Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has labelled China “the most dangerous superpower on Earth” in an upcoming book The New Digital Age, co-written by Jared Cohen, boss of Google Ideas, the company’s think tank. Details of the book, which is out on stands in April, were revealed by Wall Street Journal’s Corporate Intelligence blog who got an exclusive sneak peek at preliminary proofs.
The book is primarily their thoughts on a techno-utopian future. Like the “illiterate Maasai cattle herder in the Serengeti” who will use a smartphone (we wonder which OS Schmidt imagines this Maasai herder to be using) to “inquire the day’s market prices and crowd-source the whereabouts of any nearby predators.” But his most remarkable remark is calling Asia’s biggest country China a dangerous and menacing superpower.
Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt
This is not the first time that the duo have worked together. The report says their co-authored essay, “The Digital Disruption” predicted in 2010 that “governments will be caught off-guard when large numbers of their citizens, armed with virtually nothing but cell phones, take part in mini-rebellions that challenge their authority.” A month after the essay came out, the world saw the beginnings of what is now known as the Arab Spring.
In their latest collaboration, Schmidt and Cohen say China is “the world’s most active and enthusiastic filterer of information” as well as “the most sophisticated and prolific” hacker of foreign companies. The report then states: “In a world that is becoming increasingly digital, the willingness of China’s government and state companies to use cyber crime gives the country an economic and political edge, they (Schmidt and Cohen) say.”
Another abstract reads: “The disparity between American and Chinese firms and their tactics will put both the government and the companies of the United States as a distinct disadvantage. The United States will not take the same path of digital corporate espionage, as its laws are much stricter (and better enforced) and because illicit competition violates the American sense of fair play. This is a difference in values as much as a legal one.”
However, the two authors do not take aim at China alone. They haven't shied away from pointing out the faults in the US cyber security, especially with regards to cyber-espionage like the Stuxnet virus that targeted Iranian nuclear facilities or exporting surveillance technology to states with proven bad human rights record.
But in summing up their thoughts, Schmidt and Cohen seem to believe China is prime for a techno-political upheaval, “This mix of active citizens armed with technological devices and tight government control is exceptionally volatile,” they say and warn that status quo will lead to “widespread instability.” China will experience “some kind of revolution in the coming decades,” they conclude.
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