October 20, 2014 by ...
Ok, ok you have probably all heard about Xiaomi, that little Chinese upstart stealing user data and shipping it off to Beijing’s communist cyber nannies. Of course that earns founder Lei Jun a Red Star, but then again he probably does not need it. After all, he is a member of the law making body of China’s illegitimate government that actually does not make any laws.
Confused? Well then you need some ‘China 101’:
– China is run by the communist party which has never held a real election. The current ‘mafia don’ is called Xi Jinping and back in 2008 I was told he would be China’s next leader and now he is. This place plans ahead.
-China is more adept at prestidigitation than that one creepy long-haired guy on late night TV.
-Beijing’s slight of hand includes infiltrating universities and media outlets and holding them hostage if they don’t play nice. If this does not work, the communist party merely attacks, economic sanctions the weapon of choice. Nobel Prize anyone?
All of this serves to anesthetize the rest of you who have never lived in China to the truth of what is going on here. The communists rule with an iron hand. In order to succeed you must keep the communist party happy, this is a fact.
‘So what does this have to do with Xiaomi,’ you ask?
‘Everything,’. I reply.
You look confused so perhaps I need explain more. Hold on because this may take some time.
Pay to play in China
A lot of companies come to China and earn loads of cash. What most people do not know, however, is how corrupt China is. Of course it benefits no one to say ,’Hey boss I just bribed a communist official so we could win that big contract!’ So they don’t.
They merely call themselves an old ‘China hand’, and accept accolades from their less than knowledgeable colleagues. This keeps up the charade and the wheels of commerce move along.
Books are written about Chinese culture and how to ‘Seal that Deal!’ with your Chinese supplier. Page after page they talk about not showing pictures of your kids because Chinese, of course, are only allocated one. You should also grasp a business card with both hands, but don’t bow, thats what they do In Japan.
What can I do?
Of course all those books do a great job of propping up faded photos of friends you have lost contact with, but does their value go beyond this? In a word, no.
Take it from me, I’ve been here long enough. If you want to do business in China, bring sack loads of cash and bribe. There, I just saved you ten bucks and you did not have to kill a tree to,learn it.
But of course bribery takes many forms, there are bribes of omission and commission. If I hand cash directly to that party head, it’s a bribe. Illegal in my country as well as his. If I hand over something else, such as user data, however, it is not. In fact, it may be my ticket to winning the communist party lottery, just ask Huawei!
Who has my data?
Based on all the data breaches in Xiaomi phones, the company must be making somebody happy. If not, why do they keep promising to patch the security problem but refuse to do so? The payoff must be worth the price. From India to Vietnam, security concerns abound and yet Xiaomi keeps on snooping.
The most skeptical Chinese say that Xiaomi sells user data in order to subsidize phone costs, but who knows? The answer could be as simple as Lei Jun is ‘party people’. He has seen the lay of the land and knows where Beijing’s butter is going and is moving his bread right underneath. Passing along your and my cell phone secrets is a small price to pay for access to a multi-billion dollar pie.
Oh but look at me, now I am being cynical, or am I? Where there is smoke there is fire and from where I sit Xiaomi’s engulfed in flames. A lack of transparency and disregard for customer security are not the hallmarks of a global icon.
Of course no one knows how deep the communist tentacles have dug into Xiaomi. For all I know they are just another company looking to make a buck. Any and all security breaches have a logical explanation, albeit not one which has been shared with the public yet, but that’s just a detail. Surely Xiaomi is a company in which we can place our trust, after all, any company who dresses their corporate mascot like a communist soldier can’t be all bad can they?