One of the common arguments in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations about NSA surveillance is that other countries are going to double down on developing their own technology industries to reduce their dependence on U.S. companies. The Chinese press has made this argument numerous times—highlighting how IBM, Cisco, Intel and others have penetrated Chinese society—and this was one of the themes in Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s address to the United Nations General Assembly: “Brazil will redouble its efforts to adopt legislation, technologies and mechanisms to protect us from the illegal interception of communications and data.”
This week the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Center of China and the Internet Society of China sponsored the Chinese Internet Security Conference in Beijing. At the conference, NetentSec‘s CEO Yuan Shengang (Tony Yuan) compared the U.S. and Chinese cybersecurity industries. Yuan, who spent eight years in the United States, shows the difficulties of converting the attention to NSA surveillance into economics, painting a frank picture of the barriers to growth and innovation for Chinese companies. He also takes a much less techno-nationalist tone on the growth of a Chinese cybersecurity industry then the NSA spying promotes domestic industry argument would suggest.