• Big Tech Grilled on Antitrust

    When the internet was invented, it was meant for connecting people by providing them with services such as email, websites, chatting, etc. But as the market grew, it became more of a tool for selling products and services. The tech companies which were initially in this industry also rose to dominance. Companies such as Microsoft and Apple were key players already when the computers were being invented, and when people shifted towards the internet to get their daily needs sorted, companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon provided them with easy solutions. But the question that always arose was why these companies are providing such facilities to the users free of cost. For me, the answer is that these tech giants use the personal data of the individuals who use their platforms and sell them to the advertising agencies. But never did we know, that there could be so much more to this.


    The top executives of the four tech-giants, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google were asked to testify yesterday at the House Committee via video conferencing. The charges against the giants are that these tech companies are meddling with the competition, antitrust, and fair play in the market and hugely affecting their consumers, competitors, and, small businesses. This was a bipartisan meeting and both the parties took turns is beating down the arguments given by the tech giants and accused them and their companies of behavior which can be termed as notorious and borderline illegal.


    There are severe charges against the tech companies for meddling with the competition laws, antitrust laws, and fair supply management in the goods and services that they provide. These companies were also accused of keeping the personal data of the individuals associated with these companies and using them for advertising and sales. The committee also accused these executives of operating as a private government, take of concentration of power to themselves and defy various international laws. While facing a myriad of such questions, top executives, such as Tim Cook from Apple, Sundar Pichai from Google, Jeff Bezos from Amazon and, Mark Zuckerburg from Facebook tried hard to maintain their cool and patience throughout the meeting.


    The House grilled the tech executives of the various charges, but some of the answers given by these leaders of the tech companies were found inconsistent with the facts and some of them were even hard to believe. There were serious allegations from the lawmakers such as stealing the research information for the cure of Covid-19, stealing intellectual property ideas from young entrepreneurs, ripping of personal information of minors and selling them to the advertisers, and cloning technology from startups and small competitors. There was no satisfactory reply presented by any of the four leaders of the tech industry. Lawmakers also accused the Big Tech of contravening the competition law and antitrust, and said that even if such practices are not unlawful, they are highly objectionable and borderline illegal. Even the European Union has initiated three cases against Google for such practices and the cases are pending for hearings. The Big Tech was also accused of benefitting their products using the user data that they have.


    In my opinion, there could also be a positive side to such competition. These tech companies spend billion annually on research and such annual spending on R&D is even higher than what is spent by the National Science Foundation. Even though these companies are accused of meddling with the fair competition, these companies themselves face intense competition from other companies in the tech space and other small competitors, and hence it can be safely said that these companies are not working like monopolies like they are accused of working because being monopolistic would mean cutting off the supply of goods from all other competitors and then affecting the price of the goods for one's profit. Another argument, which can be given in the favour of the Big Tech is that if everyone is using the same platform, there is less disruption in the market and this ultimately leads to social welfare and not making people's lives worse.


    I can say that the House should carefully study how the Big Tech is not confirming to the antitrust and how some changes can be brought in the law so that there may be a limit to the dominance of these tech giants. Also, this matter should be carefully dealt with and the authorities in my opinion need a scalpel and not an ax.

  • Chinese Retaliate over Consulate Shutdown

    This blog is a continuation of another blog which I wrote a few days ago when the US ordered the shutdown of a Chinese Consulate in Houston. If you haven’t read the previous blog, read it here.


    The Chinese have retaliated to the shutdown of a Chinese embassy in Houston in the United States of America by ordering a shutdown of an American Consulate at Chengdu in China. The Chinese Communist Party has claimed that it has taken this step in conformity of the International Laws.


    Last week, the US ordered the shutdown of a Chinese Consulate in Houston citing allegations of espionage and intellectual property theft by the employees posted there. This escalated the already tense state of affairs between the two superpowers. Since late 2019, there has been a raging trade war between the US and China and the US has continually accused China of corporate espionage by conducting state-sponsored intellectual property thefts, hacking of medical research regarding the development of Covid-19 vaccine, and stealing military secrets.


    China also cited similar reasons for the shutdown order of the US Consulate in Chengdu. The CCP also claimed that this has been done in retaliation of the unlawful action taken by the US authorities by ordering the shutdown of the Chinese Consulate in Houston. Chinese external minister Wang Wenbin claimed that the responsibility of this action solely lies on the US side as they have escalated the tension to this level and the Chinese never wanted the state of affairs to take such a turn. He also stated that this conforms to the basic norms of International Law as well as the diplomatic conventions.


    On the other hand, the US authorities said that the action taken by the Chinese authorities are against International Law and should take necessary steps in ensuring peaceful bilateral relations. The US flag at the consulate at Chengdu was lowered at 6.18 AM on Monday 27 July 2020 after the local police barricaded the consulate and intensified the security in the area.


    The US employees were disappointed over the tit-for-tat move by the Chinese citing that the Consulate officials have always stood with the people of Sichuan, Guizhou, and Tibet for 35 years. The Consulate opened in 1985 and has since been operational in the area.


    While the Chinese Consulate in Houston has been accused of burning important documents before the US authorities took control of the building when the shutdown was ordered. Critics and researchers say that this may point towards a big cover-up which the Chinese employees were trying to do there.


    The United States is gearing up for the elections this year and both the countries are dramatically increasing the distance between each other which was not possible before because of the advent of globalization. The US may try to put some serious sanctions over China over the charges of espionage, infiltration, and intelligence activities when the new President takes the office after the elections.

  • Shutdown of a Chinese Consulate

    Just in my previous blog, I wrote about how China is meddling with its territorial limits in the Himalayan region and drawing big flak from the international community. Today, there is news from the international community which seems to be one aspect of that flak only. The news is how the US has ordered China to shut down its Consulate in Houston.


    During the past few weeks, the tension between the United States is on a continuous rise. It initially began when the US decided to not to let Huawei build the 5G network in the country. This came as a crushing blow to China's tech market which was already wounded when India banned 58 major mobile applications. The motive behind the US banning Huawei's 5G infrastructure has been told to be privacy concerns which are raised time and again against all the Chinese tech giants. Very recently, France has also banned Huawei's bid to build 5G infrastructure on their land.


    One more reason cited by the United States in the order of the shutdown of the Chinese Consulate in Houston is the Chinese sponsored theft of Intellectual Property, which costs the US anywhere between $300 Billion - $600 Billion annually. One out of every five companies in the United States says that their IP was stolen by China in some way or the other. Apart from the theft of IP, China is also notorious in stealing trade secrets from the US and is many times caught running corporate espionage programs. Since the last decade, more than 100 of such activities have been reported to various authorities such as the FBI and CIA.


    The United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also told yesterday that the Chinese Consulate in Houston has been a hub of spying. It was also reported that since the orders to shut down the consulate released, there were a bunch of important documents that were burnt at the Chinese Consulate in Houston, for which a fire brigade was also called in to put out the raging fire. It has been said that China is taking an approach full of lies and deceit so that it could gain more world dominance and with such actions, it has also bit the hands that fed it.


    Mike Pompeo also called the world to end this blind engagement with China. He has also urged countries like India and Australia to take advantage of the trade opportunities in the APAC. He also said, "If we bend the knee now, our children's children may be at the mercy of the CCP, whose actions are the primary challenge to the free world."


    In its reply to all of this, China said that this move by the United States has severely harmed the relationship between the two countries and China will retaliate to give a befitting reply to the US. China is planning to shut down the US Consulate in the South Western city of Chengdu, which is in the Sichuan province. It is also planning to shut down the Wuhan Consulate of the United States because it has been left unattended due to the abandoning when the COVID-19 broke out there. US President Donald Trump has also ruled out that this will be the only shut down of any of the Chinese Consulate in the US. So there could be more of such incidents.


    It is just my remark but I feel that China is posing a threat to the free world and the various democracies all over. I feel that there should be strict sanctions that must be put against China so that the CCP understands that the entire world is not like Tibet of Xinjiang where it could do whatever it pleases.

  • China is Bullying in the Himalayas

    I have written so many blog posts about recent activities by China, that I think my entire blog has become just an anti-China propaganda machine. Just kidding. I love China. It's a great country with great food and great people. China also has some of the most developed cities in the world and the development index of the country is soaring in the charts. But I think these are the only things which I could say positive about China. Rest is just what you see on the news these days.


    There have been so many issues on which China has been in the news recently. But apart from TikTok, it's only about how China is bullying its neighboring countries and how the international community is taking a stance against China.


    Starting from Hong Kong, it was the first instance where China used excessive force in meddling with the basic laws of one of its Special Administrative Region. From illegal arrests and unfairly influencing the elections from Beijing, we have seen it all. Then we also saw how China was furious about the United States supplying arms to Taiwan.  China has always claimed that Taiwan is essentially a part of China and Taiwan has always taken an opposite stance by saying that it’s an independent territory. It’s quite evident with all the media articles that if some country disagrees with China, it stirs things up a lot for them.


    One such major incident which was all over the news during June 2020 was about how China is trying to seize land from India, illegally, from the Indian Territory of Ladakh, which is situated in the Himalayas. And this is not the first time China has attempted to do something like that in the Himalayas. On the night of June 15th, 2020, Chinese military personnel had a deadly confrontation with the soldiers of the Indian Army at the high altitude Galwan Valley in India's Ladakh region. The PLA personnel came to meet Indian Army officers and it was supposed to be a peaceful meeting. But no one knows at what point the meeting went sour and the PLA soldiers attacked the Indian Army personnel present there with the help of makeshift weapons.


    The Indian soldiers quickly retaliated to this situation and attacked PLA's personnel present at the Galwan meet by beating them to a pulp, disfiguring their weak bodies, and throwing them in the nearby Shyok River. An estimated total of 43 PLA's personnel died in this confrontation and the Chinese state-run media didn't even acknowledge the death of their soldiers. On the other hand, the casualties on the Indian side were far less than the Chinese, and the Indian media also acknowledged that it has lost some soldiers too, giving voice to their gallant acts that night, making them martyrs in from of the whole country.


    This is not the first time China has been a part of a confrontation with India. China operates through a policy of aggressive territorial expansion and always meddles with the neighboring countries in the Himalayan region. One such incident took place in Doklam, which is a trijunction area between China, Bhutan, and India. Doklam is a part of Bhutan, which is an ally of India. In June 2020, Chinese troops began constructing roads at the Doklam plateau, which is though a part of Bhutan, is falsely claimed by China. This region is very close to Sikkim, which is an Indian territory. Indian troops after a few days crossed the border into Doklam as a part of the Operation Juniper and confronted the PLA's officials present there. They stopped the troops in constructing the road and because of that, there was a military standoff between India and China which continued for around three weeks. Finally, in August 2017, both the nations withdrew their troops from the region, which by the international media, termed as a big diplomatic win for India.


    China is also supporting Nepal in the incorrect map put up by them which shows an Indian Himalayan territory a part of Nepal. The international media is saying that China is doing this because it is giving immense support to the communist party of Nepal by taking part in virtual meetings. The Nepalese Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli was also seen making bizarre remarks about the Hindu God Ram that he was a Nepalese and the capital of Ram, Ayodhya was in Nepal, which stirred a nation-wide criticism in India sparking comments from political leaders to the general public. Oli's such remarks could have been the reason that he is trying to woo the Chinese Communist Party to support him, as he is taking a stance against India and is also said to forget the religious ties between both the countries.


    Very recently, the US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said that China's actions in the Himalayan region are not acceptable. Pompeo also appreciated India for banning 59 Chinese applications and taking a strong stance in Galwan Valley. He also suggested India decrease its dependence on China in terms of trade and commerce and start diverting the supply chains away from China with regards to telecommunications and medical equipment. This statement has come just a few days after the US stopped all of Huawei's involvement in the development of the 5G infrastructure in the country owing to national security concerns.


    As I have already said before, China is operating through an aggressive territorial expansion policy for the past many decades. It has shown a notorious behavior towards the citizens of Tibet, which it had arbitrarily grabbed a few decades ago. It is only a matter of time when more and more countries would start taking a stance against China and someday China would have to stop taking such arbitrary measures to gain more land.

  • The Big Deceive

    While the pandemic is affecting millions of people worldwide, many people accuse China of a foul play in its role of spreading the virus. These accusations range from controversial lab activities to failing to contain the virus, the role of China during the time Covid-19 was on an initial rise has been suspected to be foul by many. We in this blog are going to take a deep dive into the country's role in the spread of the pandemic and will also see how the country might try to satisfy its desire for world dominance.


    I got this idea behind writing this blog when I saw in the news that a Chinese virologist fled to the US from Hong Kong. The virologist, Li-Meng Yan has accused China of foul play in its role with the handing of Covid-19. She, with many other expert virologists, was asked by the University to study a SARS-like virus that is coming out of Mainland China at the end of December 2019.


    After a few days, these experts at the University were not allowed to talk about it but on the other hand, they were asked to wear masks at all times. There was also a change in the tone of the people who were dealing with the virus, like the authorities and the other scientists at the University when they were asked about the virus.


    Yan, after seeing all this decided to pack her bags and leave the country for good. She took a flight from Hong Kong to the United States and left the country. She was chased by the Chinese government by asking her to shut her mouth about the news of the virus and various cyber-attacks were plotted against her. The Chinese authorities also thrashed her apartments in Qingdao in the hopes of finding a proof of her whereabouts in the US. They also questioned her parents about the same.


    This is not the first time China has been accused of foul play by its scientists. On 30th December 2019, a doctor at the Wuhan Central Hospital, Dr. Li Wenliang shared a message with his fellow doctors warning them about the outbreak of pneumonia of unknown origin and also advised them of wearing protective gear at all times when at the hospital. Later Li was summoned by the authorities for spreading false reports and disturbing the social order. He died of coronavirus after a month on 7th February 2020.


    China's role has been heavily criticized by many in the spread and handling of the virus. People also suspect China of deliberately spreading the virus so that the world order could be shaken, trade may be affected and China's medical equipment manufacturers could be given an upper hand in the entire scenario. This could only be confirmed if the world initiates an international level investigation against the country, and also if whistleblowers like Yan come out of the dark and speak openly about the truth.


    I am not accusing China of actually playing a foul act in the Covid-19 outbreak, but since there are so many people accusing the country of doing such a thing, I can only think where there is smoke, there is a fire.

  • The Deal with China's Tech

    No matter where you are in the world, you would be using some of the other Chinese technology right now. The past decade has witnessed immense Chinese influence in the tech market. The United States, which still in my opinion dominates the tech world, has only one competition in the consumer-based tech space, i.e. China. 

    During recent times, or during the past one month, we all have witnessed some incidents which have shaken the Chinese tech world bad. Recently, India banned 59 Chinese Mobile Applications including the wildly popular TikTok and WeChat, which by the way had a huge consumer base in India. Although, it is not a blanket ban, and the authorities are considering the written submissions by all these apps. The ban was put in place due to privacy concerns. Some critics are also linking this ban to the very recent Indo-China Border Standoff which resulted in Armed Forces casualties on both sides, as a measure of putting a 'Digital Strike' on China by India.

    The concern flagged by the Indian Authorities is privacy and data mining of the Indian users of those apps. The only question people now have in their minds is that are these apps really mining all the data pulled from the users of such apps? China has been very critical over this move by India, and on the other hand, China itself has arbitrarily censored the internet in its own country since the very inception of this technology.

    Recently, the US has also initiated sanctions on the Chinese tech giant, Huawei over the concerns on its close ties with the Chinese Communist Party. Critics have always had suspicions that Beijing could use Huawei to spy over other nations and Huawei has always denied this claim and said that they will never allow such requests from the PRC officials. Due to the recent sanctions on Huawei, it has been said that it won't be able to deliver 5G in the country. This along with the rising Anti-China Sentiment in India is not helping Chinese Tech-Space.

    China recently has seen deteriorating international relations due to the pandemic and the various border disputes it has are also a reason why this sentiment is growing. Also, Trump's vow to bring the manufacturing back to America and the recent Chinese labor cost rise is also a reason the tech space is suffering. Washington is also trying to provide a $25 billion stimulus package in the form of a reshoring fund, followed by Japan offering $2.2 Billion so that the country could reshore out of China because the tensions are rising between the two nations. 

    In my opinion, the tech space of China should be made independent from the Communist Party in power, so that the users in other countries could see the transparency in the mode of operations while maintaining the data by such apps. China should also open its doors to western apps such as Google, YouTube, and Facebook. This will give the Chinese people an option to switch over other apps in the market which are not based in China, hence increasing healthy competition in the international tech space. Since the Chinese tech space is taking a toll at this very moment, Beijing should understand the need for not censoring the internet for its own citizens. 

    Only the time will tell if China's billion-dollar tech space will sail through this mess or bite the dust by the actions of other nations.