US insecurity stems from itself
As China has developed to become the world’s second-largest economy, it has gained the confidence to look outward at the world. The United States has been unnerved encountering this gaze. Unused to such an appraising look, it has viewed it as a challenge. As a corollary to this, Washington has come to the conclusion that the two countries are vying for the national security and economic advantages supposedly offered by tech supremacy.
Which is why, as long as Huawei maintains its superiority over its US counterparts in 5G, the US administration will not stop stooping to new lows in its efforts to contain the development of the Chinese company. For which purpose, it has coerced Canada to kidnap Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, and sought to cut the company’s supply chains.
That’s why the “final” declaration of the Federal Communications Commission, which officially designates the Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE as national security threats, will not be the final words uttered by the US on the matter. Especially since that conclusion is so palpably politically motivated.
In an undisguised cloning of the administration’s rhetoric, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement, “We cannot and will not allow the Chinese Communist Party to exploit network vulnerabilities and compromise our critical communications infrastructure.”
And yet, the US has used Huawei and ZTE equipment for years. If the two companies really are a national security threat, the FCC should have accumulated a tremendous amount of evidence to support its assertion that the two companies are risky business.
Considering the desperation with which Washington is trying to throttle Huawei, and also coerce its allies to follow suit, if the FCC really has such “overwhelming” evidence that the Chinese companies are such a threat, it is showing commendable fortitude and restraint in not presenting it.
The organization should serve as a firewall to guard against any misbehavior by the government or the companies in its sector so as to defend the public’s interest. It has failed in that duty by allowing itself to be downgraded into a mouthpiece for the US administration.
Certainly, it is the US taxpayers that will bear the brunt of the politically driven suppression of leading market players, as they will have to pay more to help domestic telecom operators rebuild their networks with equipment from other companies with lower performance.
A tech cold war is a zero-sum game that belies the reality of the two countries’ science and technology exchanges and cooperation which have benefited both.
The real risk for the US is that its insecurities and convictions are becoming debilitating.