Tech Warfare: Chinese Database Software Vendor Ignores Risk of Sanctions for Using Oracle’s MySQL System Open Source Code

A Chinese software vendor has dismissed speculation that its enterprise product, which uses code from Oracle Corp’s open-source relational database management system MySQL, faces sanctions amid simmering tensions between Washington and Beijing .

Beijing Wanli Open Source Software Co recently reported that its GreatDB open source database system, used by large state-owned companies like China-Mobile and Industrial and Commercial Bank of Chinais not threatened with sanctions or suspensions because the core technology was independently developed, according to the WeChat post last Monday.

The statement followed assurances given by Troy Information Technology Co, parent company of Beijing Wanli Open Source, days earlier to investors that it controlled all relevant code and technology. Troy, however, admitted that GreatDB’s storage node was built on open source technology from GreatSQL – a unit of MySQL, whose database software is used by people like MicrosoftAzure cloud activity and Amazon Web Services.

To further clarify, Troy said, “The core of GreatSQL is not related to MySQL, and it is an independent technological evolution.”

The claims made by Beijing Wanli Open Source and Troy showed a concerted effort to allay concerns that GreatDB could be at risk of penalties if MySQL stops licensing its code, which has been the subject of a article published on May 28 on the news aggregation platform. Jinri Toutiao by an account called “Weichuangshe”.

The companies’ decision reflects growing geopolitical tensions and new calls for the continent to accelerate the replacement of foreign technology with local products.

Oracle, for example, suspended all operations in Russia in early March, days after Moscow invaded Ukraine. This action includes the withdrawal of all services and assistance to Russian companies, while prohibiting “the export, re-export, transfer to or use [of its technologies] in Russia or Belarus,” according to a statement posted on Oracle’s website.

Exchanges between Russia and its ally China have continued, despite restrictions imposed by the United States, the European Union and their allies against Moscow after the invasion.

Certainly, Oracle has no plans to sanction or suspend the use of the code of its open source product by Chinese developers. Open-source means software whose original source code is made available free of charge and may be redistributed and modified.

Meanwhile, an opinion piece published last week by the People’s Dailythe mouth of the the Chinese Communist Partycalled on the country to use more locally developed software to support national innovationa sign that the government may want to accelerate its efforts to replace imported technological systems with domestic products.

Founded in 2000, Beijing Wanli Open Source was one of the first Chinese developers to work with international database companies. In 2006, she co-founded a research center in China with MySQL and provided localization services to Chinese customers.

However, Beijing Wanli Open Source stopped working with MySQL when the company’s Swedish owner sold the company in 2008 to Sun Microsystems, which was later acquired by Oracle in 2010.

Concerns about the security of open source code are nothing new in China. An article published last year by Wang Xiaodong, a researcher at the State Information Center, places the risks of “suspension of supply” as a major threat to China’s security.

“All major international open source code funds, projects, and the vast majority of open source code licenses originate in the United States or are in the hands of American companies,” Wang wrote, adding that using a such code could be suspended at any time by those who control it. “From a business perspective, open source code models are increasingly implicated in commercial interests and supply chain security.”

China has been working hard to reduce its reliance on imported technology as early as 2013. US whistleblower Edward SnowdenWashington’s claims of extensive surveillance by Washington have prompted Beijing to launch a campaign to replace technology systems and components imported from Western vendors, such as the networking equipment maker Cisco Systemswith those of local tech companies like Huawei Technologies Co. – South China Morning Post

Maria H. Underwood