If you spilled your morning coffee last week when you read that the Chinese army is behind the cyberattacks on US businesses, then we need to talk.
It may have raised eyebrows that the Chinese military was called out so publicly — so much so that they quickly denied any involvement. But that the Chinese are hacking North American (and other countries') networks should surprise no one, especially in the electronics industry.
We're all doing it, as Bruce Gain offers in his interesting perspective on cyberwarfare from his perch in Europe (America’s Declared (& Undeclared) Cyberwar).
Indeed, it's pretty much expected these days. We accept that it's a new form of espionage and warfare, but at the same time, in the west, we still rail against IP theft. But that's our perspective, our culture.
Stealing or innovation?
What if IP theft is not theft at all but a culturally acceptable form of innovation?
A lot of people argue that's the case with China, as Mike Bellamy did in this blog post about his China college days.
Recently, I met with an electronics executive, an old China hand, who said of working years ago in the Middle Kingdom, “They copied whatever they could copy.”
The executive described it in this way: The relationship between colleagues can be almost familial, and in this sense, the sharing of information and assets is almost an obligation.
Said the executive:
They don't understand the concept of building an intellectual property portfolio and licensing it for money. They have a different way of looking at life. You're not breaching confidentiality… it's not like you're stealing.
They are brilliant people who are really strong engineers. They don't find it too difficult to copy something if they can get the information at that level. That's why you give them a lot of the architecture but keep hiding the really smart stuff that makes it work.
A third of EBN audience traffic comes from China alone, so I invite our Chinese readers to comment on this.
Please let us know whether this assessment is accurate or not.