IBM HAS REPORTEDLY been letting Chinese authorities inspect its source code in an attempt to prove that it isn't up to mischief.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Chinese ministry of industry and IT has been granted limited access to the usually locked down code in an attempt to assure Chinese authorities that US coders and intelligence firms haven't created backdoors to spy on the secretive red state.
Lenovo's recent takeover of IBM's x86 server division is the perfect backdrop for the suspicions that exist between the East and West and the need for closer relations. The deal was delayed by regulatory bodies on both sides for almost a year while investigations were made to ensure that Lenovo could be trusted with existing IBM servers, and that the IBM firmware was not inherently bugged by the US.
A spokesman for IBM told Forbes that the company was far from the first to give in, and that it is, in fact, becoming common practice, suggesting that Microsoft and Apple are both involved in similar schemes.
Microsoft, particularly, has a lot of ground to cover in relation to China. Antitrust suits, premises raids and a prime-time TV declaration of Windows as "spyware", show just how little love there is for Redmond in Beijing.
Windows 10 will now come to China, but in a state consortium deal which will, among other things, see Bing replaced with Baidu as its primary search engine and, if there's any justice, Cortana replaced with a waving gold cat.
Chinese representatives are not, however, given free rein to poke about, but rather supervised demos are organised in rooms akin to Faraday Cages so that nothing can get in or out.
The Wall Street Journal has said that this is not limited to China, but did not elaborate.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping is on a state visit to the UK this week, and trade agreements are highest on the list of talking points, but in this country too, suspicion about the motives of any agreement on technology is high.
The BBC's Newsnight programme last Friday saw Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming give a squirmingly uncomfortable defence of the safety of allowing Chinese/English technology into sensitive areas such as nuclear power plants. Presenter Evan Davis even used the phrase "back doors".
All this shows that, despite declaring a 'golden age' of relations between the West and China, it remains at arm's length from a security point of view. µ
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