Clare McCullough


United States’ Communications Competition with China

Our global economy is becoming increasingly connected. Society has seen massive changes in the past decade alone due to wireless technology. On an international scale, China’s unprecedented economic rise has been a major upset in the Liberal world order, couple that with the 2008 great recession and the global stagnation of the economy we see an increasingly bipolar world illustrated in a technology race.

See the case of Huawei, the largest telecommunications company in the entire world. According to the National Interest, Huawei is also the second-largest manufacturers of smartphones and has become a market leader across Asia, Europe, and beyond. This Chinese firm is a single example of China’s rise that has made the United State very nervous in terms of the security of our telecommunications in a time of much instability. Huawei has been eclipsing what used to be the center of technological research and development, the US.

Regime-type differences between the democratic United States and the totalitarian People’s Republic of China seems to be an exacerbating factor when considering national security issues. There have been many historic rifts between the relationship of the countries when approaching privacy and freedom of speech issues. Due to the Chinese Communist Party’s stringent control over the economic sector, Huawei does not operate as a privately-owned entity. The trade war is rising Sino-U.S. tensions in an increasingly bi-polar and globalized world economy. Huawei has a history of fraud. In winter 2018, according to the NY Times, Ms. Meng, an top executive and part of Huawei’s elite was seized in Canada and extradited to the US,  because “between 2009 and 2014, Huawei used a Hong Kong company, Skycom Tech, to make transactions in Iran and do business with telecom companies there, in violation of American sanctions.”

With the creation of 5G technology, comes promises of record-shattering internet speeds and with it, massive economic growth.  According to (National Interest) 5G “next generation of wireless networks that promises to be 100 times faster and more reliable than current technology. It is a market that will be worth hundreds of billions of dollars, as 5G will require compatible new phones and communications equipment. “That primary factor that has made Huawei be seen as a national security threat. Another reason that Huawei is seen as a national security threat is that intellectual property theft has revealed all of the strengths and weaknesses of our technology. This complete disassembly and reassembly gives the Chinese Communist Party an understanding as to how better get around or enforce firewalls.

China and United States are threatening each other and waging an economic war of attrition. The reason for that being that technology and access to information are key to the world economy. As China has been edging the West out of the telecommunications industry, the United States has tightened China’s access to chips, hardware that Chinese firms desperately need and one of the few footholds that the West still has a monopoly over. The bi-polar world economy in which America is losing it’s ironclad hold on the state of affairs that they have acquired since 1991. Today, the state of affairs happens on the internet. The sale of telecom networks and smartphones that have American software has allowed Chinese technology companies to mass reproduce and become the third-largest purchaser of chips. China has made massive strides in artificial intelligence, providing massive subsidies in that sector due to the promises that 5G provides, according to the Brookings Institute “[5G] will enable a vast array of applications, including driverless cars and machine-to-machine communications”

There are claims that if American companies continue to do business with Huawei, they will be at risk. According to the NY Times, “Huawei, which sells global telecom equipment that American officials fear will give Beijing new channels for control and surveillance. Huawei says that its networks are secure and that it does not spy for the Chinese government.” American democracy and technology are fragile constructions. United States citizens in the past year have watched as their democratic elections were meddled in by Russia. Our president has seen to it that an increasingly massive division within the country has resulted in President Trump calling the Freedom of the Press as the “enemy of the people.”. Americans have had their data leaked by Equifax and their personal beliefs exploited and fed misinformation through the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica disaster. The landscape of technology in our democracy is under threat from American companies and foreign firms. I do not believe that I am speaking out of term when I saw that the United States is slipping from the position of hegemonic power. The Trump administration’s trade war is a manifestation of a falling and increasingly nationalist power.

All in all, the trade war and the movement of ban Huawei stems from the very valid fear of intellectual property theft, the regime type differences, the domestic issues stemming from freedom of speech, and right to privacy. Technology has radically changed how we navigate the world, opening up new opportunities to hijack our computers and our phones.

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