Cross-border technology sharing with Chinese firms worries US defense experts

By Money Times

Nov 03, 2015 01:16 AM EST

The technology tie-ups between the US technology giants and Chinese firms have become a center of debate as the close business relations have under current exposure to sensitive defense technology. Security analysts express their concern about possible harm to the national security of the US. In association with US technology firms, Chinese companies are becoming self-reliant in defense technology triggering the alarm bells for the US national security.

For instance, one Chinese technology company gets technical guidance from a former People's Liberation Army. Another firm took care of electronics development on China's first atomic bomb. A third technology firm sells technology to China's air-to-air missile research academy. The common thread in all these transactions is involvement of American giants -- IMB, Cisco Systems or Microsoft-- as partners. 

On the other hand, US technology companies are upbeat on business potential in the vast Chinese market. For instance, computer manufacturer Dell Inc is working closely with Chinese companies in segments that the dragon countries deems vital to national security. 

Dell is also helping state-run company developing high-performance servers. Dell is also making its personal computers (PCs) compatible to Chinese operating system, which has been co-developed with a government defense school. Working closely with the US technology firms, Chinese companies are evolving from being makers of others' designs to innovators and exporters. This is also reducing China's exposure to the security risk of depending upon foreign technology.

According to a recent report from a security firm Defense Group Inc, IBM's partnerships in China are already impacting the US national security. As part of the global initiatives of the company being called Open Power, the technology sharing will pose a major threat to national security in the long run.

The report further said that "IBM is endangering the national and economic security of the United States, risking the cyber security of their customers globally, and undermining decades of US nonproliferation policies regarding high-performance computing."

However, these business tie-ups generally don't appear in the media. But, these have become a center of debate among the American defense experts and former US military officials.  The American technology companies have been sharing, licensing or jointly developing applications with Chinese partners. But this may harm country's national security, caution defense analysts.

Though the capabilities and joint development take place in a commercial way, the technologies involved in application development are crucial to defense. This would also help in increasing Chinese fundamental technological capabilities leading towards military research and operations, alert US defense analysts.

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