"China is evil, lawless, corrupt and a threat to the world/capitalism." That’s the unstated assumption in much of what is currently written and said in the United States about the world’s most populous nation – especially its cyber espionage efforts.
What other reason could there be for China's ongoing efforts (many of them successful) to steal the plans, patents, designs and what-have-you from foreign companies? Well, one reason is that China is practicing capitalism just as America taught it to.
To be clear: The Chinese government is a repressive organization that needs to be replaced. That said, its dealings with Western businesses and governments are driven by more than that. The country is, in no small part, the result of centuries of exploitation by European, U.S. and (later) Japanese businesses and these nations’ armed forces.
Don’t believe me?
"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. ... I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. ... In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."
The incursion Butler refers to is only one of many performed in the name of tapping into the nation's markets. Between 1839 and 1860 England fought not one but two wars with China for the right to sell opium to the Chinese. In Chinese history this time is considered the beginning of the "Century of Humiliation."
Ill treatment was hardly limited to the Chinese in China. The nineteenth century also saw the great Yellow Peril campaign in the United States. That came about because the Caucasian Americans who had taken over the continent from the Native Americans were convinced that these hoards of Chinese people immigrating to America were going to take over the continent from them and, therefore, were A Threat to Our Way of Life. (See also: The Chinese massacre of 1871, which took place in Los Angeles.)
Like Mao or hate him (for the record, I’m one of the haters) the Century of Humiliation ended when he and his supporters took over China. One of the reasons for the popularity of Mao’s movement in China was that he promised to kick out all the foreign powers and businesses that were supporting his rivals.
The Chinese are a proud people and deservedly so. They built cities when most of Europe consisted of mud huts. Chinese civilization goes back thousands of years. Most Americans think 200 years is a long time. China has gone from economic afterthought to the biggest kid on the block in practically the blink of an eye. Yes, it is playing dirty. I suspect that some of those tactics, like the lack of anything resembling contract law, will come back to haunt China and its government.
But until then, please, lets stifle the outrage over China’s military being involved in corporate espionage and admit the birds have come home to roost.