Software piracy could quite literally be the downfall of China's internal airlines.
In the world's most populous nation, where it is estimated that 96 per cent of software is pirated, aviation officials are concerned that on 1 January, 2000, confused inflight computers may send some planes crashing earthwards.
Besides raising a major threat to passenger safety, the Millennium Bug has served to highlight the downside for Asian companies that prefer to side step the expense of copyright software.
Since many home grown Chinese airlines may not have bought their software from original manufacturers, they will be unable to turn to them for help in debugging their systems.
So it is down to China's aviation technicians to either work out how to render their systems Y2K compliant by the end of the year or the companies will be forced to purchase new copyrighted software - if they plan to achieve compliance.
There may be additional motivation to do so - the Chinese authorities have decided to throw in an added incentive by suggesting that executives of China's internal airlines be forced to fly on their own aircraft on the first day of the new Millennium.
The Chinese are perhaps taking their lead from America, where officials of the Federal Aviation Administration have said that they will demonstrate their confidence in US airline safety by taking to the skies on New Year's Eve.
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