Talk about closing the barn door after the horse has already bolted! A Chinese company is making a bid to acquire disk manufacturer Seagate Technology:
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 24 â€” A Chinese technology company has expressed interest in buying a maker of computer disk drives in the United States, raising concerns among American government officials about the risks to national security in transferring high technology to China.
The overture, which was disclosed by the chief executive of one of the two remaining drive makers in the United States, William D. Watkins of Seagate Technology, has resurrected the issues of economic competitiveness and national security raised three years ago when Lenovo, a Chinese computer maker, bought I.B.M.â€™s personal computer business.
Tensions have been increasing lately between the countries over Chinaâ€™s ambitions in developing its military abilities and advanced technologies for industrial and consumer uses.
Although disk drives do not fall under a list of export-controlled technologies, the attempted purchase of an American disk drive company would require a security review by the federal government, according to several government officials.
In recent years, modern disk drives, used to store vast quantities of digital information securely, have become complex computing systems, complete with hundreds of thousands of lines of software that are used to ensure the integrity of data and to offer data encryption.
That could raise the prospect of secret tampering with hardware or software to make it possible to pilfer information via computer networks, intelligence officials have warned.
If there were real national security concerns about sensitive industries going overseas, it should have started with computer memories 35 years ago. Thirty-five years ago practically all computer memories were made in the U. S. by U. S. companies. Now almost all computer memories are made overseas, mostly in China. We haven’t made much in the way of computer memories for decades here. I wonder how long it would take before our inventories of computer memories were exhausted? Worried about national security? These days memories are just as necessary for war-making as steel or oil.
Processors, IC’s, board-level products, hard drives—same story. You’d be hard put to find a hard drive that wasn’t produced in China.
It’s not just production. Engineering started moving to Taiwan some time ago and from Taiwan to China, where the stuff was actually made. This is a point I’ve been making for at least a decade: engineering follows production, management follows engineering.
Add Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines and you’ve accounted for practically all electronics production. Why pick on the Chinese? And why worry now when the production and engineering moved long ago?
This is just another data point in the anti-Chinese agitation we’ve been seeing from the press and the Congress lately.