The relationship between Google and China has grown increasingly contentious, and in a new book former CEO Eric Schmidt reportedly has some harsh words for the country. The Wall Street Journal reports that it has seen preliminary galleys of The New Digital Age, written by Schmidt and Google Ideas director Jared Cohen. In the book, the pair reportedly call China "the world's most active and enthusiastic filterer of information" — something Google has had to deal with firsthand in recent years. The book also states that China operates "sophisticated and prolific" hacking campaigns targeting foreign companies. Concerns about the latter have been a particular point of focus this week, with both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reporting that they had recently been infiltrated by hacking attacks; both targets said they traced their attackers to China.
Other countries could be put at a disadvantage
The concerns are raised in the context of global competition; the book warns that with an increasing dependence on digital communication and commerce, the Chinese government's alleged willingness to participate in cyber attacks could give the country economic and political advantages. "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 book reportedly reads, with Schmidt and Cohen warning that the US will not be able to take advantage of the same tactics due to the US legal system and "sense of fair play."
Chinese companies like Huawei are also cited as a point of concern, with the book drawing a direct connection between increasing marketshare by such companies and the influence of China as a whole. (Huawei and ZTE received considerable scrutiny last year when a US Congressional report highlighted them as potential risks to US national security.)
That said, the book doesn't appear to paint the country as an unstoppable force. The proliferation of technology in the face of tight government control is reportedly described as a recipe for "widespread instability," with Schmidt and Cohen even predicting that China will face "some kind of revolution in the coming decades." The New Digital Age is scheduled to be released by Random House this April.