Reuters: Open source software becomes key link in trade war

The article mentions,

In 2019, the United States fired a warning shot at the telecommunications giant Huawei, pulling up a technological blockade in the trade war. Huawei mobile phones used to build their own programs and services based on the Android open source operating system, but then President Trump blacklisted Huawei, restricting Huawei from using Android Google services and app stores. Reuters believes that the move has weakened Huawei’s overseas smartphone business and sent a signal to the Chinese technology industry that the US government is willing and able to weaponize open source software . Also in 2019, GitHub began blocking developers in Iran, Syria, and Crimea.

In the face of the blockade by the United States, China has also taken action. like

Huawei built its own open-source operating system, Hongmeng , while GitHub now faces a Chinese competitor called Gitee, which is backed by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Let’s sort it out from the beginning:

  • On July 6, 2018, the United States imposed additional tariffs of 25% on $34 billion worth of Chinese exports to the United States.

  • On May 16, 2019, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that Huawei and its 70 companies would be included in the list of export control entities, ordering unapproved U.S. companies not to sell products and technologies to companies on the list.

  • On October 8, 2019, the U.S. Department of Commerce further announced that Hikvision, Dahua Technology, iFlytek, Megvii Technology, SenseTime, Meiya Pico, Yixin Technology and Yitu Technology will be eight Chinese artificial intelligence The business is listed on the US Entity List.

  • In September 2022, the Biden administration decided to extend the imposition of additional tariffs on China.

In 2018, the Sino-US trade war broke out, followed by the US “technical sanctions” on Chinese companies and institutions. Soon, the technological blockade spread to the open source field. For the United States, which is in the midst of a trade war, the open source model cannot bring commercial benefits to it, but will instead become a favorable economic foundation for other countries, thus putting political shackles on it.

Open source software has become an important part of the Sino-US trade war!

In the past, the open source software exchange between China and the United States was actually more in-depth and important than we perceived. For example, from 2007 to early 2016, the open source operating system Android brought Google $22 billion in profits. In China, the proportion of the Android operating system has been close to 90% for a long time. China is also the second-largest contributor to GitHub, a significant force on the global open source software scene.

At present, the importance of open source software in technological and economic development is increasing day by day. According to iResearch’s “2022 China Open Source Software Industry Research Report”, in terms of the cost-effectiveness of open source software, it is estimated that open source will save 38% of direct development costs for enterprise projects, and other costs and benefits should also be taken into consideration. Another global data shows that open source software can effectively reduce the cost of reinventing the wheel and accelerate the growth of the $475 billion global software industry.

Regardless of the past or the present, open source should have been an important way for countries to develop together, reduce costs and increase efficiency. But rising geopolitical tensions have affected that economic reciprocity. The United States restricts the opening of open source software related companies to China, in order to cut off the supply of some open source software, and uses open source software as a weapon in the trade war, resulting in the division and confrontation of open source camps, contrary to the “open source without borders” that the source community has always believed in. Thought.

From another point of view, open source software is also an important counterattack against the technological blockade in the trade war. Open source software can replace blocked commercial software, and it is also an important way for my country’s scientific and technological strength to go global. In 2019, Huawei open sourced its self-developed operating system, OpenHarmony, and continued to promote the international development of OpenHarmony. The state has also strengthened its support for open source software infrastructure, and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has strengthened its support for Gitee, the largest open source software code warehouse platform in my country.

In 2021, open source was written into the “14th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China and Outline of Long-term Goals in 2035” for the first time, which clearly proposed to support the development of innovative consortiums such as digital technology open source communities; the State Council issued “” The 14th Five-Year “Digital Economy Development Plan”, which proposes to support the development of open source communities, open source platforms, and open source projects with independent core technologies, promote the co-construction and sharing of innovative resources, and promote the open evolution of innovation models; the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the “Ten The 4th Five-Year Plan for the Development of Software and Information Technology Services Industry, and the system layout for the development of open source ecology during the 14th Five-Year Plan. From the formulation of these policies, it can also be seen that open source software is important to technological development, to trade wars, that is, to technological and economic development.

Open source software has become an important part of the trade war

Open source has no borders, but open source software related companies have borders.

Reuters Pete Sweeney’s article “Open-source software braces for trade war” pointed out that the U.S. government is more inclined to target companies than open source software, because the “trial” for software is not easy to operate.

Naturally, the so-called “sanctions” against open source software are untenable. After all, open source has no borders.

The code has been opened, which is equivalent to donating it to global developers based on the existing open source agreement. It is a public resource, and it is not legally feasible to prevent Chinese people from accessing open source code. Moreover, users generally use various network technologies to hide access locations and achieve anti-tracking, which makes it difficult to prohibit access technically. Furthermore, they are all open source, the code is distributed everywhere, and copies can be found everywhere.

On the other hand, assuming Sino-U.S. relations continue to deteriorate, and the U.S. becomes more aware of the importance of open source on the battlefield, then it seems inevitable that they will start to make it difficult for China to obtain beneficial resources, and then it is likely to reduce the production of such open source software .”

Then engage in open source software-related companies, they have national boundaries.

In July 2019, GitHub blocked developer accounts in countries and regions subject to U.S. trade sanctions, including Crimea, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Syria. GitHub CEO Nat Friedman gave “good” reasons for this: “GitHub is subject to U.S. trade laws, just like any company doing business in the United States.”

In fact, there is nothing wrong with it, this is just a normal business process. But definitely helpless.

GitHub is the world’s largest open source software hosting platform and has the world’s largest open source software ecosystem. Unlike what many programmers understand, GitHub itself is not open source, but a commercial entity in the United States, which is regulated by the US government. Although there is no problem on weekdays and open source has no borders, when encountering technology wars or even trade wars, this kind of large volume has become a heavyweight weapon for the US government to attack externally, which can achieve mass destruction. Crack down on the “national boundaries behind open source” to the bone.

After the U.S. government included Huawei in the “Entity List”, Google suspended its business dealings with Huawei as required, involving hardware, software and technical services. What shocked developers the most was that Google’s Android operating system was banned Due to restrictions, Huawei can only use the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), and the Google Play Store, Gmail, Maps, YouTube and other applications and services related to the Android open source ecosystem packaged by the original underlying Google are no longer available. This is a blow to Huawei, affecting its smartphone business outside of China. Especially in Europe, Huawei’s second largest market in the world, its mobile phone business has been severely impacted.

In 2022, after the real-fire conflict between Russia and Ukraine, this “national border” will become more profound. At the beginning of 2022, affected by the situation in Russia and Ukraine, the Western society led by the United States launched a new round of sanctions against Russia. Oracle, SAP, Apple, Google and other major technology companies announced the suspension of business in Russia. Intel, AMD, Dell, Lenovo and other hardware companies have been exposed by foreign media that they have interrupted their supply to Russia. TSMC also said it would comply with U.S. export controls.

The world’s largest open source market, GitHub in the United States, naturally banned Russia. The wave of bans, which began on April 13, does not distinguish between companies and individuals; at least dozens of accounts have been blocked, including those of Russian bank Sberbank, the country’s largest private bank Alfa-Bank and a number of other companies, as well as Accounts of individual individual developers. The GitHub accounts of Sberbank and Alfa Bank were initially disabled and then completely removed from the platform.

Open source has no borders, but companies related to open source software have borders, and obviously, the resulting blow to the entire open source ecosystem and even the supply chain has no borders.

It is very sad that this geopolitical-induced trade war has extended to the melee in the field of technology and even open source. Faced with such “joint and several” sanctions, the open source ecology has been hit so hard, is open source still pure white without borders? Back then, RMS’s expectations for human freedom and civilization, and later the OSI group’s cultivation of “open collaboration”, and then look at the current world, open source has become an important means of combating economic development due to trade wars, open source actually has Crossing the border is really chilling.

To end this article, quote the end of the Reuters article mentioned above:

“Dividing the world into competing open-source camps would mark another reverse for free trade. It would also be a sad endorsement of the old adage that nothing is truly free.”
Dividing the world into competing open source camps would mark yet another setback for free trade. It’s also a sad footnote to the old adage “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

The text and pictures in this article are from the OSC open source community


This article is transferred from
This site is only for collection, and the copyright belongs to the original author.