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Who Owns Huawei? (ssrn.com)
547 points by smacktoward 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 312 comments
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There’s also something the Chinese state calls “fusion centres” which is one of the most interesting facets of this intelligence-industrial complex in China.

Essentially the state decides, let’s say high tech cutting edge batteries for storing renewable energy is where they want to invest in. They gather a few companies into a building that can do it or are interested. They then have state representatives who effectively ask “what do we need to know” and “who are the major players in the field.

In a month or so they come back again. They do big closed door presentation for all the companies in the building. Suddenly all the Chinese companies in the space start delivering R&D and eventually products that match some of the best stuff being done in the space. You could almost say they’ve learnt to copy it..

How do they do it? Industrial espionage, essentially, and building an industrial and intelligence infrastructure that allows for maximum impact of the state’s intelligence apparatus into the national economy. In a way it’s kind of brilliant.

I heard it described by an NSA analyst in a very interesting talk. I thought it was fascinating and speaks exactly to your point. The idea that we are competing with “free market” Chinese companies is a fiction that we’ve made up in our own minds. It’s just not how China works. And to be fair it’s been working gang busters for them.

edit since someone asked for it, here’s the talk - https://cybersecpolitics.blogspot.com/2017/04/fusion-centers...

My description was from memory so I hope I remembered it right.


To be fair, most of innovation in America also comes from the public sector not the private one. Economist Mariana Mazzucato famously wrote about this and more in her book "The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths" which I highly recommend if you're interested.

I think it's a little misguided to say that China's innovation is solely due to corporate espionage. States have always been effective at spurring innovation when it's needed. We only need to look as far back as America's highly productive and innovative war economy to see that


I didn’t say it was solely due to espionage, only gave an example I found interesting of how they use it for their benefit really.

> To be fair, most of innovation in America also comes from the public sector not the private one

What does that have to do with what OP is talking about?


The original post seems to assert that

>"The idea that we are competing with “free market” Chinese companies is a fiction that we’ve made up in our own minds"

this fiction applies to a significant degree in the United States too.


Also, if all the Chinese are doing is going and looking up all the publicly funded research then the system is working as intended, just as if they needed some kind of software and came back with something open source. There's no need for them to "steal" Microsoft's tech if they can get something suitable with a better licence.

Did you fully read the OP's comment? We're not talking software here -- we're talking hardware, engineering, and many other things that you don't just get a copy of the how-to's from open source projects.

The claim is that the Chinese are copying stuff via industrial espionage. I get that.

But Apple also sued Samsung for using rounded corners on a phone. So there's a lot of gray area in IP enforcement.

A similar non-chinese example is the AV1 codec from Google or the Android compatibility with Java. Both are claimed to be IP theft by other western parties. I don't think either of those claims hold up, and I have no real reason to believe that China's violations are any more morally suspect without a lot more specifics.

Modern IP enforcement has left me in a "boy who cried wolf" mentality when it comes to infringement. To be honest I'm more scared of China playing that game in a hardball manner than I am of them ignoring it.


Our current IP protections are copyright, patent, and trade secrets. It's a mistake to conflate the three. Stealing trade secrets is a bit different from mimicking another's visual identity (rounded corners).

Apple, Samsung, Google, etc. may all have infringed at times, but their entire product and companies are not based off of infringement. Even in the products they infringe, the majority of it is their own.

These Chinese companies literally clone the entire product. Entire businesses are based off theft.


He's trying to argue that America is like China.

Not sure why this is downvoted, as that's exactly what the commenter's point was.

This is a meme that has been adopted by leftists wholesale. The basic premise is that since any innovation can be somehow tracked backed to government investment, the government is somehow responsible for most innovation.

It disregards the whole process that is required to take insights from research into a real product.

Yes, the internet was developed by the military. Only when private enterprise took over did it become valuable to society as a whole.

Yes, the iPhone builds on technology that originated from public research, just like all the cellphones before it. However, it wasn't a government committee that decided how to assemble all these technologies into something that people were ready to pay $1000 for.

We have lots of evidence that that the government is in fact a terrible entrepreneur that builds terrible products and services. One can point at the awful primary/secondary education, or at the DMV, or perhaps at the rollout of healthcare-dot-gov.

Even the "communist" Chinese government understands that private enterprise is the way to economic prosperity, it just disagrees on the degree of state control.


One could also argue the opposite, that commercializing an invention is much more obvious, faster and WAY CHEAPER step than inventing the tech need for it? And I agree with you that Government is a terrible entrepreneur, but that's actually a good thing, because its huge budgets and the lack of interest in making money out of it, is exactly what keeps pure science per science's sake projects alive. Lots of R&D that government finances has completely different goals than entrepreneurs would, like getting competitive advantages over foreign players or solving strategically important problems. No business person in their right mind would ever finance flying a man to moon, or research on distributed, fault-tolerant communication system for post-nuclear war world, nor anyone would be able to predict ahead all technologies that could come out of that research, it's impossible to do. So we need both steps for progress, both the government trowing tax payers money on seemingly silly R&D, and entrepreneurs looking for new ways to monetize it later.

> One could also argue the opposite, that commercializing an invention is much more obvious, faster and WAY CHEAPER step than inventing the tech need for it?

Not necessarily, or at least it doesn't readily compare. Sure, if I first have to develop all the physics dating back to Newton on my own, building a piece of electronics would be very expensive.

But let's say some researcher at a university discovers the field effect that could be useful for semiconductors. That researcher's lifetime salary will likely be far smaller than the cost required to actually bring their findings into the actual microprocessors.

> So we need both steps for progress, both the government trowing tax payers money on seemingly silly R&D, and entrepreneurs looking for new ways to monetize it later.

If we're talking about massive infrastructure projects, I agree that there's no one else but the government to do it. Whether those projects are warranted is a different matter.

However, if we're just talking about university R&D, it's not clear to me that if it wasn't for the government that it couldn't be financed. A university attracts students (and thus financing) in large parts because of its research.


True. I believe the idea is more that Government does a TON of basic R&D, while private industry is not that good at doing 10-20 year programs while Government can do pretty decent things with it. I don’t think it’s an either/or, it’s more of an argument against deciding government should leave all R&D to private industry, which might not be as good at it as a superficial analysis might make appear.

I'm sure they do it, but I'm also pretty sure everyone else is doing it too, to some extent at least - FSB, NSA, BND, DGSE and Mossad were all previously accused of it. And not just industrial espionage, but also of providing contacts, logistics and actively lobbying in emerging markets for their national companies to get the best deals, which also often includes corruption and gray-zone private deals with local government officials. As someone who lives in one of those countries I've heard some pretty grim stories.

True. The analyst says the fusion centres model is relatively unique and quite “good” tho. He seems particularly impressed with it and how effective it is at “piping down” information.

Fascinating. Do you know any recent good books that cover the topic? I'm thinking something like Browder's Red Notice, but for China. Misha Glenny delved into China in his McMafia, but it was more about smuggling in the Fujian province, and its governor at the time: Xi.

Actually just realised. The CyberSecPolitics blog has book reviews. The guy clearly knows what he’s talking about so I have no qualms saying he probably can do better book recommendations than I can.

Thanks, I'll take a look.

I don’t know of any books. This talk was in featured in a blog called CyberSecPolitics which I follow.

So govt bureaucrats are driving innovation? To the point where they create market leading mega corps. Is that the claim?

Sounds like magic if you have ever met government bureaucrats.


You are thinking of bureaucrats in the western world. These are eunuchs working under the thumb of political appointees within the context of democratic politics. They are hedged in by expectations that they are there to perform a public service. In China, the people exist to serve the party, so there is a role reversal when it comes to who is in charge. This is how/why the government is able to force companies to come together and share their secrets.

Think about DARPA and their competitions.

> I heard it described by an NSA analyst in a very interesting talk.

Is this talk available somewhere? I would like to hear that!


https://cybersecpolitics.blogspot.com/2017/04/fusion-centers...

Here it is, just found it. My description was completely from memory so I hope I told the story right!


It was in a great blog by a guy who seems to be former NSA or similar - CyberSecPolitics

Looking for it right now tho is beyond my capabilities - I am on mobile and it’s 4Am where I live..

Most of the talk is centered in which cyber capabilities each country has and how they use them. He said interesting stuff about the Russians allowing a lot black hat hacking to go on - as long as it’s directed elsewhere. Then the state uses them agaisnt adversaries when needed. Lots of interesting stuff.


You and the original poster have described the exact way China has, up to this point, effectively leveraged a balance between state directed means of production and corporate capitalism. It is simultaneously brilliant and terrifying. The real question is how long the communist state apparatus can restrain their desire for absolute control. If they can maintain this balance for the next 20 years, China may become the dominant superpower in the world. However, if they cannot control the party's baser instincts, the Chinese economy may collapse under its own weight within the next decade.

This makes me think that the whole IP sharing/stealing is in the cultural fabric of Chinese business dealings. And it would be nearly impossible for Trump to fix it through his current trade negotiations.

Cultural schmultural. They're in a place where it makes sense to do it, they're pragmatic, they do it.

The US industrial revolution was kick-started by IP theft as well: https://www.history.com/news/industrial-revolution-spies-eur...

Would you do any different if you were in charge of a country and your people need to eat? "Sorry starving peasants, we must respect international IP law"?


Fascinating story. Thanks for sharing. It does put the Chinese example into perspective...

> Would you do any different if you were in charge of a country and your people need to eat?

They do it, and most of their people still can't afford to eat.


Most of the Chinese can’t afford to eat?? That’s a pretty bold claim. Evidence?

Someone explained to me recently that it might be that part of Trump’s strategy is that by cutting off technology transfers and attacking Chinese IP theft (ie “fusion Centers”) he wants to block China’s way into high tech entirely.

>here’s the talk

It's at 36 minute mark


Well, your comment reminded me of DARPA.

This just completely ignores the massive sums of money Chinese companies are spending on R&D. I'm sure that China engages in industrial espionage, as do many countries, but chalking up China's development into higher-value-added economic sectors to espionage leaves out the fact that they now spend more on R&D than Japan, Germany and South Korea combined.

There comes a time when stealing and integrating IP is not worth the effort. See the 5g development thats going on, where Huawei is undisputed king from what i gathered they are outspending R&D the next two competitor combine. Off course they will now also receive a lot of patent licensing income. Now that 5g is being rolled out..

The most informative comment I’ve heard about Chinese business is that one needs to take the western conception of state / military / corporation and chuck them out the window. In essence these are all descriptive functions of the same entity in China, and any apparent separation is just that—apparent.

I know some may reply that, for example, Lockheed effectively lives at this nexus also. It’s a good argument, and probably similar though not exactly the same in arrangement.

To me, the most interesting difference is that China has this kind of relationship with its major players regardless of industry, not just their defense contractors. So it doesn’t matter if you make cell phones, video games, toilet seats, ship hulls, or concrete—the whole concept of an enterprise not being interdependent on the state is a non-starter there. Whether it’s happening via backchannels to party officials or through ownership schemes like this one, the concept of private and public sector is so muddy there as to be almost meaningless.

To me, this tells us a lot more about IP infringement and espionage than what we usually read, because where the west likes to conceive of corporations as competing in a market in China it’s more useful to describe corporations as tools of statecraft.

Huawei wants us to think of them as competing with Apple because they both make cellphones. In reality, it’s as though the CIA or Mossad was competing with Apple—the aims of each may in fact be orthogonal to each other because market performance is not the real driver of the company’s decisions.


It's important to note that this deep integration of corporations and the state is by no means unique to China - to a great extent, Deng Xiaoping's modernization in the 1980s emulated the chaebol of South Korea and the Keiretsu of Japan. Korean and Japanese business is based on tacit relationships between extremely large vertically-integrated corporations and the state while China has more overt elements of a command economy, but the effect is essentially the same.

The least cynical reading is that it's an expression of neo-Confucian values; those in a position of political, military or economic power have a broad belief in the importance of cooperation and "social harmony". If the NSA want to access all of Google's data, they hide an implant in a data center, put optical splitters on key fiber links or bribe a third party to provide a backdoor in a vital software dependency (PRISM and BULLRUN). If the PLA want Tencent's data or the NIS want Samsung's data they just ask for it, on the understanding that a) they're not really in a position to say no and b) cooperation with the state is a mutually beneficial quid-pro-quo.


> or the NIS want Samsung's data they just ask for it, on the understanding that a) they're not really in a position to say no and b) cooperation with the state is a mutually beneficial quid-pro-quo.

Er... just to clarify: Samsung was deeply inter-wined with the government before(from the 80s to ~'17), I’m not sure if NIS has actually requested Samsung’s data but I suspect Samsung could give out such data.

However most companies don’t; for example, the biggest chatting app Kakao (think as WhatsApp in the US or WeChat in China) refused to provide information; opened the fact that NIS requested info to the public; and revised the chatting system to only save the message for 3 days in the server and added a end-to-end encryption mode.

Just wanted to point out that South Korea’s situation is less like China but more like the US.


South Korean companies undoubtedly have greater legal recourse to challenge the government, but I am unpersuaded that the chaebol exercise that right particularly often. The impeachment of president Park does indicate an appetite for change, but South Korea has a long history of corruption, cronyism and state-sanctioned monopoly abuse.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaebol#Criticism


I feel that if the NSA were to ask for much of Google’s data right at this moment there isn’t anything Google could do, and I’m not even that sure that they would want to do anything. The same goes for FB. If they decide not to comply then both of these companies might risk being broken up or worse, so why risk it?

The bottom line is that if you decide doing anything against the current US powers that be (like harassing a Senator from outside his house late at night) do not use any of the services coming from companies directly liable to the US authorities. The same goes if you’re in China or Russia, try not to use the services of companies directly liable to those countries’ governments if you want to vigorously protest the current political status-quo.


This past week a woman yelled loudly about stabbing Mitch mcconnell in the neck outside his house as part of a large crowd. It became a hot-button topic but no one fell out of an 8th story apartment window.

The NSA does not have a mandate to do what you’re describing, they face extensive civilian oversight and programs like their metadata collection were extensively debated in public. Are there exceptions? Yes; but they don’t have the same mandate or the same powers of control as some of these other nations, so the effect is vastly different.


> they face extensive civilian oversight and programs like their metadata collection were extensively debated in public

Most democratically elected representatives don't know what the NSA is up to. The Director of National Intelligence directly lied in his public testimony when asked about NSA collection. It took a whistleblower to reveal even the basic outline of the NSA's massive surveillance powers, which the civilian population was unaware of. That whistleblower now has to live in Russia, or else he'd be rotting away in jail, or worse. The metadata program was only extensively debated after those revelations, and we civilians are still in the dark about what the NSA does. I don't trust that they've stopped their mass surveillance of Americans. A massive organization that acts with such little oversight is a danger to democracy, regardless of what it claims in public.


>This past week a woman yelled loudly about stabbing Mitch mcconnell in the neck outside his house as part of a large crowd.

Presumably people protesting against Putin or the people from Tiananmen Square weren't all asking for peaceful elections, I bet there were some protesters among them who were literally asking for Putin's or Deng Xiaoping's heads, that's what I meant with "vigorously protest". It's understandable that some people in the US would want to "vigorously protest" against people who they think are directly liable for other's people deaths, as I presume that lady thinks of the likes of Mitch Mcconnell.

As per the NSA mandate and the "civilian oversight", that's what I meant with "right at this moment". I think what you're describing was generally true until 2 or 3 years ago (yes, even after the Snowden leaks), but I'm afraid things are not the same in the current political climate.


This is untrue. If the NSA could just ask Google for it's data, it wouldn't have had to create all the clandestine spying programs that it needed to steal the data from Google. Remember all the info we learned when the Snowden leaks came to light.

And we shouldn’t believe for a second this isn’t already happening with multiple three letter agencies.

Perhaps... but when you walk into a US company there’s typically not a “party” office on the first floor and I’m not talking about the place where everyone eats cake.

Nope in the US it is room 641A - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A

Aren't we always dependent on US companies? Same for Chinese companies? Think about it for a second. If you use the Linux kernel, you use world-wide code. Its at odds with a concept of monolithic, national code.

The concept of state and corporation should be separate to protect freedom is really a US phenomenon or ideal.

In East Asia, the Japanese model, that later adopted by both South Korea and China, relies on the exact opposite. The government directly involves in guiding and shaping the economy. And they are smart in doing so, with the corporations being their vehicles to implement its policy and they are ones to picking the winners. So it is not like Planned Economy like the Soviets did, instead they are trying to embrace and take advantage of the market to better advance its objectives. Instead, here in US, corporations are more sensitive and faster than the government to propose new economic initiatives, while government just sits aside as the shepherd to prevent disasters.

If you ever being able to read material from CJK countries, the government in general has a much bigger power and responsibility, and when problem happens, the societies' instinct is to push the government to act on it.

But Huawei might be still a special case among of these. It is a weird company though, which doesn't need to respond to its share holders and yet participating actively in open and competitive markets.


> The concept of state and corporation should be separate to protect freedom is really a US phenomenon or ideal.

Not even in US this phenomenon is very strong. US protects its corporations with political and military means all the time, so I am not sure what separation you are talking about. In words there mightbbe some pretense for separation, but actions show otherwise.


"To protect freedom"? That is the US catch-all argument and doesn't really say much. Whose freedom, from / for what, and what about other factors?

To me from Western Europe the state and corporations are... comparable to families and sports clubs. Nobody would want to merge them for tons of reasons including personal freedom (here: separation of public and private spheres), effectiveness, responsiveness, avoidance of conflicts of interest etc. But coordination makes sense.

Something I have noticed about large Asian companies is that there is much less in-fighting between parts of the organization, which can make up for other disadvantages they may have. In large Western corporations it seems to be everyone against everyone in mid-level management. At the lowest level it mostly looks like inexplicable inefficiencies and stupidities.


> large Asian companies is that there is much less in-fighting between parts of the organization

Not true. My observations are opposite, however, I am not disapproving what you said, but I don't think there is a conclusion to make.

However, if you prove yourself as a capable strongman that doesn't take objections, then in Asian companies, under the certain circumstances/directives, I believe you can have much more dictating power over your subordinates, which can go to great extent to have them sacrifice all other aspects of their life except work.

For example, Tencent carries out a stunt to have its staff run a 24 hour 2 shifts schedule to deliver PUBG on the mobile devices, to beat its competitors on speed, which I don't think is possible in Western countries.

source: https://xw.qq.com/cmsid/20171212A0E8UP


Video game crunch in western companies sounds comparably bad TBH. Search for all the drama around unending crunch hell of Fortnight development. If anything 997 seems to formalize and provide and at least provides upper limit on exploitation.

Should this be "996", or is this a new thing where there's not even one day off?

Maybe Asia (I actually meant CJK) is an overgeneralization. I have worked with Korean companies and I have friends who are employed by Japanese companies.

Isn’t Tencent also infamous for running teams against each other by having them build competing products?

>Freedom

Freedom for the government to do what it wants with the help of corporations, and for individuals to decide to join those activities and participate freely.


What's interesting to me is, even with this construct in place, the government can still intervene if they'd like. So, isn't it just a facade ? At least with china, I clearly know what I'm getting into (albeit not a good thing).

Similar concepts existed in Europe in various forms such as dirigisme, Fascism, Keynesian economics, the German post-war model.

That is not true at all.

There are state-owned companies, and there are private companies. Competition is intense.

The links of private companies with party officials is not caused by some cultural difference that makes boundaries fuzzy but by plain old unchecked power and corruption: The Party can make or break you so you need to stay on "friendly" terms with them.

This tends to happen everywhere there is no separation of powers and rule of law. In China it is simply perhaps better organised (or perhaps not).

A corollary is that being a Party member is useful for one's career. The Party also recruits as a way of keeping control.


To some extent has been true for every big country that has successfully become a first world country after the WWII devastation. After the WWII Japan, South Korea, and Germany all had trade policies where the government coordinated closely with big export sector companies. Japan was famous for copying everything. Japanese businessmen toured western factories as potential customers with cameras, went home and build the same factory.

The trick to success is to expose companies to free competition in the global markets while protecting and supporting them in every other way. State aid in financing loan guarantees was the norm. Protecting home markets from competition was the norm.


Do you have any further information on how this was done in Germany? It’s nit something I’ve heard much about before, and is contrary to what I imagined.

One example is that Volkswagen used to be state-owned until 1960. Afterwards, the federal state of Lower Saxony still kept a stake of slightly more than 20%, which combined with the requirement for 80% shareholder agreement effectively granted them a veto. That only changed in 2013 after it was found to violate EU regulations. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Act

Carl Zeiss AG and Schott AG are owned by a foundation managed by the science ministries of the two German states where Zeiss was founded and where it is currently headquartered, a structure which has its origins in the Zeiss firm's original incorporation in 1889.

Well the Japanese might have copied the product, but they surly built a better more efficient factory than the one that served as inspiration.

Not instantly. First Japanese made shitty copy factory that was behind the west and produced low quality products sold cheap. "Made in Japan" was brand for cheap knock off products for a long time. Japanese cars had a reputation of being easy to break "rice cups" even in the 80's. Gradual improvement and climbing up the value chain happened in Japan, then in South Korea and now it's happening in China.

Asian cultures have this idea that you learn from the masters by copying them. After you master the previous state of art you start to improve upon it. When you laugh at stealing copycats you fail to see the constant gradual improvement.


Doc: No wonder this circuit failed. It says "Made in Japan".

Marty McFly: What do you mean, Doc? All the best stuff is made in Japan


Not if you know how the Japanease did it to 50's they basically took the modern production management ideas that Ford et all rejected and implemented them

Also a lot of western cars in that periods where not so hot - the Austin Allegro for one


Depends on whether or not there is something to copy...

Perfect example: Aircraft carrier operations.

The US has painfully acquired the expertise and skills over half century. Thousands of aviators and sailors have died over decades until the current level of expertise has been reached.

Chinese have studied and copied everything. They translated USN carrier vessel flight deck manuals into Chinese and adopted it almost verbatim. Even the colors are the same. That's really smart thing to do. Trying to innovate and do your own thing starting from scratch because you have the false sense of pride and need be different would be stupid.


It is closer to a century USS Langley in 1919: https://www.navsource.org/archives/02/01.htm

Isn't the US Navy colliding with container ships because their pilots are sleeping at the wheel? Use it or lose it.

The US Navy had to innovate on carrier operations, because there was nobody to copy it from.

Market performance is not the real driver of the company’s decisions.

Every company has different stakeholders, who have different interests. The German state of lower saxony has a 20% stake in VW. That doesn't mean that VW does not compete with other car makers.


Also it seems disingenuous to act like boards of US Fortune 500 companies aren't filled with ex-government/intelligence/military staff that play a role in aligning the company's interest with the government's interests.

It's soft power that results in similar outcomes. Look at Theranos's board, it's not as unique as people think when compared to other majors...


Usually power is flowing the other way there though. Those people are on those boards so that they can influence government, rather than the other way around. I'm not sure if that's better or worse, though.

The gov influences companies through economic and legal incentives (subsidies, large gov contracts, etc..). This is especially true in important industries (energy, health care, tech).

Does having a large % of ex-gov/mil/intel board members increase the likelihood of a company landing these contracts? I wouldn't be surprised, if true (for many reasons).


It goes both ways. A favor, now you owe me.

I'd like to elaborate on the unity of the different elements of Chinese society you mention.

Chinese institutions are all unified under a single structure, and that structure is the Communist (in name only) Party. Party members are embedded in every single important facet of society. Education, the military, the government, the private sector, it's all linked and unified by the party.

Now, we can compare this structure to the mammalian neocortex. The neocortex incorporates inputs from lower layers of the brain to form high level abstractions and integrations.

The West is basically functioning without a neocortex. Our institutions are not unified. There is no integrating layer above the corporate sector and government. In fact they are often at odds.

What I am saying is that China represents an existential threat to the entire project of the West. If China is able to outcompete us with their more advanced (?) organization, we will be forced to copy them or become irrelevant. This would mean doing away with free democracies and instituting a ruling party - a neocortex - to oversee the entire society.

I am not sure this would even be possible in diverse societies like those of the Western democracies. There is too much infighting and tribalism, at least right now.

That does not bode well for us.

But it's possible that cultural unity within our democracies may be sufficient to align the different parts of society to allow us to compete with China, without the formal superstructure of an all powerful Party.


I'm pretty conflicted on this topic.

On the one hand, I've heard that authoritarianism is soul-crushing and I've been raised to believe that individual freedom is paramount. On the other hand:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metasystem_transition

I keep coming back to this idea of a society united by a shared telos that cuts across all racial and religious divides, acting together as a tightly-integrated social organism, a large-scale collective agent. What if this is the next stage of human evolution? Is there a way to embrace integration without stifling the uniqueness of the individual?

There's that fear of a Borg-like outcome, where diversity is annihilated by assimilation into the collective. But I was recently reading "The Phenomenon of Man" by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (originator of the Omega Point[1] concept) and this quote stuck out to me:

"In any domain -- whether it be the cells of a body, the members of a society or the elements of a spiritual synthesis -- union differentiates. In every organized whole, the parts perfect themselves and fulfil themselves."

So perhaps integration doesn't necessarily mean the erasure of the individual. Food for thought.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega_Point


I agree the east asia approach is better if it works in the ideal situation.

The problem is everyone is not perfect. Power and wealth corrupts. And even if we are lucky to have the ideal situation at some point, no one can guarantee the next.

That's why we need separation of power: a system with checks and balances. I think as of now we don't have a equation to make the perfect system, but democracy is proven to be the best we've got so far.


> On the one hand, I've heard that authoritarianism is soul-crushing and I've been raised to believe that individual freedom is paramount.

You need to be aware that you're buying into a persistent pro-Western, anti-China propaganda.

If you survey a random sampling of Chinese citizens, the vast majority of them would in no way find the system they're living under "soul crushing". Yes, people of Xinjiang and Tibet live under brutal paramilitary rule and those issues have gained special salience in the West but they represent a tiny fraction of the Chinese population. If you happen to be a political advocate or trying to shed light on human rights, then the Chinese government is not a pleasant adversary (although again, the stories in the West focus solely on the worst cases. I know plenty of Chinese NGO workers who are fighting the good fight while playing enough by the rules that they've forged a productive partnership with the government). But, for the median Chinese person, the weight of the government rests pretty lightly on their shoulders as they just want to have economic opportunity, raise their children well and enjoy their lives.

I tell people that, in many ways, life in China is much freer than life in America. The Chinese system looks totalitarian from the outside but, from most facets, more closely resembles ungovernable anarchy. The CCP has been likened to the Eye of Sauron, overwhelming it it's power when it gazes on you but can only focus on a limited set of concerns at any one time. There's a reason why the air that the leaders breathe in Beijing continues to be extremely polluted and it's because the power the CCP has in Beijing province over factory owners in neighboring Hebei province is, by design, so limited that even Beijing Rulers can't clean up their own air.

For day to day life in China, there's a real sense of mind your own business, to each their own indifference which is both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. People renovate their houses in crazy ways and their neighbors don't care, I've seen empty concrete shells transform into functioning business in a matter of weeks as there's very little red tape you need to comply with. There's regularly blue trucks on the road that visibly fail China's emission regulations and are the cause of the bulk of the vehicle pollution but it doesn't matter because the trucking company knows how to pay off the right inspectors.

If you speak to most Chinese people, they're generally in favor of more government, not less because they feel Chinese society is too 乱 (messy) still and the government hasn't reached far enough into people's lives to provide enough of a civilizing force. That's one of the many reasons why, despite Social Credit being so derided in the West, it has largely broad support from within Chinese society.


Of course "everyone" "agrees" in a place where everyone who disagrees is jailed or killed.

It might be true that after 100years of exiling and stifling dissent, the remaining Chinese and brainwashed youth fall in line. But the adults who escaped (currently aged 35+) tell a very different story.


Not the OP, but; yes, living in a society where human-traffickers can work in broad day-light because everybody is only concerned by their own business. I must be living in my pro-Western delusion in thinking that's not right. Sure, the Chinese system is the product of its people, its culture and thousands of years of history. So comparing it to Western system by simple looking into the authoritarianism vs free-speech & democracy aspects is a bit unfair.

For China, the system works by organizing the chaos by a strict rule, governed by single ruling party. In West, there isn't a similar chaos to be organized and most people behave quite amicably. Thus, strict oversight is not needed and instead decision-making can be distributed to the people, by allowing them to have their own way of influencing the policies and how injustices should be fixed. It's a bit like a difference between two types of swarm intelligence. In the other the actors are chaotic, and need a strict rulership. In the other, the swarm is more self-organizing and decisions emerge from the swarm through its individual actors. I know, not a very accurate example, but you get the point.

Furthermore, when Westerners think about authoritarianism we tend to look it from our own perspective, our own history. We have had our own share of dictators and authoritarian rulers, which none have worked for the benefit of the people. So it makes sense, that we would not think positively about a system which is by design, authoritarian. So while for the Chinese authoritarian means organization, for us, it means suppression of the population and killing of dissidents for the sake of keeping the ruling party in power.

And if you look further down history, we have had "good" authoritarian rulers like Frederick II or Charlemagne. Yet, we have abandoned those systems for the sake of parliamentarism and democracy. So why? My guess is, that once the basic needs of the population are satisfied we become less and less satisfied with the "small things". Small things meaning here corruption, free speech and worker rights for example. Once the general opinion becomes that "this thing is not right" the people require change, and if the system in place (here authoritarian or democratic) does not allow for that thing to change, the people will protest. Which is why all authoritarian systems, instead of exposing the system's weaknesses or problems, tries to hide them in order to sustain peace. In democracy the system works by _counting_ on people to expose those problems and that way, keeping the rulers (politicians) in check. Which in some cases fail miserably, when the general population becomes so deluded by the mass-media brainwash, that they can't anymore think for themselves and what's good for them.

But, I mean. Every system has its flaws. The purpose of the government still should be about the benefit of the people. When it stops doing that, it has become nothing more than a machine to keep the rulers in power and to suppress the general population.


> In West, there isn't a similar chaos to be organized and most people behave quite amicably. Thus, strict oversight is not needed and instead decision-making can be distributed to the people...

I think the term shalmanese used, "ungovernable anarchy," is a fair description of Chinese culture. However I think you are mistaking this to also imply non-self-organization - which would be inaccurate.

Chinese culture values pragmatism over consistency. As a matter of pragmatism, the Chinese are cognizant of working cooperatively with other people in order to better obtain their individual or their respective families' goals. Families that work together survive together. To this end, in Chinese culture, people do often help each other out and look after each other like family. The Chinese aren't as unsophisticated ("non-amicable") as you think.

In this culture of ungovernable anarchy, individual agents grow up to be highly autonomous adults. You can see this manifested as immigrant Chinese entrepreneurship in places all around the world from America to Africa. The self-organization aspect of this culture are manifested by the numerous Chinatown communities in cosmopolitan cities around the world from New York to Montreal. These communities aren't led by any all powerful authorities - they are self-organized ghettos, sociological gems.

> instead decision-making can be distributed to the people...

Jordan Peterson once said something along the lines of how the more we clamor for autonomy, the more we also internally desire to be controlled - or something of the sort. I wish I could find the clip since I butchered that.

However, I'd say there are abstract kinds of tyrannies that people subject themselves in America. An example is how Americans are taught to follow laws, regulations, or processes even when they are inefficient, wrong, or don't make sense. The Chinese people are more willing to avoid these formalities because they may be more confident in deciding for themselves what makes sense.

In this way, the Chinese people can be said to have more freedom than Westerners because they don't subject themselves to a certain form of other people's control. Such a contrast makes Chinese society seem relatively like a self-organizing "ungovernable anarchy".


No. Simply no.

There is no anti-China agenda. There is however an anti-medieval agenda, it has less to do with China as such and more to do with the mindset of the society and the ruling of the state. Most other societies have been through this already. China will also eventually.


May I ask, how much time have you spent I'm China?

I have had the opportunity to visit China multiple times during the last few years. Have met many wonderful people there. However, what makes me uncomfortable is the society. I have been in many countries where you get scorned as a foreigner. China is the only place where I have encountered that people treat you as you do not exist. Obviously, this is not something that only applies to foreigners; it’s a view of humanity that is very far removed from the rest of the world. I find it chilling to be honest.

In what context were you scorned? I've been to China a number of times (though not in the last five years) and found locals curious and very friendly. This was not, however, in a business context - purely as a traveller who knew a bit of Mandarin.

You're assuming the centralized "neocortex" model (i.e. communism/socialism) is more effective than the distributed model (i.e. marketplace/capitalism/crowd sourced). Who knows, at this point, but the next decade will be very interesting to watch.

The problems of the centralized model is that it is in fact implemented in a distributed setting: there are breakdowns of nodes, there are broken messages, and there may be adversaries who take advantages of their positions.

China is not Communist or Socialist though. They are basically fascist, or if you want to be strict about the definition of fascism they represent an entirely new form altogether.

Doesn't communism and socialism eventually lead to fascism though? It's an inherent flaw in these ideologies. They are too optimistic and fail to account for the basic human nature that a show of weakness will immediately be capitalized on by a more aggressive party. It's a cynical take but humans have always been a kill or be killed species, and modern day capitalism has been the most successful system at controlling our worst impulses.

I don't understand your thought process. If you have a system where a corrupt organizer can end up amassing power uncontrolled, then sure you're going to end up with dictators. The system is self-selecting for a catastrophe. But this does not really say much about humanity in general.

The trick is to design systems with checks. Well-run states have these checks, both in the state organizations themselves and towards other sectors. Even if you're rich, there are limits to what you can get away with in a Western society.

And yes, these checks are not perfect, defending against corruption is really hard.

As we get better at automation, unless we screw up in the Western world, I have a hunch we're going to end up with universal income and a Star Trek-like society, probably not that far from what Marx imagined when he was ranting about the horrible conditions for factory workers at that time. The trick is to make everything so cheap that the universal income is affordable for society.


Bigger corporations are indeed highly influenced if not outright owned by the state. But smaller businesses like these mom-and-pop shops and young startups certainly are not.

Thank you for posting. The OP was informative but a few more points of nuance like this are needed for good surface level understanding. For me it's useful to remember also that people can see the issues themselves differently there for cultural reasons.

As a side note, ironically it seems like going for short trips there can sometimes illuminate less than reading on the subject or just knowing someone here with a foot in each culture.

I don't hear much geopolitical talk during business meetings nor while buying things at the market. I recommend buying a friend in the US (or wherever you live) lunch a few times. It can be a highly time-efficient way to digest the big picture and also subtleties.


I think this is a perfectly reasonable analogy. It’s not controversial to say that defence contractors in the US operate at the behest of the US government. The government uses national security to control their IP and dictate who they’re allowed to do business with, ensuring that their commercial activity is aligned with policy objectives. The Chinese government effectively has that level of control over their entire economy.

Right, except that you don't go to prison if you're running Northrop Grumman and refuse to bid on a project. But I agree that enough cash effectively guarantees they will.

Yes.. there's actually a board inside Huawei of state communist officials which Huawei refuses to divulge what decisions they are in charge of and how much control they have. They say it's a non-issue because all large chinese companies have such a board.

I learned this from Huawei's answer to the House Intel Committee in 2012. That committee produced a report which began Huawei's problems operating in the US: https://stacks.stanford.edu/file/druid:rm226yb7473/Huawei-ZT...


Having an official branch of the Communist Party inside a company stems from the days when they were a workers' party and needed to keep contact with the base. Huawei being unable to explain the formal decision-making powers of those representatives is unsurprising, considering that there are almost no formal rules to the arrangement. What matters is the informal function as a go-between. If the company wants government assistance for a project, they know who to ask. If the government wants the company to do something for them, they know whom to tell about it.

And yes, that applies to any company incorporated under Chinese law, even subsidiaries of Western companies (say Microsoft Research Asia, or Google China). How much power those representatives have depends on whether the company is willing to listen to them or not.


would you classify Tencent on the same level as Huawei? And if so, does that mean most American youth are plugged into League Of Legends & Fortnite, a Chinese Surveillance system ? lol

Absolutely, but remember that they aren’t prevented from making money or conducting legitimate business just because they answer to the party officials. It’s not worthwhile to spy on teenagers wholesale, but they might pull the logs of a senator’s kid and we would never be the wiser. Also, owning some of Western popular culture is a decent geopolitical chip. Maybe it’s not as great as a nuke, but China can use popular video games to raise the next generation of kids to be more friendly to China. Just having the idea “I like the things that come out of China” in billions of brains can increase China’s share of global GDP and power.

> Also, owning some of Western popular culture is a decent geopolitical chip.

Tencent is co-producing the Top Gun sequel, and Maverick's jacket no longer has either the Japanese or Taiwanese flags on the back:

* https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/a28479683/

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Gun:_Maverick

> Maybe it’s not as great as a nuke, but China can use popular video games to raise the next generation of kids to be more friendly to China.

K-pop seems to be helping Korea:

* https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/2/16/16915672/what-is-kpop-...

Though they're not a totalitarian state. I think if people get too friendly or sympathetic a couple of articles will bring reality back:

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organ_harvesting_from_Falun_Go...

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xinjiang_re-education_camps

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989_Tiananmen_Square_protests


Which part of China is not a totalitarian state?

I think that it should have read something like:

K-pop is increasing South Korea's power worldwide, although it might not be a fair comparison since SK is not a totalitarian state like China. If people get too friendly with China we will eventually be reminded of China's bad track record with human rights.


Hong Kong, so far.

they seem to be working on that.

Taiwan.

Reading about the drone strikes on civilians does not make me dislike the US. Similarly, reading those links does not really affect how I feel about China.

The hope for the future is that amoral opportunists like this will be a small minority.

I did read both of them and my opinion did change.

Do you see how meaningless this type of argument is?


Yea if you want to change the world, reach out to the next generation?

Remember all those other generations of people living in crazy societies with crazy ideas? People's values, behaviors and loyalties are basically imprinted on them during childhood. There is an Einstein quote where he talks about how 'most people can't even form their own opinions' and he is right.


>There is an Einstein quote where he talks about how 'most people can't even form their own opinions' and he is right.

QED


Haha, I know what you mean.

>There is an Einstein quote where he talks about how 'most people can't even form their own opinions' and he is right.

Pretty much Nietzsche was the only guy who said you could make your own values.


> Just having the idea “I like the things that come out of China” in billions of brains can increase China’s share of global GDP and power.

Also known as the Japan strategy. Many have tried to emulate it, it’s very hard.


I only doubt that to the extent that the American subsidiaries have independent org charts. If news came out that Tencent were removing the position of Riot CEO or had mandatory libraries that Riot programmers had to use, I’d be pretty concerned about that.

I for one absolutely put Tencent on the same level. One is software and user espionage and the other is hardware. Same coin.

As a Chinese lived in mainland China for 20 years, gotta say all you guys are overestimating the authoritarian.
eschaton 11 days ago [flagged]

Nah. There are literally historical and current events you’re not allowed to talk about in China without being arrested and charged with a crime or even disappeared. That’s not an overestimation, that’s the very definition of authoritarian.

As someone who just came from China after living there for nine months, I think the better way to put it is this: you can talk about whatever you want, but if you make an effort to organize, initiate, or participate in a public discussion concerning a taboo topic, then you are putting yourself at risk.

It's the appearance of an organizing that is really taboo. Of course please take my opinion with a grain of salt. I am a foreigner who was there less than a year.


A young girl (10? 12?) was a famous streamer than sung a line from the national anthem in a sing-songy way and was jailed for 'making fun of the nation anthem'. You can see the exact moment she realizes she messed up.

advchina/serpentza/laowhy86 are the canaries in the coalmine atm.


Well, let's find out. Is this a true statement or not?

China has no freedom of speech, the press, religion, or assembly.

Also, is there a firewall that prevents you from accessing portions of the internet your government doesn't want you to see?

(I've never been to China but this is what seems to be reported.)


> ... overestimating the authoritarian.

Sure:

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xinjiang_re-education_camps


For perspective, there are 2.3 million African Americans in prison.

Absolutely a travesty, but still you're engaging in false equivalency. The difference in being jailed with or without some legal process is significant. Study up at https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-... and acknowledge that the US's score of 86/100 is a far cry from Canada's 99, but worlds ahead of China's 14.

Freedom House is a US charity though. Looking at any other report will still show China much lower in the ranking but the US also not really looking as good as the land of freedom might see itself.

How about a look at Reporters without borders, which ranks press freedom:

US #48 (behind Botswana, Child and Romania)

China #177 (of 180, so only ahead of Eritrea, NK and Turkmenistan)

Or this HRW report will be an interestjng read: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/unite...


After 350 years of economic and social terrorism, I would say it's fair to say most of the AA people in jail did not have a fair legal process, they couldn't afford it even if you ignore the combination of systemic/overt racism.

We have to remember there are two justice systems in this country and re-introducing slavery through the prison industrial complex was something we deliberately did without good reason.... not in response to dangerous extremism like in China.


There are 2.3 million Americans in prison.

For perspective, you can critique the US government(s) (state/federal) and say that this is a bad thing, and you won't disappear. I doubt you can critique the Chinese government about the re-education camps.

Here's a major presidential candidate on the topic:

* https://berniesanders.com/issues/criminal-justice-reform/


> These camps are reportedly operated outside of the legal system; many Uyghurs have been interned without trial and no charges have been levied against them.

This is a fundamental difference (and yes, America has detained people indefinitely without trial, but I would condemn that _too_, and they are a small minority of prisoners).

Furthermore, there are ~2.3 million _people_ in prison, of which 40% are black (39% white, 19% Hispanic).



WeChat has authoritarian roots.

League of Legends censors the phrase “Xi Jinping,” in English, in non-Chinese regions:

https://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/93f04k/just_found_o...


Does it censor Pooh-bear though?

And recently Reddit too, right?

TikTok & Snapchat as well. Youths are more prone to getting radicalized too, which would be useful for the Party's geopolitical goals.

No. What's being floated in this thread is an absurd premise.

By that premise, Norway controls Microsoft and Apple because they own part of the companies via their sovereign fund. Microsoft by itself of course is worth as much as Norway's entire fund.

Snapchat is a publicly traded company, of which institutional money representing primarily US investors controls the dominant position in the company.

Reddit is minority owned by Tencent, they hold a small share of the company. If you own 5% of a company the size of Reddit, you have close to zero control over the company.

Tencent also does not own a controlling interest in Epic. Tim Sweeney all by himself is estimated to control more of Epic than Tencent does.


Don't let arguments stand in the way of paranoia!

The only reason it seems absurd is because the level of interconnectedness in today’s society and the various entities in it is simply unprecedented.

While there may not be a grand conspiracy, it isn’t too far-fetched to suggest that organizations that specialize in espionage, sabotage and propaganda can figure out, or may already have figured out, how to pull the various levers at their disposal to achieve their goals.


The fact that your well reasoned comment is downvoted shows how bad the Chinese hysteria has gotten.

Oh, give it time! Wait for the Chinese economy to be 2x the American one.

>By that premise, Norway controls Microsoft and Apple because they own part of the companies

Even so, Norway's political/ideological/moral objectives are in line with the west's. There is a difference between the Norwegians having some influence in something, as opposed to the Chinese.


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kharak 11 days ago [flagged]

That's the most out of touch American thing I've ever read on this site.
pergadad 11 days ago [flagged]

Norway is not s socialist state, it's a social democracy. Please do read up a bit on the difference as it's quite relevant to understanding politics today and in particular the confusion/conflation of concepts that are pushed in US discourse.

In a nutshell, the idea of social democracy is that you cannot have a democracy without ensuring all your citizens have the basics to live decently - food, healthcare, housing. It's a basic responsibility of the state that no one is left behind. This is very different from the concept of Socialism (as it is understood in the US context) which much more aims towards equalising.


" know some may reply that, for example, Lockheed effectively lives at this nexus also."

Probably similar for Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, Dyncorp, Navistar, and others as well.


Arguably Palantir as well.

And in Europe, BAE and Airbus.


Marxists have a term for what you're describing: "state capitalism."

I've seen the term 'market socialism' used when describing China's system.

Market socialism, as fare as I'm aware, is defined by social ownership of the means of production. State capitalism would definitely be more appropriate to describe China. Especially in the marxist sense of the term.

edit: I spoke with a Chinese student once, whom preferred the term dictatorial capitalism.


>social ownership of the means of production

Slightly off topic but can you clarify what 'social ownership' means, exactly? I've been trying to figure this out for a few weeks now. I just ask since you seem to know.

Wikipedia says, "The two major forms of social ownership are society-wide public ownership and cooperative ownership." What's the practical difference between 'society-wide public ownership' and government ownership? The government is supposed to represent the people.

What's the practical difference between 'cooperative ownership' and corporate ownership? A corporation is just a group of shareholders, often including millions of individuals and employees of the company.

e.g. In America the government owns parkland, and people can use it. Is that 'social ownership' of the parkland? Or 'government ownership'? What's the difference?

e.g. In the West, many corporations are owned by millions of shareholders. Sometimes the majority of ownership is ultimately from small shareholders, largely through pension funds. Is that 'social ownership' or 'corporate ownership'? What's the difference?

What are some existing, real, sustained examples of 'social ownership' in real history?

I feel like this term is either super general and not particularly meaningful, or it's one of those cases where the definition changes according to the argumentative needs of the moment, or it's just a euphimism for government control without a practical difference.


>What's the practical difference between 'society-wide public ownership' and government ownership? The government is supposed to represent the people.

Typically, socialists (and even market socialists) contend that the current democratic establishment does not represent the people, usually going off Lenin's conception of "bourgeois democracy". This is also behind the most common Marxist rejection of achieving socialism through non-revolutionary means. Compare, for instance, how Lenin described what he figured Soviet Socialism would turn out to be - control by the soviets, not by the state. Of course it didn't really turn out that way, and in Economic Problems of the USSR, Stalin effectively admitted as such.

>What are some existing, real, sustained examples of 'social ownership' in real history?

This is a difficult question because one would either have to draw from pre-capitalist modes of production to answer the question, or one would have to argue that the USSR/Stalinism implemented such social ownership. I have already described why the second is not appropriate (see here[0] too) but the first is also not appropriate because "social ownership" is not a transhoistorical term, it was intended to describe a future mode of production in which it is one of the components of socialism (market or otherwise) - its applicability, therefore, does not encompass pre-capitalist or capitalist modes of production. For the notion of the critique of transhistorical categories, see Marx's discussion on the "Robinsonades"[1] and Patrick Murray's argument on Marx's improvement over David Ricardo and Adam Smith[2]. That said, you would probably have to look deeper into anthropology to find if such a society did indeed exist - that is to say, a society in which as far as we can tell today the will of the producers themselves was actually reflected in the ownership and control of the means of production and its products.

Finally, a note: Marx himself, to my knowledge, never used the term "social ownership". In fact, his argument against Proudhon was that plain "social ownership" results in a state where "society becomes a general capitalist". The term was used by Engels once, but he quotes Marx as follows:

>Marx assumes on page 56 “a community of free individuals, carrying on their work with the means of production in common, in which the labour-power of all the different individuals is consciously applied as the combined labour-power of the community[3]

As such, I tend to avoid using the term, as do most academic Marxists.

[0] "On the Question of Soviet Socialism" (2011) by Paresh Chattopadhyay, a rejoiner to David Laibman's thesis of the USSR having achieved "formal" socialism but not "real" socialism; (Chattopadhyay doubts that it even achieved "formal" socialism in the Marxian sense). https://www.jstor.org/stable/25769087

[1] https://marxism.csbs.utah.narkive.com/qeQK04SD/marx-on-robin...

[2] "Marxs “Truly Social” Labour Theory of Value: Part II, How is Labour that Is Under the Sway of Capital Actually Abstract?" Historical Materialism, Number 7 (Winter 2000)

[3] "Anti-Dühring" by Frederick Engels (1877), chapter XIII. Dialectics. Negation of the Negation; available here: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1877/anti-duhrin...


I think an example of social ownership would be in Karl Marx own family. Karl Marx was cousins with son of the founder of the Philips N.V. through his mothers sister. In the first 100 years of Philips , a lot of decisions made by the Philips family had social underlying motives.

Building affordable housing, sponsor of sport accommodations reflected some of Marx's reasoning with respect to sharing profits with society.

A century ago the silicon valley of the world was around the Philips factories and then somebody came in and decided to move the whole company to another place.


Okay this post went on a little longer than I intended, partly because social ownership is a fairly broad concept, but I hope it answers some of your questions:

The point of social ownership ought to be that the people who either work in or directly rely on the organisation are the people who have meaningful control over it. This immediately excludes any kinds of pure owner who may never interact with the organisation other than for having decision making power over it and extracting profits from it.

Where worker co-operatives are concerned, an important aspect is that workers should have equal say (in the sense that voters in a democracy should have an equal say) over their organisations. Where corporations have 'one share, one vote', worker co-ops are 'one worker, one vote'. Of course in practice the nature of this varies - in smaller co-ops, the workers tend to have a more direct say over the operation of the organisation and in larger ones are more likely to just be able to elect board or committee members at the overall level, and more direct decision making for their organisational unit. All of this happens while workers retain all the same rights and privileges they'd be afforded at a traditional corporation such as the ability to leave and change jobs if they want to, so they get to have their cake and eat it in this respect but the cost is arguably more responsibility in the form of taking informed decisions.

A couple of examples of longer lasting worker co-ops: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondragon_Corporation - large international co-op from the Basque region of Spain, in business since 1956 https://www.suma.coop/ - an equal pay worker co-op which has been operating since 1977

There are also other kinds of co-ops such as consumer co-ops where anybody who shops at a co-op can become a member. You also get community co-ops where residents directly, jointly own their own local accommodation or amenities. Some co-ops are hybrids.

The co-op group in the UK is a large, long running group of consumer co-ops which have been going since the 1840s: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Co-operative_Group and they have nation-wide businesses including retail, energy, funeral services and so on.

Sometimes it may be one of the above types of ownership or a combination. Co-ops usually adhere to a set of principles called the Rochdale principles: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rochdale_Principles which define various rights for members and ultimately a culture that co-ops should adopt.

Building societies and credit unions are another form of social ownership where those saving with them are the members:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationwide_Building_Society - nationwide is a UK-wide building society dating back since 1846

Government control, where there is a functioning democracy, can be a form of social ownership. It is just a very dilute kind. It's easy for your voice to get lost in a sea of millions, but that does not mean it isn't there - things like FPTP and the electoral college notwithstanding... Everything owned by a democratic state would be "sort of" social ownership; just a very weak, undesirable kind that puts too much power in the hands of a small group of representatives. Nevertheless, there are certainly some cases where it makes sense such as things which are natural monopolies like water sources, rail networks and indeed in the UK the NHS enjoys wide public support.

In that respect, municipal/local council control is also a form of social ownership but is much closer to home. Municipal libraries, public parks, public restrooms and such for instance are very much in keeping with the principle of social ownership. Municipal socialism as a specific aim has become a goal of some places, for instance in late 2018 Preston was named 'most improved city' in the UK after following a programme with this aim ultimately by leveraging local institutions to improve the area: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/01/preston-nam...

When it comes to social ownership I think sometimes something gets lost in translation, like you get some people who seem to think that just nationalising everything fits the bill - but the truth is that the model you have to choose has to fit the problem the organisation is supposed to be solving at the right scale. Having your local park managed by a centralised state authority by somebody who has never visited is probably a horrible idea in pretty much the same way that having it managed by somebody who only wants to profit from it but has also isn't particularly attached to its use as a park for residents may be a horrible idea (or certainly would be seen as such by those residents, at any rate). All of these approaches are appropriate tools for the goal of enfranchising communities and workers to have decision making power over things that affect their lives provided they're used right.

Nevertheless, none of this matters if you're otherwise operating within the confines of some highly authoritarian nation-state that in practice can totally take the reigns of your organisation, effectively disenfranchising members or constituents from making decisions.


Xi calls it “socialism with Chinese characteristics”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism_with_Chinese_chara...


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Would you please stop using HN for ideological warfare? This is not what the site is for, and it destroys what it is for.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

_iyig 11 days ago [flagged]

Another word for it might be, “national socialism.” Many more parallels there than with Marxism, in my moderately informed opinion.

Would you please stop posting flamebait to HN? We've already had to ask you this recently. We ban accounts that keep doing it, so please stop.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I don’t have a way to convince you that I’m posting in good faith, but for what it’s worth, I guarantee you that I’m not trolling or seeking to cause disruption.

As others have pointed out, the traditional Western concept of the private-public division doesn’t exist in China. It is in fact similar to historical economic conditions in fascist Europe; specifically, the state-controlled labor unions (and ban on private unions), mandatory party cells within private companies, military involvement in commercial enterprises, and synthesis of the one-party state and a market economy.

I understand that some in the HN community are allergic to comparisons between fascist systems and contemporary societies. I understand they may downvote and flag such comments, and that this creates headache for you. I’m sorry for the headache. I don’t think I’m wrong, and I think my comment was a perfectly valid point to raise. If the sensibilities of HN readers and moderators will not tolerate it, then so be it.


The problem is with tossing classic provocations like "national socialism" into a thread without insulating them from what will otherwise be the classic effect: flamewar. If you have a thoughtful point to make, that's of course fine, but you need to pack it in flame retardant, because you're in a highly flammable zone here. Just as you'd take extra care with a campfire in a dry forest, or with matches around a gas station.

OP is not saying China is Marxist. He's saying that some Marxian theorists call what in China "state capitalism." I.e. not socialism, but capitalism administered/mediated by the state.

This is by no means universal though. Other Marxists would call it a "degenerated worker's state" or "bureaucratic collectivism" or just "Stalinism"


Truth is that we know that Apple, Microsoft, CISCO and pretty much all the US corporations cooperate with the US intelligence services. Of course Huawei competes with Apple(among others) and CIA/NSA compete with their chinese counter-parts. Now, some of us are not very into communism so we rather prefer the US surveillance to the chinese one but make no mistake that the US corporations can't make their own choices when it comes to National Security. They have to obey the law and really they don't mind a powerful US government, why would they?

So in China, the government owns the corporations, while in the USA, the corporations own the government.

Not quite. In the USA the corporations own the people. In China the state owns the people (there is not much government to speak of).

Thanks that was very insightful from a western pov

In short, China is an advanced fascist state, with total integration of industrial success into the state (but privatized industrial failure).

So I suppose a "level playing field" is never going to happen.

How are US companies supposed to compete against such state backed corporations?


well two different answers depending on who you ask. Someone who leans towards free market ideology will say that China's state assisted capitalism is sclerotic and that picking winners and losers is ultimately bad for China and will turn out to be a drag, or alternatively by doing the same thing, which already seems to happen with the realignment on trade on both sides of the American political spectrum with Trump on the one hand and Warren's 'economic patriotism' on the other.

The next question would then be whether anything like this can be pulled off in the US at all, which entirely lacks the sort of corporate social structures you find in Asia but also say Scandinavia or Germany.


> most informative comment I’ve heard about Chinese business

So it seems like the whole comment is a repackaging and a commentary on someone else's opinion. I think it's an interesting thought exercise but it's also hard to derive what should one take away from this after reading.


The comparison to the CIA and Mossad is rather absurd. Huawei has grown because it has been able to offer similar or better networking equipment as competitors for lower prices. Recently, it has also been able to produce smartphones which are arguably superior to the iPhone and cheaper. In other words, they clearly are trying to outperform their competitors in their key markets. They're growing rapidly because they've succeeded in doing so.

> Huawei has grown because it has been able to offer similar or better networking equipment as competitors for lower prices.

You mean flat out copy Cisco and then undercut them in developing markets? In the early 2000s i remember seeing a Huawei manual that was a legit photo copy of a Cisco IOS manual with just the names blocked out.


They "flat-out copied" an implementation of strcmp. Not exactly Earth-shattering. Not as serious as copying, say, the entire Java API.

Any evidence they copied Cisco hardware? Did they copy anything substantial?


You've accepted they've copied Cisco's manuals for one of their products yet question if they've copied Cisco's hardware... ?

Huawei's infamous approach to "acquiring technology" is undisputed. Literally ask anyone in the industry. Look at how they've ruined Nortel. See their behaviour at trade shows, taking apart competitors equipment to take pictures of their schematics. The evidence is out there, why don't you sift through? You might find a pattern.

I'm curious to know why this is all so hard for you to believe.


In the same way that I accept Google copied Oracle's max function. If that's the worst that anyone can pin on a multi-billion-dollar-revenue company, it's pretty squeaky clean.

The Nortel accusations are completely evidence-free. Nortel collapsed because of the bursting of the tech bubble, mixed in with a fair dose of "creative accounting."

> I'm curious to know why this is all so hard for you to believe.

Because there's zero evidence for any of it. There's a general impression that's been created by American media about Huawei being a spying operation, but no evidence.


I've read your other responses and while the points you make are reasonable, it's "obvious" to many that a certain threshold of belief has been crossed, most notably by industry insiders. There are far too many accounts of Huawei's behaviour that leads one to suspicion. You don't need mass media for this. Read the countless first hand experiences here and elsewhere. Unless of course you believe they're astroturfing.

I haven't read any such accounts, although I constantly hear people saying that Huawei is a shady company. The media campaign has worked, and everyone just knows Huawei to be shady - just nobody is quite sure why. That's why I ask for specific cases, but all I ever get in response are the same two or three minor incidents from a long time ago. This is in contrast to other major tech companies that people generally find respectable (Samsung, Apple, Google, Microsoft), which have engaged in far more serious documented cases of IP theft over their histories.

> Because there's zero evidence for any of it.

There's all the evidence in the world if you want to see it. I you don't, there is none.


This isn't really incompatible with GP's point. It's really hard to be a global telecom spy network when you're nobody wants to buy your equipment because it's overpriced and low-quality...

In fact, that would give the beneficiary government a lot of incentive to advance your interests with something like a state-sponsored IP theft program and massive subsidies


If you make things up, anything is possible. How about this possibility, which is actually supported by real, known facts?

Huawei began with simple equipment they could manufacture cheaply, made money, and have invested in R&D to move up the value chain. Recognizing that Huawei is an important Chinese tech company, the Trump administration is holding it hostage in the trade negotiations. Americans are now being bombarded with piece after piece of vague innuendo about the company, insinuating (without any evidence, of course) that it's secretly a state-owned spying operation.

That's another possibility.


I honestly haven't seen conclusive evidence that Huawei has spied or been asked to in the past. Alas, imo, that's irrelevant because I'm aware that Huawei would not be able to turn down a spying request and continue to exist as a company.

That Huawei has engaged company-spondored IP theft has been widely reported, as well as the fact that the Chinese government widely disseminates the IP it obtains via forced technology transfers that are required to do business in the country.


Actually, it is seriously disputed, because there's no evidence that Huawei has engaged in more serious IP theft than most other major tech companies.

The same examples are always trotted out. Huawei copied some extremely minor Cisco code over 15 years ago, and the two companies privately settled the issue, and Huawei engineers took pictures of the "Tappy" robot and took some of its fingertips a few years ago. If you compare these relatively minor incidents to the types of disputes other major tech companies have had, they're nothing. Google wholesale copied the Java API, and internal emails showed that senior executives knew this was potentially a legal problem. Samsung copied the design of the iPhone. Microsoft Windows' UI was largely cloned from Macintosh. The list goes on. Yet Huawei, which hasn't had any major IP disputes of this sort, is somehow the problem.

> the Chinese government widely disseminates the IP it obtains via forced technology transfers that are required to do business in the country.

This is not how things work in China. First of all, technology transfer is not required in most industries. Second of all, the companies that transfer technology do so willingly, because they believe access to the Chinese market is worth it. The Chinese government didn't put a gun to their head and tell them they had to open a factory in China. They benefit from cheap labor in China, and in return, China benefits from technology transfer. Companies wouldn't agree to this if they didn't regard it as a fair trade, and I don't see why it's unreasonable for a developing country to set these conditions on foreign investment. But again, these regulations don't cover most economic sectors.

However, I haven't seen anything to suggest that Huawei has benefitted from this sort of technology transfer. Again, claiming that Huawei has just looks like baseless innuendo, like so many of the accusations against the company.


Spot on. It is really important to understand that China does not have the same value system as the enlightened world. I am not saying that the sino mindset is inferior in any way, but it is important to realize that it is very different and that many premises we take for granted are null and void when it comes to China.

The Chinese state of today is far worse than the most dystopian views the west had of Soviet during the Cold War. Then the western block tried to paint as a dark image as possible of the alleged enemy. Today it seems most try to paint as an rosy picture as possible of the Chinese state when in reality it is something right out Orwell’s nightmares.

Note. I have absolutely nothing against Chinese as individuals and people. It is the state that is scary, and to be honest; intimidating.


Have you visited China? It doesn't feel as dystopian as you may think. I don't mean to say that everything is fine, but on the other hand regular people don't seem to live in fear of their friends or children spying on them for the secret police like they were in the GDR.

Do they live in fear of getting shot at grocery stores? I hear the crime rate is dramatically lower than ours.

Yes, I have visited China on multiple occasions during the last few years. It has been an utterly chilling experience. I know xenophobia when I experience it, and South Africa during Apartheid was actually better.

As usual with China we are focused on the wrong issue and asking the wrong questions.

Who owns Huawei is irrelevant, who ultimately controls Huawei is the issue, but it’s a simple answer, the Chinese Government.

I was in China on business, we were meeting the one of the largest and most successful tech companies in China. We were meeting with the Chairman/CEO and his team. Everyone was introduced except one man, everyone basically acted like the guy wasn’t in the room. He just sat and listened until he heard something he didn’t like, he quickly took over the meeting, admonished the CEO, and insisted they we do as he said. For the remainder of the meeting the CEO and his team sat head facing the conference table, it was clear they were all terrified.

Once the key parts of the meeting were decided this man got up and left, the meeting quickly ended. I tried to get my Chinese colleagues to explain what happened, but everyone just blew me off.

A couple days later we were in Taiwan, and I got the full story. The man was the party official who guided the company. The guy made sure that the Chinese government’s interests were followed.

It’s China, thinking about things like it’s the West is stupid. Everything is owned by the government.


It annoys me to no end how much beating around the bush there is on this topic; particularly on NPR. They have the kid gloves on and pundits that won't come out and say the obvious.

"But why the concern about Huawei and not Facebook and Google". Because they are controlled by a fascist government, a point we have largely been ignoring for decades while they weren't the 2nd largest economy?! Recently they had a guy on saying the USA intelligence/military community saw China as the biggest "strategic challenge" in the future. I'm PRETTY darn sure they mean and have said "threat to national security". He was also insinuating the the idea we couldn't coexist with their government was absurd because we "have been since 19xx". Well, were they the second largest economy in 1950-20xx? No they were not and their soft power plays are becoming much more bold.

It's almost like the NPR and the media have given up on the ideals of liberal democracy? Good grief.


It annoys me more that Trump gets credit for "standing up to China" where is is bumbling into a poorly executed trade war that will disappear when his daughter gets more under the table trademark deals for her purses.

The scary thing about Chinese approach is that it seems actually working.

It hasn't been shown to work that well yet. Most quality innovation and research still happens in free-er countries.

Communist innovation ends when you run out of other people's intellectual property.

I laughed, but this is not true. The Soviets had brilliant scientists but were mostly disastrous at engineering and manufacturing. The Chinese on the other hand... Remember, they're not really Communists - Marx would be turning in his grave.

Of course it works. It didn't work in the past because most autocracies were led by low IQ people. When you factor that out, you get a system that works.

I detect a not-so-subtle racist twinge in this comment...

This sounds more like an urban legend than an actual event.

If you are casting doubt on the poster then outright call him a liar and explain why. Otherwise...

> I was in China on business

...assume goodwill and take him at his word.


Ownership does not mean the same thing in non democratic states. The law and incorporation rules are always an approximation of what's applied in reality, but it is much more so in authoritarian states.

The real two questions are those of profit distribution and actual power, as in the ability to effect change. The latter is always constrained by the ruling party, no matter what the incorporation rules say, and no matter what the former (distribution of profits) is. It was the case in Soviet satellite countries too, except Soviet states were also harsher on profit distribution (communism).


The crux of the difficulty at understanding Huawei's ownership system is because Ren Zhengfei modeled it as a Maoist collective ownership mechanism, an alien concept prone to misreading from a private ownership premise, and at the same time it is facilitated by existing private ownership laws.

Employees do indeed not own the company nor shares of the company in a private ownership sense because they cannot liquidate their shares if they wish to quit the company. But it is the very same design that makes the company immune to pressure from outside investors and the financial drive to capitalization, and enables it to fully reinvest all profits back to R&D and employee dividends, which is also a major reason for its explosive growth. It is reported some early employees got paid so much from their shares that they just stopped working and went on vacation indefinitely.

If all profits of the production activities of a collective go back to its members and the continuation of growth of the collective, can you meaningfully claim the members of the collective do not own the assets of the collective and not control it?

This profit returning scheme is legally possible only by being facilitated by the Company Law of the PRC. And the way the company ownership is structured by a "trade union committee" is also legally facilitated by the Trade Union Law of the PRC. It is a fatal error for the paper to claim the company is state-owned because the controlling trade union committee of Huawei operates under the aegis of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions. In fact, all SOEs in China are governed by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions is not legally sanctioned nor capable to manage private companies. Then the best reading of all the contradictions would be that Ren Zhengfei managed to carve out of a space for communist collective ownership by "hacking" the existing legal system of private companies.


This should be the top comment.

So, in light of all I'm reading here about how much the Chinese state is really in control of their tech sector, can we still say that Bitcoin is decentralized?

Here is the current Bitcoin hashrate distribution:

https://www.blockchain.com/en/pools

(20%) BTC.com - owned by Bitmain, a Chinese IC design company founded in the first quarter of 2013, which specializes in research, development and sales for custom mining chips and miners.[0]

(12%) F2Pool - a Chinese mining pool, also referred to as "Discus Fish".[1]

(11.8%) Poolin - a multi-currency mining pool. Started by the founders of BTC.com.[2]

(11.6%) Antpool - also owned by Bitmain.

That's 55.4% of the network controlled by Chinese mining companies, which I would assume have a similar structure to Huawei?

[0] https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Bitmain

[1] https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/F2Pool

[2] https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Poolin


Huawei responded to this study, and the author responded to Huawei's response [1]. Salient point:

> Our bottom-line conclusion about what it all means is just our opinion. If readers disagree with our conception of what employee ownership means and prefer Huawei’s, that’s their opinion. As long as everyone understands what the structure is, what label one puts on it is not ultimately that important.

[1] https://thechinacollection.org/huaweis-ownership-huaweis-sta...


The interesting thing that after the paper was published Huawei launched a campaign about this topic

https://www.huawei.com/minisite/who-runs-huawei/en/

https://twitter.com/huawei/status/1157213584985751553


That twitter thread is awesome and sums it up pretty well. Half the posts are Winnie the Pooh gifs and if you go 1 - 2 followers deep on the other half, you're in a weird bot circle network.

I've been a major critic of China and Huawei, especially as of late and I am served SO many clearly propaganda posts from Huawei now. It's insane.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

(Of course one could also think this is a Chinese puppet account speaking :-))


So according to this, they are owned 88% by current employees. This should be very easily verifiable. Who is telling the truth here?

Huawei is a private company with an opaque management structure. None of its claims can easily be verified using publicly available information (nor can claims to the contrary).

Any Huawei employees want to comment and maybe explain the five principals and how they work for Huawei, in particular no 2 (Democratic Member Control ) and 4 (Autonomy and Independence )

The five principals (as amended there are now 7) are the key founding principals of ALL Coops


I've heard a similar observation phrased slightly differently to describe Russia. If you're looking at a large Russian company, it goes, you're by definition looking at a company that has come to some kind of accommodation with the state -- because if they hadn't, the state would never have permitted them to get large.

On the surface these state owned operations look similar but the results speak to the contrary. I think Chinese corporations behave more like a beehive and Russians like a wolf pack. The Kremlin chased out a lot Russians with academic papers. China on the other hand seems to be the place that facilitates the best startup opportunities.

This makes sense. Russian economy is much less dependent on talented work force, they have vast resources in proportion to their population.

If 3 million people with a master / Phd move out, your economy takes hit especially when the country's GDP is below the level of Italy.

> I think Chinese corporations behave more like a beehive and Russians like a wolf pack.

This is an old orientalist trope.


Do you have a reference for this? I'm the last to say this is an original idea and would like to read more about this.

And if you fall out of favour, your company gets taken away from you. See Khodorkovsky as an example.

Wasn't it more like "if you try to subvert current power and install your own puppets, all using money you stole with the help of current power"? I think in China they shot such people. In US/EU that would land such person on a few blacklists instead and certain portions of business would be hard to do.

They might become secretary of state tho

If they win; in the aforementioned example that person lost. I never understood why should I feel any sympathies to either crook just because certain powers used them for their own purposes.

they did become secretary of state, and many shady situations and abuse of power appear to have happened. I am inclined to believe the intelligence apparatus was turned against their political opponents unethically and perhaps illegally. They succeeded in this and so far they have gotten away with it.

Bill Barr has had the ability to declassify for 80 days, nothing yet. I expect nothing but covering up for the DoJ and Wray's FBI.


Also, see Alibaba

Absolutely correct. Jack Ma was smart enough to realize he had amassed too much wealth, power, and influence to remain in the good graces of The Party. He was, essentially, one step ahead of the firing squad (or at least a major state contrived scandal which would land him in jail for a decade).

This seems to be the opposite of the US system where, once you amass that amount of wealth, power, and influence, you get to control the major political parties.


Russia, according to famed Russian dissident Garry Kasparov, operates this way more as a mafia syndicate. Corruption allows the “oligarchs” to enrich themselves with the nation’s mineral resources so long as some of their power (and even money) remains at the beck and call of the don: Putin.

China is different. It’s not an oil and gas oligarchy like Russia or the Gulf states. It is somewhat like the US was during the Second World War—somewhat capitalist in form but almost entirely geared toward the strategic goals of the country, as dictated by the government. The main exceptions are that the US had elections intermittently and that the US was in the midst of total war. China isn’t at war though—it’s just a totalitarian society.


Or as Bill Browser described it:

"This whole exercise was teaching me that Russian business culture is closer to that of a prison yard than anything else. In prison, all you have is your reputation. Your position is hard-earned and it is not relinquished easily. When someone is crossing the yard coming for you, you cannot stand idly by. You have to kill him before he kills you. If you don’t, and if you manage to survive the attack, you’ll be deemed weak"


In Russia a theft of a company comes immediately after the initial start-up phase is over and company starts to post profits. Immediately noticed by tax office, groups of lawyers zero in and simply take it away from the owner. I was told about such an example from one high-profile Russian who escaped to keep his company alive. US entrepreneurs in China had similar experience; once company took off, they had to "share the technology" with some state companies that then produced the same thing cheaper and knocked the original company out. Kleptocracy is a proper term for both.

> once company took off, they had to "share the technology" with some state companies that then produced the same thing cheaper and knocked the original company out.

Without knowing the details, this sounds more efficient and potentially fairer for the society. It allows for information and innovation to flow in the industry, rather than a single company making absurd amount of money only because they can keep it secret.

It doesn't mean wealth is automatically better distributed, but it could help.


In general, this tends to kill innovation as nobody bothers starting anything new (no rewards, instead punishment for success).

I’d say there are pros and cons. One consequence of lax IP laws is that competitors will rapidly converge on the same set of popular product features. When everyone has the same set of features, innovation and the ability to distinguish oneself from the competition becomes a matter of life and death. Resting on one's laurels behind a warchest of patents is not an option.

This is particularly true of a playing field as large and as cutthroat as China, where at any given time there are thousands of competitors jostling for dominance of even the most minuscule of niches.


On Russia, Bill Browder's book Red Notice does an exceptional job of going into detail describing what you mention. It is really quite special.

You're dead on in your assessment of them.

> China isn’t at war though

Yet.


Maybe they’ve been at Cold War for decades but nobody else noticed.

Considering the constant attacks and theft over the last 50 years, wars have been fought over less.

So it’s claimed true for Russia and China. So what are the odds that it turns out it’s true of the United States too, and maybe it’s just easier for me to accept the other accusations based on brief HN comments simply because I’m from the United States and I’m used to hearing Russia and China described as enemies or opponents of the US?

I fail to see how this would by definition, not be true, in any country with any form of government.

Any entity that wields power, is a potential threat to a monopoly power holder (the state), and as a result, has to be collaborated with, or fought against.


What kind of accommodation? Most places have regulations and taxes.

Convince me this is any different in America.

If anything it's so much the opposite in the US that it's a problem. Private interests calling the shots and writing their own laws to the detriment of the country has become standard procedure. The supreme court effectively legalized all but "quid pro quo" corruption a few years ago. The US military industrial complex has become so full of rent seeking entities its a wonder anything is successfully developed anymore. Look at the history of the f-35, it's a clear example of the sunk cost fallacy being weaponized against the strategic interests of the country.

Seems like a lot of American companies have been working pretty hard to get around the sanctions to sell things to black listed Chinese companies. I would take that as pretty good evidence that American companies tend to be independent of the government.

Also it's just pretty clear in general who has what interests in large American corporations. You can look at the chain of command up to the board of directors back to the shareholders.


Why wouldn’t American companies that were not independent from the government circumvent sanctions? That’s like saying that no one in the US government would have ever tried to circumvent US drug laws.

It's just not. Look at Apple's fight with the government over unlocking the iPhone as a recent example. Can you imagine a company is Russia or China fighting like that to keep secrets away?

Didn’t Snowden reveal otherwise?

That if the government really wanted the information, the could just send a National Security Letter using Secret Courts.

Aren’t the fates of Lavabit and MCI demonstrations of that power?


Snowden didn't know everything then, and he knows even less now. Also, asking a company for data or even stealing the data through subterfuge doesn't make you an owner of that company.

Yet that's essentially what people are claiming with Huawei, even right here in this thread.

Huawei is not a state-owned enterprise, yet people are saying that operating in China, being subject to pressure from the Chinese government, makes it essentially state-owned.

Yet we know from Snowden that basically all the large American tech companies were secretly providing access to the NSA or had been pwned by the NSA. So far, there's no evidence that Huawei has spied on its customers, or that their products contain backdoors.


Pavel Durov did his best to prevent Russian government to obtain Ukrainian users' data, at Vkontakte.

And look how it worked out for him. It's hardly a counterexample to GPs point.

Do you know that this hasn’t happened in Russia or China? Are you suggesting that no company in Russia or China has ever resisted any demand from their government?

We know Apple has. If you believe there are Russian or Chinese companies that have acted similarly, that’s fine, but to convince the rest of us the burden is on you to provide some examples.

I disagree on where the burden of proof lies. I live in the US and keep up with US tech company news, so I would expect to hear about Apple’s conflict with the US government. I know of very few Russian or Chinese companies, and I wouldn’t expect to hear domestic news about companies in those countries having conflict with their government.

Note: the original claim is that companies in those countries DO NOT attempt to defy their government for similar information requests. I believe the burden of proof for that claim is on the people making that claim. I am not claiming that this has happened in either country. I’m only stating that I will not believe the original claim without seeing some evidence.


Russian social network Vkontakte tried to resist. The founder and CEO got fired, and the company was taken over by Kremlin associates.

> the original claim is that companies in those countries DO NOT attempt to defy their government for similar information requests. I believe the burden of proof for that claim is on the people making that claim

Surely you see the absurdity of that remark?

There are no substantial cases of companies in Russia and China where they have tried to fight information disclosures. Except for the high profile case of the social network in Russia... which is now under new, Kremlin friendly leadership.


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