CHINA BUILDS Gitee, A GitHub Alternative!


China Builds Gitee

A move for an open-source code emerges as China builds Gitee due to technological decoupling between the United States and China as issues intensify. However, Beijing anticipates a broader geopolitical dispute could be detrimental to millions of businesses that rely heavily on software for their daily operations, as tech resources remain uncertain for Chinese firms – ranging from chipmakers for smartphones and electric vehicles, now software.

Total reliant on source code hosting remains a huge concern despite achievements already put in place by Chinese companies in the area of internet services for their customers. This is because a good number of fundamental technologies behind hardware and software enterprise lie in the hands of Western companies, and as frictions intensify between the two world economies, tech businesses and their clients feel the heat. Huawei which has been faced with a U.S. ban intends to unshackle imported chips as one cited example.

Also noted last July, developers in U.S.-sanctioned countries which include Iran, Syria, and Crimea faced unprecedented restrictions when Microsoft-owned GitHub suddenly cut off certain services, which caused serious outrage and panic in the global developer community. Although, China isn’t faced with outright U.S.-sanction at the moment but in a politically motivated economic war with the U.S. that have left Chinese tech companies worrying.

Since Chinese developers depend heavily on GitHub, concerns over a terrible outcome of source code hosting have made her tech community restless, noting an apparent ban on the subject site in 2013 that prompted Ex-Google China head ‘Kai-Fu Lee’ to speak out. China building Gitee is viewed as a move in response to an unforeseen outcome. Should political conflict inflict GitHub! The developer community would have Gitee as an alternative.

In view of this, one top China tech policymakers which go the name Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) recently picked seven-year-old Gitee to construct an “independent, open-source code hosting platform for China”. The project has been mapped to be carried out by a consortium led by the open-source community and Gitee, while the hosting service seems a government-led effort backed by research universities and participation from private sectors that include Huawei that is currently suffering from supply chain disruption due to U.S.-China intellectual property concerns.

Huawei executive had made it clear in an event held last August, shortly after GitHub reportedly comply with U.S. sanctions law, that “if China does not have its own open-source community to maintain and manage source codes, our domestic software industry will be very vulnerable to uncontrollable factors”.

While at the moment, Gitee is certain that there is a “Chinese alternative” of GitHub that have 100 million repositories and around 31 million developers worldwide based on last November report, while Gitee claims it has hosted more than 10 million open-source repositories and has so far offered services to over 5 million developers. Based on this, reports from an Open Source China known as “Sweet Poteto” or “Hongshu” did write in the Chinese language that:

“The world should be one where a hundred flowers bloom. The foreign market has GitHub and other kinds of foundations. In China, there are various organizations dedicated to evangelizing open source software, as well as Gitee. Noting that, “an open-source ecosystem can’t be built overnight. It’s a process of building a tower with sand. We have faith in the innovative power of Chinese developers. We also believe in our perseverance and strength to strive”.

Things aren’t clear if Chinese developers would migrate from GitHub or even its local rival as China builds Gitee. Meanwhile, GitHub executive had previously hinted on the possibility to open a subsidiary in China during a press briefing with the Financial Times, while on the other hand, it’s equally unclear whether Microsoft’s GitHub will act to pre-empt export restrictions.

Is China move with Gitee a win-win opportunity or just a precautionary measure?