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Ballmer to China: 'Steal all the software you want, so long as it's ours'

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has signed a memorandum of understanding with China's State Development Planning Commission (SDPC) worth $750 million over three years, involving both software and services, Reuters reports.

"We want the Chinese industry to grow. The success of Microsoft in every market, including China's, is highly dependent upon the growth of local industry. What's good for the local industry in every country is good for Microsoft," the wire service quotes him as saying.

MS also announced an investment of $24 million in local academic institutions, plus a $480,000 'investment' to set up a software college in Shanghai where mad Unix skillz will undoubtedly be taught under MS' noses.

Most interestingly, Ballmer claimed not to have extracted any promises from the Chinese government, according to Reuters. This of course means that MS is prepared to see its precious intellectual property defiled in every way imaginable just so it can get a toe-hold on the mainland.

Ballmer said China's desire to develop its software industry was an incentive to improving intellectual property protection, according to the report.

"As the Chinese government focuses in on the development of the local IT industry and its ability to export, having a good domestic market for those local Chinese companies to do intellectual property development is even more important," he said. "I think that is as clearly understood by Premier Zhu and the senior people I've met with as anything is."

Sorry, Steve; what the Chinese understand clearly is how desperately foreign patsies like you want to hear that sort of talk, and how soothing it is to your ears.

But hey, this is the model MS used to get those of us in the enlightened West addicted to their crack -- unless you think it's a coincidence that the company started getting ugly on piracy only after it reckoned its market share was beyond challenge. The idea that they'll try a similar stunt in China is hardly surprising. Only there, where foreign companies almost never see a return on investment, the strategy probably won't work as well as it did in the obedient, bourgeois West. The Chinese will take MS' money all right, then make them their bitch when the Redmond well runs dry and they proudly roll out their own flavour of Linux to great nationalistic fanfare -- an accomplishment which, ironically, MS will have helped fund.

Pretty cool, eh? ®

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