Monday, March 24, 2014

US Moral High Ground Completely Gone As China Demands US Stop Spying On Its Companies

from the nice-going,-nsa dept

Some people forget this, but the day before the very first of the Ed Snowden revelations, there were plenty of headlines about how President Obama was about to meet with China's President Xi Jinping, with a major focus of the talk being about how Obama wanted to the Chinese to stop their "cyberattacks" on US companies. An anonymous "senior White House official" was quoted at the time saying:
"We expect this to become a standing issue in the US/China relationship. We believe that all nations need to abide by international norms and follow the rules of the road and that means dealing with actions emanating from your territory."
Right. So, the very next day was the beginning of the post-Snowden era, and over the weekend we get the not-all-that-surprising news that the NSA hacked into Chinese firm Huawei. And, of course, today comes the inevitable angry demands from Chinese officials that the US "explain" itself over these allegations, and that it stop hacking Chinese companies.

While much of this is just expected diplomatic posturing, and there's little doubt that both countries regularly hack into each other, the US's holier-than-thou attitude over this whole thing is looking more and more ridiculous over time. As we discussed a few months ago, it's certainly not a surprise that the US is hypocritical, but much of its diplomatic success has been because it could get away with being hypocritical and pretending that it actually had the moral high ground. That's less and less possible now that the US's activities are more obvious than before -- and that limits the ability of government officials to actually pressure other countries into changing.

Of course, the obvious answer to this would be to stop being hypocritical and to actually live up to the ideals and concepts that we preach towards other countries. However, so far the US government has shown little evidence that it's moving in that direction -- and the end result are days like today, when the US government gets scolded by the Chinese, and has no moral leg to stand on whatsoever.

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