Dwayne wants to know what we can do to avoid being overly reliant on China to build everything. Leo says that for years, the world, and the US specifically, has looked at China as the manufacturer of the world. But that kind of overreliance can be problematic when relationships become strained like it did when the US started requiring tariffs. Companies like Apple are now looking to move their manufacturing to other countries, even back to the US. Diversity is a good hedge against overreliance.
Leo downloaded and installed TikTok today, to get the experience before the US bans it. Is he worried about his data getting grabbed by the PRC? Not at all. Leo says it's the most creative and fun app going right now. TikTok has been trying to avoid the ban by having a US CEO, hired over 10,000 US jobs, and even courting Microsoft to buy their US operations. But the White House seems in earnest to ban it.
China has proposed that the internet adopt a new IP standard that would give governments greater control over its users. It has been met with support from Russia and Saudi Arabia, no surprise there. Leo says it also enables a government to use a new "shut up" feature that would enable them to lock out so-called "bad actors" or dissidents using the Internet to resist. But Leo says the only bad actors around are Governments seeking more control.
Johnny Jet joins Leo to talk about around the world trip he's been planning for a while. Part of his stops are in Singapore and Hong Kong and the Coronavirus outbreak is making it tough. Both Delta and American have canceled flights to China this week. Flight attendants also don't want to fly into China right now, making it harder for other airlines to go there.
Allan recently bought a hard drive docking station from a manufacturer in China. Is it secure? Leo says the reality is that everything is made in China, or South Korea. China has become the factory to the world, and many are worried since spyware has been found in the past. The government has even warned that companies like Huawei aren't secure and could be owned by the Chinese Government. But even if they aren't, they have to follow the rules in China. So it comes down to whether you're someone spies can benefit from. It's called the "Threat model." Odds are, you aren't a target.
Dan needs to buy his son a new laptop and wants to know whether a MacBook Air or Chromebook. He'll be traveling to China for an exchange student program. He also wants to maintain his social media. Leo says that either one will work, but he should be sure to obey the rules and regulations while being a guest there. Don't try and get around China's censorship by using a VPN. That's just asking for trouble. Email is not blocked, so setting up an email publishing scheme is best.
A propaganda app by the PRC Communist party is the number one app in China. Leo says it must be quite boring.
Bloomberg published a story that China's PRC had installed a tiny chip the size of a grain of rice on all Elemental SuperMicro Motherboard, giving them access to a treasure trove of corporation and national security secrets. These boards are used widely in corporations and even the Department of Defense. Leo says the article was well researched, well sourced, but the day after it was published, everyone, including corporations where 17 unidentified sources worked, have denied it. Even the US Department of Homeland security and the UK CyberSecurity Ministry.
According to Bloomberg, China added a tiny chip, about the size of a grain of rice, to network motherboards that would allow China to Spy on corporations. The chip was discovered by Amazon Security, which notified federal authorities. The servers were created by Chinese company Elemental, and are on everything from network business servers to NAVY WARSHIPS. Investigators have discovered that the chips were installed by the PRC at the manufacturing plant. But here's the twist ... everyone is now denying it.