You might not have thought that making an iPAD white would be a matter of international espionage.
Apparently the United States and Apple think so.
The alleged theft of how to make a computer look white (iPods as well) is thought to have been carried out with relentless determination over nearly 20 years, seemingly on the direct orders of Beijing.
Spraying a machine in white paint is not the answer. Building it from white plastic is not the answer either.
There is a secret method involved which makes the computer whiter than white. And lets it remain so for many years. Or so we are told.
Chinese companies, if armed with the complex secrets of super-efficient titanium dioxide production, would have been able to start selling into every market where the world's consumers want their products bright white: including iPods and iPads. (For the record those belonging to the author are an elegant black.)
The Sichuan-based Pangang Group is thought to have used stolen secrets to build a high-tech factory. But, and this is important, it did not get ENOUGH of the secrets to use it commercially.
China is currently only able to produce the titanium dioxide pigment via the older ‘sulphate route’, a notoriously inefficient, dirty, slow process which produces a visibly inferior whiteness.
Recent revelations by the US Justice Department suggest that in the early 1990s China identified DuPont's closely-guarded technology of the chloride route as something that it needed to lay its hands on and would stop at nothing to get.
Court documents in the US suggest that of many potential targets of industrial espionage, China placed the utmost priority on obtaining better grades of white or whiter shades of pale.