The bigger China picture

FEBRUARY 20 — If you take a look at the bigger picture, the Huawei situation is really about politics.

China is an emerging superpower, despite not having truly achieved developed nation status.

With its expansionary aims ― its South China Sea claims, for instance ― the current superpowers are now beginning to belatedly show the caution they should have exercised a long time ago.

The reality is this: that no China-based company can truly claim independence from the Chinese government.

If China says jump, all companies must meekly ask “how high”... and then apologise to the press later when found out.

That is how a few Chinese smartphone makers responded when vulnerabilities in their software, that sent data to Chinese servers, were discovered.

Our prime minister is blase about Huawei's involvement in our information infrastructure because he knows there is really nothing to lose.

Malaysia is not the US. We do not have companies with valuable IPs for China to copycat, nor will our state secrets fetch much on the black market.

However, there is a very good reason why US government employees on entering China are told not to use their cellphones and to destroy their temporary burner phones before leaving the country.

I doubt we have any such protocols because China is unlikely to be all that interested in the   workings of our government.

After all, our level of national intrigue was mostly overspending conmen and avaricious spouses.

Whatever is written by academics whose research is funded by certain Chinese companies, the reality is that when it comes to security, approach China with caution.

When people ask me if there is a smartphone brand I would recommend, I say if you're a civilian, just go with your budget and needs.

If you're in the government or have sensitive information interesting to foreign parties, maybe look to Korea, Taiwan or the US for your smartphones.

It's not fair to demonise Huawei for something it probably hasn't done... yet. But it is perfectly sensible to proceed in one manner, whatever the dealings with China — with caution.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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