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Posts Tagged ‘espionage’

It’s Not Just Huawei and ZTE…

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 4, 2019

I published an article on my LinkedIn page on April 4, 2019. This is the gist.

There are other technology-based companies in China, some much bigger and wealthier than Huawei, that *could* be capable of things some accuse the more famous companies of while hiding beneath the surface. Here is the link to it if you’re interested: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/its-just-huawei-zte-scott-holstad.

 

Well, what I found after publishing the link on my blog here was that while, if memory serves me correctly, for many years LinkedIn has been an open site, if not for posts, articles, original content, etc., at least for people’s profiles, often viewed as expanded digital resumes. The impetus was simple. Your profile, and hence your digital resume, could be located by anyone, anywhere, most prominently headhunters, recruiters, HR professionals, etc. That was, after all, the original point. But no more! I really don’t know when changes started happening, but I discovered sometime last year that if one searched for me by name and my LinkedIn profile came up in the search results, clicking on it would take you to a black page with a login, and subsequently ever since, everything I’ve posted, shared, written, published, created, and yes, even my ever fluid profile has been completely off limits to anyone who cannot log into LinkedIn, presumably anyone who does not have an account. I’ve said publicly what I think about this new trend, but for this particular purpose, that’s a topic for another post.

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In any event, when I posted the original post with the link to my article here, I heard from some of you telling me you couldn’t access the article, was there another way for you to read it? And yes, there is. Forgive me for taking so long to address this, but I’ve been ill, busy and out of town, so I’m only now getting to it, but my solution is to simply reproduce my article in its entirety as it appears on my LinkedIn profile here on my blog, at which point it will be accessible to all. The formatting may not be as perfect, but the content will be the same. So, as requested,

 

It’s Not Just Huawei and ZTE…

 

Yesterday, Foreign Policy magazine published an article titled “The Improbable Rise of Huawei” with the tagline reading “How did a private Chinese firm come to dominate the world’s most important emerging technology?” (https://bit.ly/2HXEcU2) Current trendy topic, legitimate questions. I get it. And I don’t blame the authors or the journal. It’s a good piece, well written in a quality publication, and it’s one that needs addressing, although in my opinion, there’s probably been a little bit of overkill recently.

Huawei Mobile Phone\

[Huawei Mobile Phone]

I’ve been researching this myself. But I’ve been researching some other things, other companies, their owners, and shell games – all Chinese. And I’ve got a LOT of questions, and one thing I’m curious about is why the founder of Huawei, a Communist party member and former PLA soldier, is getting so much notoriety, and everyone knows how fabulously wealthy the company has become, yet no one is talking about another Chinese entrepreneur who started a company of his own, also under mysterious and unusual circumstances, and who has been so very successful, that he is worth about 20 times what Huawei’s Ren Zhengfei is worth and according to this year’s Forbes, is the 22nd richest man in the world (https://bit.ly/2HYsbhq), compared to Ren, whom Forbes lists at #1,425 (https://bit.ly/2G1jnFb)!

Do you know of whom I refer? Does the name “Jack Ma” ring a bell? Does the company, “Alibaba” (or Alibaba Group) ring a bell? (https://www.alibaba.com) Let’s just say that his background is of a person who was largely a massive failure, who found out about the Internet and somehow found 20 grand to start a web design company out of his house with his wife. (I intend to write more about this some other time, so I’m leaving a great deal out…) Around 1999, with his wife and a group of friends, Alibaba had been formed as a B to B technology marketplace start-up. (https://bit.ly/2fcoC5c)

Then Ma disappears. Nothing on him. I’m sure it’s possible to find stuff, but just take a cursory glance and see if you can find him in, say 2006 or 2010. Yet, in 2015 he surfaces and takes the company public at the NYSE in the biggest IPO in the history of the world! Now how did he get from poor, miserable failure (rejected on 30 out of 30 job applications after barely making it through a minor teacher’s institute with a BA in English, just as one example), start two companies in three years, start making bank and then disappear from view for 15 years, only to emerge in the public’s eye to become, by today, owner of a relatively unknown (in much of the West) Chinese company that is literally worth twice as much as the notorious, world famous Huawei, and whose own net worth as of this year is over $40 BILLION compared to Ren’s $2.2 billion, as of two days ago? Doesn’t that strike anyone besides me as just a little … odd? And while Huawei is everywhere in the world, so is Alibaba. Indeed, I have very senior level contacts at both companies (C-level), both in China and in the US. I’ve interacted with some people at different times. And the Foreign Policy writers, if I recall correctly, noted that Huawei is everywhere now – specifically in 170 countries. Guess how many countries Alibaba operates in? Going on 200. Yep, bigger, richer, more successful, founder possibly more mysterious than Huawei’s, and while the company hasn’t become notorious for making devices like mobile phones, they sell the hell out of them! I know, I bought one. Recently. A high-end Kyocera, unlocked international, for half the retail cost elsewhere. But I didn’t keep it. There were multiple reasons why. I looked at it, tested it carefully, and returned it. The company actually has a program where they award certificates, of a sort, to third party resellers whom they deem sufficiently good enough to represent them. And while the company is not a manufacturer, like Huawei is, it has access to and sells more (I believe) items, generally technology items such as … mobile phones…, than most companies in the world. And while people are up in arms about Huawei’s alleged ties to China’s communist party, certainly in the company’s beginnings, many analysts believe that NO “private” company, especially such huge, successful international behemoths – that are everywhere throughout the western world, for instance – could possibly operate without both the permission AND most likely the backing of the CCP, or at least elements of the CCP. Think about that. And think about the fact that Alibaba sells a virtually unlimited number of Huawei and ZTE products, as well as many other international products (including from other Chinese companies), in more places than Huawei! And how hard is it to modify a mobile phone? If MSS, or one of the newer agencies that have been created over the past few years, were to somehow be involved in some way – and I’m NOT saying they are at all!!! – it wouldn’t be too difficult to replicate or even improve on some of the possibilities that some people are accusing Huawei of. Think about that too. And just in case you’re wondering if the company is just a giant marketplace, understand this – like many other companies, they’re ambitious. And they’ve developed a cloud program so massive, it can be rivaled only by the likes of AWS, Google, IBM and it seems Oracle is also moving up the ranks. Literally, Alibaba has come out of nowhere to become one of the roughly 5-6 biggest cloud providers in the entire world! And yes, I have connections with people at Alibaba Cloud (https://us.alibabacloud.com).

Server Farm - Alibaba Rev

What does one make of this? I guess my primary point is to not discount this company simply because it does not manufacture high tech wireless devices. It’s a technology company, first and foremost, and it’s gone from reseller to a very big player, essentially under most people’s noses. Which begs another question: how big do and will they get? I anticipate acquisitions, partnerships, new divisions in other areas. I would think AI would be very attractive to them at the moment, especially in light of Xi’s announced ONE TRILLION-dollar goal to have the biggest and best quality (by far) AI industry in the world by 2025. And with the R&D available in China, and that kind of financial backing, and – forgive me if it seems like I don’t know what in the world I’m talking about, because I know enough to be dangerous, but I’m not a scientist – with the likely advent of advanced quantum computing, it’s virtually impossible to imagine the possibilities of that bizarre universe as a base for AI. And what could come from that. Need I continue?

But that’s not all. I’ve been delving into other, smaller and lesser known, but increasingly popular, Chinese wireless manufacturers and companies, and have turned up quite a bit of interesting information in the process. I’m not ready to name names, but one company that interested me turned out to be owned by another company – in the same district in the same city – that turned out to be owned by yet another company – same district, same city – all of whom had unlisted, but official representatives who shared the same email domain – that of one of these companies. And their items and inventory are similar, but grow more diverse, and you start hitting walls, have to find ways around them, and continue on, while more and more companies pop up. And they go out of their way to hide their connections with the others, and the next one and next one. Standard shell game. Makes one wonder who the ultimate owner is… Possibly Huawei? Or ZTE? Or MSS itself? Who knows? All I know is there’s a lot more going on in China than many realize, particularly with certain types of technology being sold and provided in the West. And that begs an interesting question – could Huawei simply be a distraction – a large one – thus allowing an untold number of much smaller, relatively unknown companies (or in Alibaba’s case, certainly not smaller, but definitely not a household name) to produce and distribute goods that actually might do what Huawei’s products are often accused of? Let’s not forget, there are a lot of devious people in the world, including in some governments (I think the US learned that in 2016, although preparations for that began many, many years earlier). Face it, many Westerners, and especially Americans, are – or have been for decades – simply naïve because we haven’t bothered to study other peoples and cultures and so on much more the way so many other countries have studied the US. Kissinger himself said that was probably his biggest mistake, circa the ‘70s. Not educating himself properly, not getting to know other peoples, other cultures, others’ goals and ambitions, even among one’s perceived allies. I would like to hope many Americans have come a long way since then, but I fear that most US geopolitical policy efforts since the Cold War have finally brought many to realize we have not, that we sat on our haunches, focused on the wrong agendas while ignoring important issues, and now there could be some major prices to be paid, if not already, then almost certainly in the near future.

I’ll wrap things up now, although I have much more to say. As mentioned, I hope to continue researching and digging and be able later to publish a more detailed piece with more specific information and harder analysis. Besides, I’ve been banging this out for too long now, and I have to move on to other projects. And while everyone is focusing on Huawei, I’d encourage people to take a hard look at some other entities, such as was mentioned here, as well as numerous other examples, and then do some reflecting. Feedback is welcome.

 

Scott C. Holstad

Founder, COO, CTO, Chief Strategy Officer, VP Cybersecurity @ WireMe Designs, LLC – Retired!

WireMe Designs, LLC

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It’s Not Just Huawei and ZTE…

Posted by Scott Holstad on April 4, 2019

I published an article on my LinkedIn page today. This is the gist.

There are other technology-based companies in China, some much bigger & wealthier than Huawei, that *could* be capable of things some accuse the more famous companies of while hiding beneath the surface. Here is the link to it if you’re interested: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/its-just-huawei-zte-scott-holstad.

Thanks!

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