Home / China / View

Snowden nails US lie on its economic spying

By Chen Weihua | China Daily | Updated: 2014-09-13 07:42

The US government is an expert at taking the moral high ground when it comes to justice. But instead of being apologetic after the devastating revelations made by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in June last year, its top US officials, President Barack Obama included, have been claiming that the NSA has been doing exactly what every other nation does.

That the US surveillance program is the most expansive and intrusive in human history has had no bearing on their thinking. They arrogantly ignore the fact that its targets include not only American citizens, but also people across the world, as well as international organizations and world leaders, some of whom are close US allies.

As if that was not enough, the US has been accusing the Chinese government of sponsoring cyber-based economic espionage in a bid to benefit Chinese companies. Although it failed to provide any concrete evidence in this regard, the US Justice Department took another brazen step in May, charging five People's Liberation Army officers of conducting cyber espionage to steal commercial secrets from US enterprises.

For long, the US had claimed that the NSA didn't engage in economic or industrial espionage. But after Snowden exposed that the American intelligence agency was actually spying on Brazilian oil giant Petrobras, it soon changed its wording, saying it doesn't conduct economic espionage to benefit US businesses. That, the US says, is its major difference from the cyber espionage carried out by countries like China. Such statements have been made by Congressmen, think tank pundits and commentators countless times in the past year while trying to single out China as the villain in the world of economic espionage.

But the new revelations made by Snowden last Friday and carried by The Intercept, a news site created by Glenn Greenwald, who first reported Snowden's case for The Guardian, tell a different story. Secret documents show the US government has devised a secret plan to carry out economic espionage exactly for the benefit of American companies.

The 2009 Quadrennial Intelligence Community Review, a report issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, expresses concern over the potential challenges US companies could face from multinationals based in other countries, including China, by 2025. In one potential scenario, it anticipates the US could face a "China/Russia/India/Iran-centered bloc" that challenges US supremacy. The report suggests using cyber operations against research and development centers in foreign countries and then assessing whether the findings would be useful to specific US industries.

Such a strategy is based on an intelligence assessment that the US is losing its lead in technology and innovation and this could pose one of the greatest threats to the world's only superpower. Specific areas listed include IT, nanotechnology, energy and medicine.

The solution suggested by the NSA in 2009 was to launch a program that targets corporate secrets through undercover surveillance, such as planting malware and spyware and gathering technology information by all means possible. It is clearly a strategy to lead by avid and calculated stealing.

When Snowden's revelations on NSA spying on China's Huawei Technologies and China Telecom were made public last year, US officials tried to put up a defense saying that it was purely for the purpose of national security. That of course also included NSA's spying on the European Union anti-trust commissioner investigating American IT giants, from Google and Microsoft to Intel, and on international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund.

In his Jan 17 speech, Obama declared: "We will not apologize simply because our services may be more effective." With the latest Snowden revelation, we can better understand why Obama and the US government want to keep alive the monstrous NSA. For these politicians, spying for the benefit of American companies is synonymous with spying to safeguard national security.

And how can you argue against national security in a national security state today?

The author, based in Washington, is deputy editor of China Daily USA.


Editor's picks
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349