THE DEEPENING SAGA of the US government’s campaign against Chinese tech company Huawei intensified this week, with Huawei filing a lawsuit in Texas alleging that the government’s ban of Huawei equipment is “illegal” and based on propaganda, not facts. The case may not have much of a chance legally, but it underscores how this contest has become a microcosm of the larger competition between the US and China over who will define—and control—the technology of the 21st century.
The main thrust of the US push versus Huawei is that the company is inextricably bound with the ruling Chinese Communist Party and that its equipment, especially its superb 5G telecom equipment, will either be embedded with backdoors that will allow the Chinese government to spy or that it will have no choice but to permit Chinese government access to the traffic that flows through its equipment.
The clash is reminiscent of the Cold War, when the US and the Soviet Union vied to outfit other nations with planes and tanks. Now, the US and China clash over the technological infrastructure in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Looked at through that lens, is Huawei’s relationship to the Chinese government fundamentally different than the ties between the Pentagon and contractors such as Lockheed, Boeing, and General Dynamics? Is this just us versus them, dressed up as a defense of freedom and security, much as the Cold War was often about commanding the allegiance of most of the world and not about capitalism versus communism? It’s a hard and uncomfortable set of questions, which we absolutely need to ask.
Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/huawei-case-signals-new-us-china-cold-war-tech/