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Huawei Accused of Technology Theft (npr.org)
314 points by tooltalk 17 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 212 comments

It's well known in the telecom/internet infrastructure business that Huawei:

a) bugged the hell out of Nortel's ottawa area offices, both physically, by rootkit, and by getting their own people hired to physically smuggle out documents and design data

b) Copied the entire DWDM / optical transport product line

c) Released a nearly identical product a few years later, and sold it at a ridiculously low price, effectively killing Nortel.

Many years later the vacant ex-Nortel office buildings came up for lease. One of the candidate tenants for that large of an office space were parts of the Canadian federal government, ministry of defence, etc. Every serious tenant passed on the space because it's so riddled with bugs.




>So what happened? Were listening devices found at the Nortel Campus or not?

The Department of National Defence keeps changing its story on that issue.

>But after the Citizen article was published, Julie Di Mambro, spokeswoman for then Conservative Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, noted in a statement that, “security officials have assured us that they have not discovered any bugs or listening devices.”

The first article seems to heavily imply that there is no definite conclusion to this matter.

Note that it is possible that for political or national security reasons they decided not to provide a public statement for the matter. I've seen a news story reporting similarly about espionage victims unwilling to go public on the matter due to lack of benefit on it, though I don't think I can find it now.

If they did hide that information (which is still a big if) then they exposed many Canadian businesses to potential risky relationships with Huawei.

If people just went public with this earlier we could have ended the "Huawei isn't hacking people and stealing their data" charade. Everyone get's to act so outraged publicly today but that Nortel case started in the early 2000s:

> An internal security study by Nortel suggested that hackers had also been able to download research and development studies and business plans as far back as 2000.

It's good enough for intel agencies to quietly warn the big businesses when it's seems 'necessary' which seems like the new modus operandi, at least in the US.

None of the provided links as much as mentions Huawei or provides anything but uncertainty that there were any bugging devices found at the Nortel offices.

You would have to be familiar with the technical details of DWDM platform system architecture, photonics, etc in order to grok a full explanation. The Huawei product released was identical. It was identical down to the ASICs on the individual linecards and other things that would have been impossible to reverse engineer in a "Clean room" environment. I know I'm not providing a citation here, but among the community of ISPs and backbone carriers that actually have a need for this sort of equipment, it's a known fact as solidly as "water is wet".




If it was patented, why didn't the company sue Huawei and ban import of the product?

Why is this downvoted? Industrial spying is punished in the west.

Political forces you don't fully understand prevented it.

A WTO case would have been easier.

> Political forces you don't fully understand

This is exactly as useful and trustworthy as saying "A wizard did it".

Can confirm this from another source. Old guy I met waiting for a flight in Vegas; he was on his way back from CES. Had run his own ISP a while back for a special purpose. Talked about this, Huawei's refusal to remove a back-door ("remote assistance and diagnosis feature" or some such malarkey), etc. They're not nice guys.

But Huawei is not different from other vendors here. For example: Windows has telemetry that cannot be disabled and sends data into American data centers, Apple has control over its phones around the world, can remotely block them and know their location, and who knows what else, Google tries to convince users from around the world to store all their data in an American cloud (not their own cloud, or a cloud in their country they can trust, but the cloud in US), and almost every Intel CPU has an additional CPU (ME engine) that has full control over the system, with encrypted firmware, and is not documented.

Yet I don't see any accusations against Microsoft, Apple, Android or Intel.

Maybe because I trust those organizations (and even the American government) more the China as much as I hate to admit it.

I don’t think you can really compare the companies.

I on the other hand, don't think China has the extrajudicial reach of the U.S. (yet?) & as an EU citizen I don't trust either the U.S., nor China, but I think my own government would not bow down to Chinese pressure, (i.e. to hand over info about me etc.), as they regularly do to American one, certainly not as easily.

I don't think Kim Dotcom would have a military style raid on his house in NZ done on behalf of the Chinese government.

I think he would. Look how the EU/NZ is not helping Taiwan - in order to not offend China. It is a shame.

> I don't think Kim Dotcom would have a military style raid on his house in NZ done on behalf of the Chinese government.

perhaps not, but in Thailand, yes.



Plenty of us would rather trust China than the US, mostly because China has less influence in our countries than the US does.

I really don't get this POV. If it was just about a random Chinese company, sure, whatever, but Huawei though is 99% likely passing to the Chinese state, which is a geo-political entity that has more than a passing resemblance to some Hitler/Mao/Stalin hybrid that is fairly terrifying.

It is rapidly scaling its military technology and reach, threatening neighbors over competing claims in the South China Sea, re-creating its own version of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere via the Belt and Road initiative and China 2025, interning its own citizens by the millions into re-education camps, forcing spying by its own citizens overseas by threatening family members, introducing a 'social credit' system to force not only self-censorship, but active promotion of its policies by its citizenry in order to not lose 'privileges' like taking the train.

I understand that the Trumpian version of the US is annoying in many ways, but the idea that we let China and Chinese companies dominated by it's government (they literally have to pay Party minders to keep them in line) have unconstrained access to its geopolitical foes infrastructure beggars belief.

The US have been the instigator in quite a number of wars of aggression, with devastating consequences for the countries targeted and the people living in them. They constantly threaten to start new attacks. Meanwhile China builds roads and bridges and trains and cheap electronics. Is it really that hard to see why one is preferred over the other?

Noting that you didn't actually rebut any point I made...

You “really don’t get this POV”, and ephemeralism expanded on the POV you don’t get. Not to mention quite a few points of yours are heavily pushed narratives by the Western media based on thin or exaggerated evidence, when Western media are clearly not neutral on Chinese matter. Funny how you mentioned China “threatening” neighbors, and ephemeralism pointed out that the U.S. has started numerous wars (and bankrolled more), with boots on the ground.

Because those companies have never released stolen material from offices they bugged.

Microsoft's telemetry data is like sending the teacher a note that you viewed the material. Huawei hides a camera in your home steals your homework and beats you out of that college placement with your own material.

Why doesn't Microsoft allow to disable it then? It is not like I asked for a teacher.

Because that's the product they are selling you decided to use it over an os that comes with the source code like Linux.

Microsoft hasn't added telemetry to linux through a backdoor.

And neither did Huawei.

There were some stories where Huawei's source code included the Nortel copyright at the top. Just 100% blatant.

Not doubting you but it would be great to link to one/several of those stories.

A quick google search turns up a CBC article from 2012 where a former Nortel exec alleges Huawei hacking, and also, amusingly, this HN story.

It's fair to say that, in 2019, Huawei scale money can buy you online reputation...including removal of any documented instances that might hurt its image. After all, Google was their partner for a good amount of time.

MSFT was a giant but was not able to hide the Halloween documents, I don't see why Huawei would succeed in that.

You're talking about a company whose majority ownership is some sort of murky "employee coop without voting rights."

The modern Chinese legal system isn't nearly as predicable as other jurisdictions.

well, but the chinese legal system is not the issue here, we're talking about silencing media reporting on a scandal of sorts, outside of china.

All external reporting begins with a seed, and that seed plays very different in a closed society without free speech protection.

can i see the code?

> Released a nearly identical product a few years later, and sold it at a ridiculously low price,

If it violates the patents, then why did the company not sue Huawei and get a compensation? If it doesn't violate the patents then what's the problem?

What's wrong with Matebook? It has the same color, a similar shape, and a similar keyboard as a Macbook? If Apple feels that it violates their patents, why don't they sue? US patent laws are pretty strict and this is the normal way to resolve such cases.

Also if you Google a bit, you can see that there are similar lawsuits against US companies. For example, a Korean company believes (and had win in courts in some countries) that Apple has stolen their intellectual property: [1]

Also it is noteworthy how some countries' courts agree that Apple has infringed the patents while other countries' courts disagree.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Inc._v._Samsung_Electron....

Yeah you can always be inspired by others. https://wx2.sinaimg.cn/large/9196f7a9gy1g08e99znw9j20u01s612...

Also I wanted to note that the image you linked to compares an iPhone's ads with Xiaomi's (if I am correct) and the image doesn't mention Huawei.

Interesting comparison. But Apple doesn't have clean hands too. Did they invent graphical UI of first Macintosh themselves or were "inspired" by what they have seen at Xerox PARC? Yesterday you copied the GUI, and today you claim that someone has stolen the idea of using rounded edges.

Apple paid Xerox Parc a lot to see things, not to mention xerox parc was heavily invested in pre IPO Apple.

>If it doesn't violate the patents then what's the problem?

Theft of trade secrets is a crime.

But, I mean, other than that, what do you have on them?

Funny, because the articles OP posted suggest they don’t even have that.

The article by the wsj seems to be more than sufficient.

Interesting - in silicon valley Huawei has a building just a short distance from both Intel and Nvidia's main headquarters.

They had an office next to Apple and Amazon and Seagate in Cupertino as well.

This could just mean they want to reinforce their brand by being next to the big guys. Doesn't mean they are spying even if that is a possibility.

They might also want to poach employees, being close to where they work already is a good way to do that.

Possibly true, but these are tactics any tech company could use. Not illegal. Snooping on competitor communications is a different story though.

> It's well known in the telecom/internet infrastructure business that Huawei:

> a) bugged the hell out of Nortel's ottawa area offices, both physically, by rootkit, and by getting their own people hired to physically smuggle out documents and design data

The links you provide do not mention Huawei.

> b) Copied the entire DWDM / optical transport product line

> c) Released a nearly identical product a few years later, and sold it at a ridiculously low price, effectively killing Nortel.

Why is this two bullet points? It's the same issue, no? The links you provide are not related to this issue. Could you provide proof or evidence of some kind to back up your claims?

> Many years later the vacant ex-Nortel office buildings came up for lease. One of the candidate tenants for that large of an office space were parts of the Canadian federal government, ministry of defence, etc. Every serious tenant passed on the space because it's so riddled with bugs.

bugged the hell out, riddled with bugs

« But after the Citizen article was published, Julie Di Mambro, spokeswoman for then Conservative Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, noted in a statement that, “security officials have assured us that they have not discovered any bugs or listening devices.” »

« Again, a DND official dismissed concerns that listening devices could be hidden in the sprawling complex, noting that none had ever been found. »

« Five days later in another statement to the Citizen – and contrary to what Norman had said earlier – the DND was once again claiming that no bugs, surveillance equipment or listening devices had ever been found. »


So to sum up … You have made two (though you made it look like three) claims of criminal activity by a specific Chinese company. You provide three links giving the appearance of supporting your claims. After following the links I discover that the links only address your first claim and direct quoutes from government officials counter the narrative of suspicions in the article. Not only that, the company your are making the claims against is not mentioned in any of the articles. When I Google huawei DWDM / optical transport product line to try to find proof or evidence for your second claim the only allegation I find is your post on HN. Your first claim makes three separate allegations: (1) bugged the hell out of Nortel's ottawa area offices, both physically, (2) by rootkit, (3) and by getting their own people hired to physically smuggle out documents and design data. The article only talks about the suspicion of "legacy bit and pieces" meaning (1) but no mention of rootkits (2) and nothing about planting moles (3).

Come to think of it you're really only making one claim – that Huawei engaged in industrial espionage against Nortel to such a degree that they put Nortel out of business. And nothing in the links you provide substantiate that claim.

Where is your proof or evidence that Huawei directly put Nortel out of business by engaging in industrial espionage?

What a bunch of pure bullshit.

1. None of those links provide anything like evidence or support of your accusations.

2. It's absolutely remarkable that Huawei had somehow committed all these crimes and yet nobody has ever managed to prove anything significant in a court of law.

All we get are wild accusations and law suits that get thrown out.

Here's the really remarkable aspect here: the US government doesn't need to actually force propaganda on its citizens. If there's one thing we can learn very clearly from this entire ridiculous episode it is that American citizens and the American media will happily propagandize themselves. They will eagerly believe the most far fetched claims without a shred of proof, despite all actual evidence to the contrary, and they will spread those claims to each other in a kind of extremely intense decentralized disinformation machine. There's nothing else like this in the planet. You would think after Iraq Americans would learn even the tiniest bit of skepticism... But no.

I won't even bother pointing out any more how HN has devolved into a 24/7 racist anti-China Two Minute Hate system. At this point it's beyond clear that the community has abandoned any kind integrity. I don't think there's anything to be done which is why I'I've left and had to go through the embarrassing exercise if unrecommending the site to people I've previously recommended it to. People will say this is just a phase but I doubt it. When a community abandons any kind of Truth standard and just embraces bullshit I don't think it recovers.

Nice comment history.

Please don't cross into personal attack on HN. That only makes this place worse. Also, please don't post unsubstantive comments.


I think it was a very valid thing to post. His comment made me dive into OPs history to discover that he might as well be a paid propaganda spreader. Or at the very least not someone worth engaging or taking seriously. Why is it considered unsubstantive?

It's unsubstantive because it brings up a personal point solely (if implicitly) to cast aspersion on another user.

Internet commenters are a million times too likely to assume that someone they disagree with is posting in bad faith. This is probably the biggest poison we see on HN, and it's growing. When it comes to minorities of any kind (such as nationality), the effect is to gang up on others and hound them. If that sounds odd, imagine how you'd feel if expressing your personal view on something led people to accuse you of being a spy or a paid agent. That's happening commonly now. For an example from a few months ago, see the thread at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19401961.

This comes from a cognitive bias rather than malice—the bias that, because my views are so obviously bright and light to me, anyone disagreeing must be coming from a dark place—but it's no less poisonous for being unintentional.

It's unsubstantive because it's purely conjecture.

Not everyone who has a differing view from the common consensus is a "paid propaganda spreader" and a differing view does not make someone any less worthy of engaging or taking seriously.

I would not classify the OP's post as unsubstantial. He makes an effort to type fully formed opinions and many of his comments are backed by citations. If you want to see an example of objectively unsubstantive posts, please see [1]. You will only find one-liners and unsubstantiated, inflammatory statements.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=scoot_718

By the way, your comment also break HN's rules on accusing others of astroturfing:

> Please don't make insinuations about astroturfing. It degrades discussion and is usually mistaken. If you're worried, email us and we'll look at the data.

Definitely a good read, reminds on when I was in Hong Kong and my guide would always say June 4 Incident around tourists from the PRC. The mainlanders would always immediately start defending the government.

good riddance.

Seems like a lot of accusations against the Chinese and their tech is being force fed down our throats lately. Not surprising, since we are currently within a trade war and any opportunity to drive out Chinese competition would be taken - especially since Huawei would have been a huge competitor in the smartphone market (I heard their camera quality is currently the best).

I"m skeptical, as some of these accusations are not that far-fetched. What I'm more concerned of, is whether or not this is driven by some higher entity so that mass-hatred for the Chinese and their tech is accumulated, which would mean state driven media.

Despite all of these accusations of being one step behind, Huawei seems to be on the forefront of a lot of things - especially in the field of 5G, so it would seem possible that the US would pull some propaganda antics to make us reconsider Huawei and Chinese Tech

Its tough trying to read and discern for yourself anything on the web nowadays - as for this matter, I'm putting my thoughts on Huawei and Chinese tech on hold since I think both cases are true - That there are some concerns with tech theft against the chinese, but its also being extremely exaggerated.

Well, according to the US Department of Justice, China is behind 90% of espionage and industrial theft cases that it has handled over the past 7 years [1]

To use a less biased source [2], SCMP (which is a HK newspaper now owned by Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba) mentioned:

John Demers, assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s national security division, said that by stealing trade secrets through computer intrusions and the co-opting of company insiders, China had “turned the tradecraft of its intelligence services against American companies”.

Between 2011 and 2018, Demers said, more than 90 per cent of his department’s cases alleging “economic espionage on behalf of a state” involved China. Among such cases are the recent prosecutions of Chinese national Xu Yanjun, suspected of trying to steal trade secrets from US and European aerospace companies, and 10 other Chinese intelligence agents suspected of similar offences.

“The playbook is simple,” Demers said. “Rob, replicate and replace.”

[1] https://www.newsweek.com/china-involved-90-percent-economic-...

[2] https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2177727/fb...

If you try to treat every Chinese scientist and engineer as a spy, and prioritize the handling of cases related to China, 70% is not surprising. 100% is possible.

If 70% of robbery cases handled are by black people, is it because the black robs more, or is it because the DoJ is racist?

If 70% of espionage case handled are related to China, it must be China's bad. Huh.

The passive voice here is fascinating. Huawei did something! What did they do? They got accused.

Who is accusing them? AKHAN Semiconductor (and the FBI), a small company in Illinois whose primary product is these diamond-coated screens. Past their founder, the second person on their about page is their "Vice President of Government Affairs;" the third person listed on their about page is their "Global Security and Intelligence Advisor," a former senior CIA officer who joined the company in May.

If the roles were reversed - a small display-tech company in China that recently got a senior Party member and intelligence officer to join made accusations about America with the help of the Chinese national police organization, and Xinhua was reporting on it - I think we would be very skeptical!

We would be very skeptical because the Chinese government is very untrustworthy. If the BBC reported that a British tech company found out Samsung was spying on it, I doubt anyone (except maybe Samsung and the South Korean government) would dismiss the accusation out of hand.

I had a friend at Huawei about a year ago tell me how they had lawyers come in and prep them on the exact procedures they should follow in the event of an FBI raid. This was well before I heard anything in the news about China, Huawei, etc tensions.

Knowing this, I personally give quite a bit of weight to any accusation against the company. I have a hard time justifying in my mind that a company operating legitimately in the US would prep their employees on how to respond during an FBI raid.

Uber prepared their employees for this:

"At least two dozen times, the San Francisco headquarters locked down equipment in foreign offices to shield files from police raids."


Uber, the paragon of virtue when it comes to following the law.

Actually instructing employees how to interact with government officials is on its own a quite reasonable training. Unless they were instructed on destroying evidence, there is nothing wrong with that. I work at an American company, and we get annual trainings which also cover legal aspects. Most of them are of course just the standard trainings about proper legal and ethical behavior.

The friend referenced gave the strong impression that things did not appear above board. This was a late career individual and stated that they had never seen anything like it.

They didn't provide any details beyond that. It's possible that the individual had just never experienced any legal compliance training, but based on their role I certainly expect they had.

The Economist reported on the "techno-nationalism" driving fear of Huawei in their August 4, 2012 cover story. https://www.economist.com/leaders/2012/08/04/whos-afraid-of-... This has been a long time brewing, though there's been a significant uptick in recent months of worries about China, e.g., Bloomberg's October article where they made up lies about Supermicro.

It makes perfect sense to me that Huawei would prep its employees on how to deal with a raid, and being prepared for the police is not solely the action of the guilty. It tells us that Huawei is afraid of the FBI. It does not tell is that Huawei is afraid of the FBI because Huawei are bad guys.

Of course Adam Khan is is "willing to talk" per the article. They were dealt a second hand given recent events and their brush with Huawei, and will play it for all it's worth, starting with their interview in February. These guys, after 5 years of failing to find a single willing phone maker, are trying to pivot into US military sales. Anti-Huawei publicity is certainly good for them.

For comparison, Corning got Gorilla Glass onto multiple companies' phones within a year of announcement in 2008. I've said before that Corning is a juggernaut in glass with a longstanding reputation, but I still don't see how those partners could agree to just buy the glass without multiple rounds of testing, and even trying to break samples, given a major selling point is durability. Huawei can't have been the only phone maker to have received AKHAN glass for testing, and it would be interesting to know what the other companies did to it before turning them down.

I also feel there is something suspicious here. This thread is bombarded with one group people asking for citations of claims and another group of people refusing to provide anything but hearsay in response. Can we just see some facts in here?

If you look at the reports, it’s been out there for a long time. It’s not some new thing. I heard the anecdote I recounted below (about copying routers down to the silk screening) more than a decade ago. If you’ve worked in telecom/networking, this is common knowledge.

The near daily feed is reminiscent of the propaganda campaign in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq.

To be honest, it's getting to the point where even if most of the accusations are true (and I'm quite willing to believe they are), they don't _feel_ true. When (seemingly) everytime you open Hacker News there is a new accusation against Huawei, it starts to not feel plausible.

I'm starting to think it is getting kind of absurd how it is always mentioned that Huawei is way ahead on 5G. This is a message Huawei is of course also pushing very hard to put out there. I'm working in the industry and I haven't seen anything that supports that claim. It is hard to say who is in the lead but I don't think the difference between the top companies is that big.

I agree that the all out media blitz is ‘interesting.’

I read that out of 35 close European and Asian allies of the USA who have been pressured to not do business with Huawei, only 3 of them are cooperating with us. I am all for having secure infrastructure but the flip side is that we seem to be conditioning our allies to not cooperate with us. Long term, this is not good.

There is no evidence of “mass hatred.” There is plenty of evidence that steals IP. If there is some evidence that Huawei doesn’t steal IP, then let’s hear it. Corporate espionage is a real thing, suggesting that Huawei never engages in it is ridiculous. Suggesting this is propaganda has no basis in fact, considering that they do steal IP, they do engage in corporate espionage and they are affiliated closely with the Chinese MSS — an agency that makes the Stasi look like Boy Scouts.

Would you please stop posting political, ideological, and nationalistic flamewar comments to HN? We've cut you a ton of slack about this over the years, but you're repeatedly violating the spirit of this site as well as its guidelines. This comment is bad even by the low standards of this thread.


What I had hoped to see discussed about these IP thief story is, what is our IP protection system doing. The patent and copyright system that has been the bane of every IP court case, are those system simplify disfunctional is the one use case that they're suppose to address?

Are huge corporation like Nortel/Samsung/Cisco suddenly too small to defend for themselves, in the US and EU, where I would assumed to be the biggest market? Is the Samsung that got sued for rounded-corner phone not thought of to patent their technique to put oled onto curved glass? (which sounds extremely patent worthy)

edit: grammar

These IP policies only work nationally, and internationally among friendly countries that respect IP treaties (Hint: China isn't one of them).

Next, these countries still get to export goods containing the stolen technology back to countries where the IP was stolen (perhaps via third-party distributors), since there is typically no provision barring that.

Unrelated but in their Bangalore office, they had sleeping bunks and showers in office premises and managers were routinely setting impossible deadlines and employees encouraged to work all day and night and sleep/shower in office if needed.

Sounds like the typical working conditions of an Apple Inc satellite. Also unrelated.

Cisco was a rip off of The Stanford Blue Box. AFAIK the deans of the biz school and CS school founded Cisco with tech created by Stanford and were almost sued. Stanford decided that it wasn’t worth the potential bad press to be sueing faculty.

"Someone else does it too" isn't a very strong argument.

We may be approaching a world where all critical infrastructure must be open hardware and software, or face a Balkenizd patchwork of suppliers local to each market.

(Not a Cisco or Huawei fan myself.)


I love how people are trying to justify the West's practices in asinine ways. The west needs to be criticized, ostracised and banned in the strongest way possible.

West lost its credibility long time ago. They have mismanaged their brand to reap short term benefits. Blah blah blah....

the rest of the world cannot blindly trust any Chinese company

The world cannot blindly trust any company. Companies are not persons. Companies try to make a profit, so at a whim they might change their business practises. With some luck you can trust a sitting CEO, but not even that is a given.

Jesus H. Christ. This is flat out jingoism, racism, xenophobia.

> any Chinese company

What?! Any and every? Are you crazy?

> Huawei needs to be criticized, banned, ostracized and condemned in the strongest way possible.

So basically the Salem Witch trials are alive and well again. Glad to know that's where we're at culturally.

On what grounds? I have yet to be shown any tangible proof of their nefarious ways. When I Google proof evidence huawei industrial espionage all I get are articles asking where the proof is at. I'm sure there's a low-level of industrial espionage going on all over the place all the time. What I want is proof that this company is a particularly egregious offender. Basically, all I'm asking for is evidence to support the hysteria.

I have audited over 200 Chinese companies in the semiconductor industry. Our entire process is different for China than for say a German or Japanese firms.

IP theft is rampant in China, especially in semiconductor sector.

Apple follows similar stringent selection process for their Chinese suppliers.

This isn’t racism, please don’t accuse my intent and motive. Let’s talk about Chinese practices, their laws (or how they bend them) and how these companies have a tremendous involvement with the Chinese government.

I have many Chinese friends, some amazing stories of people in China and have immersed myself in the Chinese culture for over 5 years and spending 400 nights in Chinese cities. Your accusation is uncalled for. Criticizing a country isn’t racism.


Three times you could have moderated or qualified your statements, three times you failed to do so and made blanket statements.

> China is lost its credibility a long time ago

The entire country?

> cannot blindly trust any Chinese company

Really? Any and every?

> The Chinese has mismanaged their “brand”

Again, all Chinese?

To my ears, that smacks of racism.

Wall Street Journal has recently published an article [1] detailing some of the most high profile technology thefts and espionage related to Huawei.

According to the article, here's a list of thefts and espionage attributed to Huawei, employees of Huawei, or people related to Huawei.

1. Stealing tech at tradeshows:

On a summer evening in 2004, as the Supercomm tech conference in Chicago wound down, a middle-aged Chinese visitor began wending his way through the nearly abandoned booths, popping open million-dollar networking equipment to photograph the circuit boards inside, according to people who were there.

A security guard stopped him and confiscated memory sticks with the photos, a notebook with diagrams and data belonging to AT&T Corp. , and a list of six companies including Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. and Nortel Networks Corp.

2. Secure rooms impenetrable to electronic eavesdropping built in Huawei’s U.S. offices :

Alarm bells included the discovery around 2012 of secure rooms impenetrable to electronic eavesdropping built in Huawei’s U.S. offices, akin to facilities in intelligence stations around the world, American security officials say.

3. Former staff admits stealing :

“They spent all their resources stealing technology,” said Robert Read, a former contract engineer from 2002 to 2003 in Huawei’s Sweden office. “You’d steal a motherboard and bring it back and they’d reverse-engineer it.”

4. Stealing tech from Cisco :

Eighteen months before the Supercomm imbroglio erupted, Cisco accused Huawei in January 2003 of copying its software and manuals—the first time Huawei had to fight a major international allegation of its theft.

“They have made verbatim copies of whole portions of Cisco’s user manuals,” Cisco said in its lawsuit. Cisco manuals accompany its routers, and its software is visible during the router’s operation; both are easily copied, Cisco said.

The copying was so extensive that Huawei inadvertently copied bugs in Cisco’s software, according to the lawsuit.

5. Stealing tech from Motorola :

Email fragments recovered from Mr. Pan’s laptop and included in Motorola’s complaint show Mr. Pan wrote to Mr. Ren after the meeting, “Attached please find those document [sic] about SC300 specification you asked.” Huawei later made a similarly small device, weighing half the SC300, which it marketed to rural communities in developing markets.

5. 5G related tech theft:

Mr. Barker had never heard of “user specific tilt,” which could multiply the number of signals from an antenna and tilt them to provide greater accuracy in communicating with mobile phones.

Mr. Barker had, however, heard of a conceptually identical technology, ”per user tilt." He coined it seven years earlier, according to a Quintel lawsuit alleging misappropriation of trade secrets by Huawei. Quintel said it had shared the technology with Huawei in September 2009 after Huawei proposed a business partnership.

The partnership never came through. Huawei filed papers to secure a patent for the concept a month after their first meeting, using a document still emblazoned with Quintel’s name and the words “commercial in confidence.”

6. Camera theft :

Rui Oliveira, a 45-year-old Portuguese multimedia producer, told the Journal he flew to Huawei’s Plano offices in May 2014 to meet Huawei executives, who were interested in his patents for a camera attachment to smartphones.

In a conference room, surrounded by a dozen empty chairs, Mr. Oliveira recalls, two Huawei executives listened as he shared data on his product which he hoped to license manufacturing to Huawei. He recommended pricing it at $99.95.

“We’ll talk later,” he says Huawei told him.

Three years later, a friend in Portugal asked him why Huawei was selling “his camera.”

“Huawei? That’s impossible! What?” he remembers saying.

7. Stealing songs :

Paul Cheever, a bespectacled preschool teacher who records music as The Cheebacabra, said his life has become overrun with paperwork and costs since he sued Huawei in California last year for taking his song “A Casual Encounter” and pre-loading it on Huawei smartphones and tablets for free distribution to its customers.

Mr. Cheever said in his court filing that he discovered the alleged theft after noticing user comments on YouTube that associated Huawei devices with his song.

8. Stealing Tappy, the mobile phone testing robot, from T-Mobile :

In the U.S., Huawei engineer Xiong Xinfu had endured a nine-month fusillade of demands from Huawei’s China-based engineers for information on how to replicate a robot called Tappy developed by T-Mobile to mimic an ultra-fast human finger and test a smartphone’s responsiveness. In May 2013, Mr. Xiong eventually stole part of Tappy at Huawei’s behest, U.S. prosecutors say.

9. Stealing Solid State Drive technology from Silicon Valley :

In October last year, Yiren “Ronnie” Huang, a longtime Silicon Valley engineer and co-founder of San Jose’s CNEX Labs Inc., accused Huawei in a lawsuit of stealing his firm’s solid-state disk storage technology, used for managing data generated by artificial intelligence. CNEX said at a hearing in April that Huawei deputy chairman Eric Xu issued a directive that led to a Huawei engineer in June 2016 posing as a customer to steal CNEX secrets; Huawei denied wrongdoing. The suit is ongoing.

10. finally, forcing employees to be dishonest :

Jesse Hong, a software architect at Huawei’s California unit, said in a lawsuit that his bosses ordered him in November 2017 to use fake company names to register himself for an industry conference organized by Facebook Inc. The social-media giant had invited other companies to a Telecom Infra Project meeting, a collaboration on network design, but excluded Huawei. The suit was confidentially settled in April.

Mr. Hong said he refused to carry out the directive, leading his supervisor to unleash a stream of abuse and a threat: “If you don’t agree on this, then you quit right now.”

After Mr. Hong declined, Huawei fired him. The company says it acted in good faith.

[1] https://www.wsj.com/articles/huaweis-yearslong-rise-is-litte...

I googled the 2003 Cisco vs. Huawei case as your post wasn't clear about the outcome. The WSJ article claims that Huawei admitted copying some software. I found this blog post:


It's a Cisco reaction to the following statement by Huawei's chief US representative:

"Huawei provided our source code of our products to Cisco for review and the results were that there was not any infringement found and in the end Cisco withdrew the case ... the source code of the issues was actually from a 3rd party partner that was already available and open on the internet."

The blog post goes on to say that this is not a permissible statement and Huawei are misstating facts. Finally it provides some evidence for the copying, such as similar whitespace and comments in the source code. It also mentions the name of the "routine": STRCMP :-D. They should have run this post by an engineer before publishing...

Decide for yourself, but in my opinion there is quite limited value in a specific strcmp and likely they both copied it from the same free-software codebase.

Does it seem more believable that when Cisco and Huawei had a dispute about what code was duplicated they picked an absurdly unqualified engineer or Cisco, one the world's largest router providers, has a highly optimized and specialized strcmp built out for their routers? The second seems way more believable to me than the first.

Someone at one of Cisco’s competitors once told me that Huawei copied their routers down to the English silk screened assembly instructions on the PCBs.

Friend of mine also does contracting work for them. They never pay their bills on time apparently.

I know a guy who used to work for TI who talked about the Chinese knocking off chips, right down to purposely-introduced defects added specifically to detect such counterfeiting. Problem was, knowing that it happened didn't do much good. Ended up moving production of some stuff to the Philippines because there was literally no recourse.

I remember when I worked in a trade company, one of most unusual things to sell was a maskset from a company that went bust.

Apparently a very common practice in China, companies were selling masksets of their discontinued ICs to companies lower on the ladder for them to manufacture relabelled/repackaged chips.

Grain of salt on the latter concern, because lots of big American companies are also infamous for not paying contractors on time. One of our best (huge) clients at my last company got more than a year into arrears with us, and friends at other companies have much more lurid stories than that.

Can you reformat your post so it's easier to visually see the number of distinct instances of theft?

updated the formatting. Hope it makes the text easier to read.

Very easy to read. Thanks for the informative summary!

that’s an impressive laundry list of blatant transgressions that make even Uber look good in comparison.

Most of this is not stealing, but instead copying and spying.

More provoking, perhaps Huawei is aware of this and using it as intimidation, "we can copy you exactly faster than you can innovate, so better work with us..".

Curious pattern here where knowledge of secrets is considered stealing or not stealing depending on the subject.

I wonder if it's just different people reading or if the community itself views it differently.

After all, "it's not stealing if you have your copy" does mean parent is right.

Agree/disagree is not the only factor involved in voting - another one that I suspect is in play here is “interesting/uninteresting in the context of the present discussion”.

A fair point. Surely in the question of intellectual property, it is just as relevant here as it is there.

I'm not stealing your TV, I'm just borrowing and keeping it!

No, that would be stealing. But if you opened a TV and photographed it then it's not stealing.

Try telling that to Cisco

How is that a valid defence? Try telling the MPAA/RIAA that your use of The Pirate Bay isn't stealing.

Without even getting into the "is personal piracy wrong" issue, it's pretty easy to draw a line between an individual downloading songs from pirate bay and a major corporation pirating IP wholesale and then making a business out of reselling the derivative products.

Without entering the entire debate, I was only intending to talk about the "Ask the plaintiff" style. Obviously the plaintiff is going to think something's wrong. That's what being the plaintiff is.

Sure, I can agree with that. Good point.

Fair enough

I got to #4 and wondered if this was propaganda. Seems too ridiculous

wasn't samsung's foldable tech stolen as well? makes sense considering how fast huawei was able to get it.

I posted this a while back about why Samsung rushed the release of their foldable phone:

a) Samsung spent a ton of money and research in building foldable OLED screens.

b) This technology is allegedly stolen by a supplier and sold to BOE Display: https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Samsung-supplier-....

c) Huawei uses the foldable BOE Display technology in its Mate X smartphone and is on track to be the first to release it.

d) Samsung panics as it learns that the technology it built might be released by a competitor earlier than them and consumers might think of them as less of an innovator. May sound silly but the Chinese companies have been getting a lot of traction recently e.g. P30 Pro.

e) In addition Samsung goes into lock down as it fears there might be more leaks to other companies.

f) Combination of d) and e) means that there is less real world testing of the device than for other phones. And hence how we got to this point.

I remember reading this post. What has changed since then is the on-track-ness of everyone =)

Seems almost too fast? Reports of the leak were published in November last year [1]. It doesn't say when the leaks took place so unless they were leaked at least year before would it even be possible to construct a foldable phone in that short of a time frame (Feb when Mate X was showcased)?

[1] https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/30/tech/samsung-china-tech-theft...

Iirc there were reports that a Samsung manufacturing partner stole their oled tech in China. There wasnt any follow up stories on for whom it was stolen. Although I have a feeling if the Xiaomi folding oled screens were really stolen Samsung would accuse them and stir up a storm. That Xiaomi phone got mainstream press coverage in the west, it wasnt just some small thing made only for China and importable via aliexpress

I dunno. The Huawei foldable looked considerably different as far as the tech, and it fold the other direction. I think it's going to have even worse issues than the Samsung if it ever actually gets released.

It was the foldable display OLED, not the folding mechanism that was stolen IIRC. Also note it was widely speculated that Huawei's display supplier, BOE, was behind the theft.

Different tech. Huawei's folding displays were made by BOE.

They were made by BOE who stole stole/copied the tech from Samsung.


If BOE stole from Samsung, then what did Toptec steal?

> They are accused of passing on Samsung technologies related to curved-edge smartphone panels that use organic light-emitting diodes, or OLED, to four companies.

If you want to play the finger pointing game at least play it straight.

I think most people who follow the smartphone space will recall when Samsung accused Huawei of stealing their foldable screen technology and sure enough a few months later Huawei is demonstrating folding phone prototypes. I know the row with the US government is more about security threats, but I like to think of Huawei's implosion as the consequences of refusing to respect the rest of the world.

Would like to see Nortel given their assets.

The shambling corpse of the Nortel DWDM/optical transport/carrier transport product line was acquired by Ciena.

I'm curious of the political implications of this situation. You have one side (the anti Huawei side) that is aided by a very unpopular US president and US government institutions that are highly mistrusted. You also have the narrative that companies like Google and nations like Canada have been coerced into supporting this "assault" on Chinese interests.

It also doesn't help that there is a "trade war" in effect where many people believe collateral damage is going to happen, just or not... that it's simply a reality of a (proxy) war. Finally, you have the Huawei customers/supporters (from all over the world) that feel strongly these accusations are fabricated and entirely self serving to the US.

How do we navigate this mess and get to the core facts in an age where expert opinions and fact checking is undervalued? And, as it relates to China, where is the line between xenophobia and justified concern?

There's bipartisan support in the US Congress for confronting Huawei and China. It's one of the few things Democrats and Republicans agree on.

Also it's very unlikely Canada and other countries are being forced on Huawei or Chinese trade. EU and other western countries have the same concerns on both issues. It isn't like China and Huawei's behavior has been confined to US borders.

The US didn't chose Canada as an ally in this fight arbitrarily. One of the top other comments on this thread will tell you all you need to know about why Canadians are 100% down with going after Huawei: they killed off Nortel via IP theft.

I watched as friends' parents lost their jobs, as one of the leading telecom companies in the world was undercut by a competitor who has stolen their source code, IP, products, everything.

Trump doesn't like Huawei? Well, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

FWIW the Obama administration issued the original warning of distrust for Huawei, so none of this should really come as a surprise.

Intelligence agencies from other governments e.g. Australia are also wary of Huawei equipment.

This isn't about Trump or his trade war.

surprised? I don't think so, after all Huawei had admitted in video: 'We lie, we cheat, we steal!', and Chinese applauded! shame on them!


"Good artists copy great artists steal" [1]

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW0DUg63lqU

Do these companies ever actually innovate and build social/intellectual capital beyond reverse engineering skills or are they gaming to pollute the waters so much that they risk sacrificing the golden goose to whom they steal ideas? This all sort of reminds me of the quip communism or socialism only works until those in charge spend all the money of those who are productive. If IP and the R&D expenses never become profitable and companies go under what then?

Yes. One of which is the innovation they had done recently in 5G, where China scored 34% of essential patent [1]. Except, we all know what US decides to do when another superpower is threatening it.

Technology are always developed this way: learn (sometimes not so nicely), catch up, and then innovate. An random country can't innovate itself to a 5G/technology super power immediately.

What I never get from this accusations is, why aren't these company suing to ban Huawei sales if the copying is so blatant. Have they not heard of the patent system? Is Cisco/Nortel suddenly a small company that cannot afford to sue and/or have a vast arsenel of patents?

[1] https://venturebeat.com/2019/05/02/china-dusts-the-u-s-finla...

> why aren't these company suing to ban Huawei sales if the copying is so blatant. ...

First, Huawei's sales in the US already is quite limited to have any impact. Second, you can't win any sales or import injunction on 5G SEP violation.

> Do these companies ever actually innovate and build social/intellectual capital beyond reverse engineering skills

Yes. See the industrial history of the US, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and everywhere else that ignored patents and trade secrets for more details. Cisco would be highly profitable if it could only sell to the US market and if you’re the market leader your stuff is just better for years to minimum, a year. People want the best, they want quality, so they pay a premium for it. That’s why brands exist, otherwise people would have to do their own quality control for each individual thing they bought.

Well, in the USA, American industry got its start by stealing British technology.

At this point, China copying foreign technology is just the path of least resistance.

Eventually, China will be doing the innovating.

I really despise this kind of reasoning. You’re literally comparing 200 year old history and justifying modern IP theft, and projecting forward.

I am not justifying, just describing.

As far as the other issue goes, Chinese not being creative due to [insert reason here], I think that is just silly.

I am sure the British said, "those dumb Yanks, they can only copy, can't create anything."

Stealing works. If the benefit > risk, they should do it.

What an insane argument. Murder, Theft, Deceit, Assault, Terrorism “works” as well. Being a crow in the population of doves has short term benefits to the individual, the crow in this case, but soon more crows will pop up and the societal balance turns into chaos.

I’m sure we need not argue this obvious fact. Are you really condoning that stealing OK if it works? I’m speechless.

>Murder, Theft, Deceit, Assault, Terrorism “works”.

Depending on the context, yes. Murder, for example, if I'm in a remote island and someone is going to kill me and they are weaker than me, then yes murdering them first works, the benefit > risk.

Likewise,in the context of Huawei, stealing works.

Note that I'm not saying the US shouldn't do anything to prevent/retaliate.

In the 80s, Japan stole American IP, and now innovates. 30 years ago.

In the 90s, Korea stole Japanese IP, and now innovates. 20 years ago.

The assumption there that the capacity for creativity in China comparable to that in the west.

I wonder firstly about the extent to which creativity can exist to a societally significant extent under an increasingly authoritarian government.

I also wonder about the extent to which the Chinese creative class was purged in the cultural revolution, and what impact that may have had on the societal capacity for creativity.

Without deeper investigation, I don't think it's reasonable to conclude that modern China has (or does not have) a capacity for creativity that will allow them to outpace a genuinely liberal and freely educated society.

So all the Soviet engineers, scientists and mathematicians were just stealing from the other genuinely liberal and freely educated societies?

What about the Japanese?


I'm not saying that the possible factors that I'm talking about are the only ones at play, I'm arguing that their potential for impact is significant enough that they cannot simply be discounted.

Also, regarding Soviet success, they had a tendency to throw shit at the wall to see what would stick (https://www.npr.org/sections/krulwich/2011/05/02/134597833/c...) to an extent well in excess of what would be acceptable in a less callous society.

(Not that America was innocent in this regard - https://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/news/researchernews/rn_...)

Let's say China has 20 times less creativity than the west. This means still more creativity than most western countries because of their size.

That's really not how statistics works though.

Imagine a pair of overlapping normal distributions (https://www.google.com/search?q=overlapping+normal+distribut...), the ratio between the two is far from fixed, and the further of centre you go, the greater the discrepancy.

My suspicion is that an authoritarian regime is likely to offset the centre of the creativity distribution.

But that's not the full extent of what I suspect of the Chinese population's distribution in terms of creativity.

My thoughts are that it's more likely to be a partially truncated normal distribution, with a rapid and significant drop off at the high end of the creativity spectrum.

This is all pure conjecture, but if either possibility is true it would be significantly restricting to Chinese creativity, and if both are true it would be devastating (especially in terms of their ability to compete).

Further off centre.

You are right however, that China does have a significant advantage in terms of scale due to their population - and this is an advantage compounded by low pay and a lack of worker rights.

Society may not support that creativity in terms of production output while in the west you have creative multipliers.

According to the interview with NPR the product was sent to the US and returned via mail, presumably a US carrier.

I'd be throwing my phone in the trash right about now. I would venture to guess all Huawei data is going to China.

I assume, you have no Facebook or Google account?

Just to name some companies whose business principle is built on aquiring as much data about you as possible. With Facebook we even have documented and publicly admitted cases where they shared the data with third parties.

Do you really own a Huawei phone? I think anyone that do trust them to the same degree now as when they bought it.

Why would I care about someone in China knowing about my doctor's appointment or recent sports browsing? Why would anyone in China care to know about it?

I certainly would if I were to employ you.

Wow, a political test for employment. I appreciate your honesty, at least.

> Huawei Accused Of Technology Theft

In other news, water is wet.

Please don't post unsubstantive comments to Hacker News.


Good point. Water is not wet in its frozen state. One could easily make the argument that the majority of water in the universe is not wet.

Except for it is called ice.

Ice is frozen water. Steam is gaseous water. Water is liquid water. They're all water. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water#States

You are right water being wet is debatable

Depends on the temperature and pressure of the water I suppose.

And more importantly, are things that exist primarily in water wet? https://youtu.be/TPDdRrMVEnA

Anything ever existed is debatable.

That's debatable.



Can you please not post unsubstantive comments to Hacker News?


Is it really limited to chinese culture? US had Echelon to spy on other countries' communications, Israel had destroyed Iranian program to have atomic energy. Europeans have stolen the secret of manufacturing a porcelain. West and Russia have stolen German secrets of making rockets after the war. Nobody wants to play fair.

And if you look at mobile game market, there everyone is stealing ideas from each other.

Is cheating/stealing something you want to perpetuate (cuz revenge or something), or something you want to call out?

I just wanted to note that it is not limited to Chinese culture as the comment above states. And I have remembered another example: Apple has copied Xerox's Alto GUI for its own computer. Here is a quote from Jobs from the article [1]:

> I was so blinded by the first thing they showed me, which was the graphical user interface. I thought it was the best thing I’d ever seen in my life.

So Jobs just copied the idea of GUI just because he "liked" it instead of developing his own computer-human interface. Is not it similar to what Huawei does: taking the ideas they "like" and innovating on top of that.

[1] https://www.mac-history.net/computer-history/2012-03-22/appl...

hate to be so nitpicking, but the whole idea of GUI had been around before Xerox and articulated by folks like Jef Raskin who later started the Mac project at Apple[1]:

> "My thesis in Computer Science, published in 1967, argued that computers should be all-graphic, that we should eliminate character generators and create characters graphically and in various fonts, that what you see on the screen should be what you get, and that the human interface was more important than mere considerations of algorithmic efficiency and compactness. This was heretical in 1967, half a decade before PARC started. Many of the basic principles of the Mac were firmly entrenched in my psyche. By the way, the name of my thesis was the "Quick-Draw Graphics System", which became the name of (and part of the inspiration for) Atkinson's graphics package for the Mac."

so yeah, Jobs might have seen the demonstration of it for the first time in his 1979 visit to PARC, but the creator of the Mac Raskin who was already working on Macintosh had already published such "heretic" idea as early as 1967. So no, it's not similar to what Huawei does.

[1] https://apple-history.com/gui_raskin1

Shocking this kind of stereotyping is not only allowed but upvoted to first place on HN.

Are they doing the stereotyping, or are they identifying instances of it? That is, people not avoiding the stereotype. I doubt it's a mystery, I know the stereotypes of white people and white men, and I strive to counteract them. As far as I know it's the only way to fight stereotypes.

Here's Bunnie Huang's explanation of cavalier disregard for copyright/trademark and IP law:


I'm sure he's biased, right?

Not sure how I should understand your comment, but the link you posted is great. It clearly shows what a great place Shenzen is. If Silicon Valley is be the place for software startups, Shenzen is its equivalent in hardware. So much ingenuity combined with an extremely short manufacturing pipeline as described in the article. And as long as we are not talking about actual counterfeit products, I can't blame them for being inspired by known brands products. But unless we are talking acutally patented or copyrighted things, the concept of "IP" isn't as clear-cut as some company lawyers like to make it.

I used to be angry at these posts, but now I'm just sad. Despite the GP then saying it's 'PRC Chinese' vs 'Singaporean Chinese,' it's still unclear if this is a broad swipe at an ethnic group, a nation's people, or their culture at large. It's just easy to vent unsubstantiated anger when it's the popular thing to do.

It's so rife in the academic world that it goes beyond stereotype.

It's a spillover from the right wing reddits. Always starts with "it's in their culture" never mind that almost all of the Chinese expats are just hard working normal humans. Their government might be effed up but it's a bit of a long jump to blame their culture

I don’t know, man. What i am about to say is anecdotal, but as someone who went through educational system (up until beginning of high school) in Russia, it was the same there. As soon as teacher left for a bathroom break in the middle of the class, there would always be a few students who spring up to the desk and search real quick for answer sheets for the upcoming exam or something like that. No one would call them out, because the students who try to find the materials were considered the righteous heroes risking being caught for the common good.

After talking to my dad (who still lives there) recently, I only reinforced my opinion that it is definitely a cultural issue in Russia. I cannot speak for China specifically, but I don’t see why it cannot be the case there as well.

P.S. It sucks I even feel the need to mention this, but I have zero affiliation or interest in anything even remotely right-wing.

I also don't know, man, but that sounds so un-Russian to me, I, as a Russian myself, am having trouble believing it. It wasn't like that 25-30 years ago. Nobody would call people out in general, because in Russian culture being a snitch is one of the worst thing you can be, but nobody would go as far as to rummage through teacher's papers. Cheating was pretty rampant in other ways: people would bring cheatsheets to exams (there's no such thing as "cheatsheets allowed" exams there, and exams are often stupid hard because people keep "passing" them somehow), rip off essays, etc, but teacher's stuff was out of reach at least.

from a lecturer's perspective - It's not a problem if students pass - it's a problem if everybody gets an 'A' and there was no way to differentiate the cohort.

It's a problem if too many fail - you have people retaking subjects and you don't have enough lecturers for additional classes - there are new students coming through the pipeline. Consequently, a minimum pass is usually indicative of the 'end of the road' and go get a job.

Your marks are adjusted to pass. Unless you never attended classes at all or didn't hand up coursework, you are unlikely to fail.

If the exams were crazy hard... that's because it was a wrong solution to the problem.

What I meant to say, there was a bit of an arms race going on, especially in higher education. The professors and teachers knew many (if not all) students were cheating, so they adjusted the difficulty accordingly, so that, as you point out, not everyone gets an A. I don't know if it's still going on.

And I did have a few professors which considered it a problem if more than half of their class passed the first time they took the exam.

Such professors... have another reason for failing half the class...

They have to fail a number of students so that his class size maintains the numbers to avoid unwanted attention from the administration.

If let's say the normal class size was about 20, but you only get about 15 new students each semester, so you fail 5 of them (or more accounting for dropouts) to make up the numbers.

That's not how it worked in Russia at the time (don't know how it is now). You chose the profession to pursue, the curriculum was fixed and tailored to that profession. The side effect of this is class sizes were fixed, since everyone in the cohort studied the same things. In fact for my profession there were several parallel cohorts. We started out with about 100 people in total, and by graduation it was something like 30-35, the rest dropped out because shit's hard.

well, if you’re talking about 30 years ago, it was probably a different world then. It probably was less of a certification than entry into a guaranteed job.

today, the only analog to such a selection criteria in Singapore would be combat pilot selection. Every year probably a few thousand apply, about 200 manage to pass medicals, aptitudes etc, to go basic wings and only about 15-20 make the final cut.

That doesn’t happen in academia today though. A certificate doesn’t guarantee you a job, fewer tenure positions available, school fees rising, less govt support, administration getting more powerful due to corporatization etc. The certificate is seen as default end product, not a trophy for the top performers.

I find the “it’s their culture” thing inappropriate too. (Especially because it seems to be more a deliberate economic/political strategy.) But you’ve mentioned one of my pet peeves so I am going to weigh in. You can’t judge a country by its expats. The expats are, after all, the ones who left (or were driven out). They’re not representative. Really, there is something a little odd with them—what kind of person abandons their country and all their family ties and moves across the world? Typical people don’t do that. My dad is one of those people. He’s a by the book rule follower, and Bangladeshis typically are ... more flexible. It drove him crazy. Then when he got the chance, he packed up his family and pretty much never looked back.

You have issue with a generalist "it's their culture" and in the same breath generalize about ex-pats? Do you perhaps see a problem with that?

HN has gone completely off the rails. See my comment above. It's been like this for more than a year now. This sort of outright racist hate speech is now completely normal on HN and is eagerly embraced.

Some behaviours are normative in some places and not in others, for whatever reasons.

Some are mundane, some we don't notice, some we don't care about, some we misinterpret.

But 'cheating' is a problem in China which I have come to believe is factually true. Have a gander [1]

Also, thousands of Chinese ex-pat students have been expelled from US schools. [2]

[1] https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1974986...

[2] https://www.scmp.com/news/china/money-wealth/article/1812115...

why I say it is a cultural issue, is because when there are minority PRC origin students in majority Singaporean classes the PRCs tend to adapt and not try funny tricks. They longer they assimilate, the less they try.

For Singaporeans it's an unholy sin to cheat at exams, (you are barred from exams for the semester, all your grades for the entire semester are invalidated, you parents will be ashamed of you, and everyone you know will unfriend you) but copying homework/assignments/plagiarism is still somewhat tolerated before university level.

> Also, thousands of Chinese ex-pat students have been expelled from US schools.

Very hard to draw any conclusions about this...

From the article: "About 8,000 Chinese students were expelled from American schools in the past year... Most were expelled because of a low grade point average (GPA)"

Another source quoting the same research says:

"A 54-page report released this week says that schools in the United States have expelled 1,657 Chinese since the 2012-2013 school year, mainly for “academic dishonesty or low academic performances,” but a company representative now says the number might be as high as 8,000 students. “A lot of students tend to keep silent or go back to their country,” says Andrew Chen, chief development officer at WholeRen." [1] (also, note that your source is wrong, as this is over the 3 year period from 2012 - 2015, not over the year 2015)

So it's 1657 over 3 years, but "might be as high as as high as 8000" according to a company representative? And over half of that was for poor performance, not cheating. So we can say that between 800 and 4000 students were expelled for academic dishonesty over 3 years.

How does that compare to the general population? Not sure, but according to these statistics, over 100,000 students were expelled in 2006 from public schools in the US. [2] They don't break this down by reason, but that's a pretty big number compared to 200 - 1300 in a year for Chinese students, especially considering the US hosts a quarter million Chinese students each year [1].

[1] https://www.newsweek.com/us-colleges-expelled-many-8000-chin...

[2] https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d10/tables/dt10_169.asp

> It’s built into their culture.

Singaporean exceptionalism, arrogance and small state syndrome are similarly “well known” phenomena - can you see how it would be wrong or even harmful of me to perpetuate such stereotypes?

Yes. Along 'chopping' - or reservation of seats using tissue paper, not returning utensils after eating in a hawker center. You die your problem. You suffer I sleep well tonight. Just google ugly Singaporean.

Yes those ugly habits are "in the Singaporean culture". I find it a lost cause to fight against it.

If everybody cheats, do you not cheat? Does that count as "in your culture"? If everybody takes bribes, do you not give them? Is that "in your culture"?

Our government wanted to ban spitting in public places. I still see old folks do it.

You need generational change to change culture. Or some catastrophe.

It's kind of funny to speak of "stealing tech" when it's the foreign companies themselves who give Chinese manufacturers all that's needed to set up production lines to make the tech. Like, what did you expect, that they wouldn't run third shifts or sell the stuff to whoever paid them for it?

Yes, in most cases, foreign companies are REQUIRED to either transfer their tech or have a domestic partnership as a pre-condition to do business in China (ie, access to domestic market in China). There are a few notable exception to this rule -- Tesla is one recent exception. Samsung also has been able to set up multi-billion USD DRAM factories in China without any tech transfer in spite of the Chinese gov't ambitious plan to develop their own domestic high-tech manufacturing sector.

Samsung doesn't have any OLED manufacturing in China and never agreed to such terms before. In this particular case, we aren't just talking about Chinese companies poaching Samsung's former/retired engineers or shamelessly copying their IP. The Korean authorities in a sting operation stopped a bunch of Samsung suppliers from smuggling Samsung's advanced OLED manufacturing machineries to some unnamed Chinese company (wink wink you know who) in China at the port of departure in South Korea.

> Like, what did you expect, that they wouldn't run third shifts or sell the stuff to whoever paid them for it?

Yes. Because of those pesky things called "laws" and "trade agreements". It's still theft even if it wasn't always difficult to do.

I mean, you have a point, but it's inevitable. If a person pays you to do something, then you find out they are selling your work for an order of magnitude more than you're making, it's human nature to at least question this, at best mimic it, laws be damned.

You seem to be justifying crime because it was so easy to commit that you might as well.

Yard ornaments might be easy to steal, I mean, heck, people just leave them in their front yard over night. But it's still theft, it's still illegal, and even though the people made it easy there should still be a penalty for the theft.

I think most people would agree that idealogical theft is far different than physical theft.

Not saying I agree with said theft, but when making deals with known questionable actors, it's a bit of a given.

I agree with you to some degree. I am against the whole notion of non-compete agreement for this reason.

But in this particular case with Samsung's OLED, Chinese companies are not only accused of poaching their former/retired employees or stealing (or learning) know-how's or IP, but also smuggling their high-tech manufacturing machinaries out of Samsung suppliers' plants in South Korea to China outright.

Just because someone is a better salesman than you doesn't give you the right to break the law what kind of insane rational is that

Exactly. I have a hard time feeling sympathy for any company that outsourced everything to a foreign nation, then get ripped off by said nation. Were the few points in stock price worth it?

Yes, very much so to the generations of Western executives who have made these decisions over the last 25 years.

i think what happened in samsung's case was an employee stole the blueprints and sold them to china.

That's been going for some time. This case was unique in that the Korean authority caught some rogue Samsung suppliers smuggling Samsung's high-tech OLED manufacturing machinaries their factories in South Korea to China.

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