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Insurers Ignore the Political Reality of Dealings with China

Ara Trembly
Insurance Experts' Forum, January 19, 2010

When are we going to “get it” about the Chinese government?

How many times will we read of their criminal Internet activity against the United States (including the Department of Defense) before we wake up? It’s not as if this were some urban legend cooked up by bored college students to garner their 15 minutes of fame. These are real cyber-attacks doing real damage, and the best security experts out there are telling us that many of them come with the cooperation and support of China’s government.

Now we have the latest outrage—the very sophisticated attack on Google that hit somewhere in the neighborhood of 36 U.S. companies. Think about it. This is not some James Bond-style spying exploit against the U.S. government to ferret out classified information (although such nefarious exploits also seem to have taken place). This is a foreign government sponsored attack on our private companies, and whatever reason they may have had for perpetrating such a dastardly deed, it cannot be good for us.

Media reports are quoting experts who say that this assault on our companies was at such a sophisticated level that it is unlikely that garden-variety social malcontent criminals were involved. Instead, they say, several factors point to the involvement of the Chinese government. The investigation is apparently still ongoing, but the experts are also clearly stating that they are not releasing all the information that points to China’s culpability.

Yet the thought of obscenely fat profits seems to fog the mind. I have little doubt that insurers, for example, will work every possible psychological trick on themselves—even outright denial—in order to keep feeling good about doing business with a nation that fairly screams its disdain for us. Certainly it is true that the Chinese like to export their products to us, but it seems equally true that our neighbors in the Far East are seeking to weaken us—perhaps to keep us in a kind of sick dependent relationship with them.

My point is this: China is a trading partner of the United States, but given all that has happened and continues to happen, they can hardly be called a “friend.” Their record of repression of freedom remains a blot on history, yet we consistently ignore that “inconvenient truth.” We may well say that the government of China does not represent the Chinese people, but as things stand today those people are totally subject to the will of that government. If you are a U.S. company doing business with a Chinese company, you are in essence doing business with the same government that seeks to subvert your nation.

If we blithely continue to look the other way as the attacks keep coming, how long will it be before much more significant damage is done? Our government is supposed to protect us from such dangers, but those in Washington seem drunk on the same financial moonshine that has besotted many U.S. industries. A meaningful response is lacking.

Sure we know we’re being attacked, but as long as we get that sweet insurance contract, we’ll just pretend it isn’t happening. Something is seriously wrong with that mindset, but it remains to be seen whether anyone in government or industry has the will—or the ability—to do anything about it. We need to start pushing back on China … before we no longer have the strength to do so.

Ara C. Trembly (www.aratremblytechnology.com) is the founder of Ara Trembly, The Tech Consultant, and a longtime observer of technology in insurance and financial services.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Ara using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at ara@aratremblytechnology.com.

The opinions posted in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News or SourceMedia.

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