“I’m about to say something that people think is an exaggeration, but I think the evidence is pretty strong,” he tells me. “Every major company in the United States has already been penetrated by China.”
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“My greatest fear,” Clarke says, “is that, rather than having a cyber-Pearl Harbor event, we will instead have this death of a thousand cuts. Where we lose our competitiveness by having all of our research and development stolen by the Chinese. And we never really see the single event that makes us do something about it. That it’s always just below our pain threshold. That company after company in the United States spends millions, hundreds of millions, in some cases billions of dollars on R&D and that information goes free to China….After a while you can’t compete.”
Due to what seems to be a prohibition in fully disclosing intrusions by many companies, there seems to be less external pressure than one might expect on this issue.
My guess is rational shareholders would be up in arms over this if there was real transparency and we knew the true extent of these things.
And, of course, there are all the intrusions and security failures the companies themselves may not even be aware of.
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I anticipate a frame shift in discussing the movement of US manufacturing and industrial capacity to China, and our economic relation to the country overall – a shift from labor and human rights issues to concerns about challenges to the value of intellectual property long term national security.
It’s not that the labor or human rights issue don’t matter – they certainly do – just that things are much larger. It encompasses the self interests of corporations and our global economic competitiveness.
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