other Chinese tech companies; again, these are totally bereft of any proof and only meant to provoke discriminatory and punitive actions. The US has been breathing down the necks of “allies” to stop dealing with Chinese tech companies even if they cannot find proof of any wrongdoing.

Clearly, this seems to be the American style of doing things – accuse, accuse, accuse without any intention of resolving the issues one way or the other by providing a solution. T Obviously, this is not the Chinese way of doing things with its international friends and partners as evidenced by China’s track record.

In China’s decades of dealing with the rest of the world, it always seeks to create harmony and produce Win-Win happy endings. China’s multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road initiative (BRI) are good examples. To continue growth China is helping countries to up their capacity to trade, instead of the economic imperialism of the West.

In the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, China quickly went to work in helping other countries, declaring its vaccine as a “global public good” and prioritizing poorer countries in the distribution of the vaccine when it becomes ready. This is unlike the US and some other countries that are hard at work blaming their peers, even as China has already engaged ASEAN for post-COVID-19 economic recovery planning.

China has come up with a plan to address the global data security issue that the U.S. has been harping about and using as a weapon against rising Chinese technology companies. This situation adversely affects global technology development not only by China but the whole world as well, forcing some countries to go for Western technology even if the latter is much more expensive.

Expense is not the only issue for countries under the tutelage of America, like Australia who seems to follow every instruction of the US these days, and might be forced to adopt U.S. technology and suffer.

As reported in the September 9, 2020 edition of PC Magazine, “AT&T’s current 5G slower than 4G in nearly every city tested by PCMag.” This is the American way now?

In contrast, China has found, in typical Chinese fashion, the constructive, positive, and progressive approach to solving the dilemma that US weaponization of the data security threat issue has created.

In the second week of September 2020, China launched its initiative to get the nations of the world to agree on the rules to govern the conduct of global data security. According to Xinhua news, the formal announcement of the initiative called the “Global Initiative on Data Security” is scheduled for September 14, 2020.

Under this initiative, all countries will be called on to handle data security in a “comprehensive, objective, and evidence-based manner.”

The initiative urges countries to oppose “mass surveillance against other states” and calls on tech companies not to install “backdoors in their products and services to illegally obtain users’ data, and control or manipulate users’ systems and devices.”

The country that will have real problems in fulfilling the basic commitments of the “Global Initiative on Data Security” in the US, which has a proven record of decades of conducting national and global mass surveillance. Since 2001, US surveillance has been undertaken by the US National Security Agency (NSA) under the US-984XN project of PRISM (Planning Tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization, and Management).

As an American site reported, “PRISM is a tool used by the US National Security Agency (NSA) to collect private electronic data belonging to users of major internet services like Gmail, Facebook, Outlook, and others. It’s the latest evolution of the US government’s post-9/11 electronic surveillance efforts...”

PRISM was publicly exposed when classified information on the program was leaked to the Washington Post and the Guardian by Edward Snowden during a “visit” to Hong Kong. Wikileaks later expanded the exposé, which led to the US persecution of Julian Assange of Wikileaks in 2010.

Assange is now in detention awaiting extradition to the US, while Snowden is a refugee in Russia.

The NSA has also been keeping tabs on all world leaders of significance to US interests and hegemonic concerns. Evidence of this is the 2013 complaint of German authorities regarding “credible evidence of US monitoring of Chancellor Angel Merkel’s personal cellular phone. Merkel called President Barack Obama to protest the surveillance on her.

Previously, China had never been accused of conducting mass surveillance operations outside its borders. This changed in 2017, when the US declared the former as a “strategic competitor” and took upon itself the mission of putting China on trial and declaring it e guilty – by global mainstream media publicity –as a perpetrator of “data security breach” and “maintaining backdoors” in the electronic equipment that it supplies, charges that no country to date has produced any supporting evidence.

While the Philippines has had no data security issues with China, this has always been a problem with the US. Even in the olden times prior to computers and Internet technology, data security was already a problem with the US as evidenced by several books and the memos of Philippine presidents, such as Diosdado Macapagal, to the CIA station chief in the Philippines.

Even today, we have hundreds, if not thousands, of Amboys (Merian boys), termites in the political, private business, and military bureaucracies of the country.  In the Navy, for example, there are characters like retired Flag Officer in Command Alexander P. Pama who has volunteered to be the “whistleblower” about the imagined threat of the Chinese takeover of Subic which never was.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has been decisive in trying to wean the country away from the US while striking a balance with China that will enable the Philippines to achieve full sovereignty and independence of the country. However, as we can see every day in the media, there are still too many Amboys barking for the US and its obstructionist plots in the Philippines.

Fortunately, whatever the US does in the world and whatever its Amboys do in the Philippines, Chinese leadership in the information and technology field as primus inter-pares with other countries will continue to accentuate and enhance global participation and progress.

The latest initiative to set the basic rules for global data security and protection for all nations is merely the latest example of this Chinese leadership.



About the Columnist

Image of Herman Tiu Laurel

Herman Tiu Laurel is a veteran journalist and founder of think tank PHILIPPINE-BRICS Strategic Studies.