China’s Huawei and the Technology Cold War

by Alan Davison | June 26, 2021 5:27 am

Huawei, the Chinese technology giant continues to struggle against a technology war led by the United States to have the world ban it from 5G. Besides the 5G issues, we now have a world with two separate Internets and tech sectors that are not willing to connect. These are some of the aspects of the new tech cold wars involving Huawei. The damage has been done and even if the technological collaboration resumes, the tech cold wars will likely continue.

In addition to an earlier ban by the U.S. to restrict the company from buying any technology made in the United States, it seems the company is set to suffer more bans while Australia and its allies continue to suffer Chinese-led cyber-attacks.

Although the U.S. spies on other countries more than any other country, the company continues to face U.S.-led pressure over concerns of the use of its technology to spy on other countries. The new executive order from U.S. President Biden said that the development and deployment of China’s surveillance tech outside the Chinese border posed a security risk to the country.

Other Chinese Companies Also Affected as More Countries Follow U.S. Anti-China Leadership

The U.S. has now banned U.S. investments in 59 different defense and tech firms in China indicating the official start of tech cold wars with China. The companies include major China-based companies involved in aviation, defense, military, and surveillance. It also adds to other restrictions on the company, including a restriction by U.S.-based Google to have Huawei handsets accessing apps like YouTube.

India has also recently responded by cutting off China’s technological collaboration.

For instance, it is claimed that the company had been forced by the Chinese government to spy on Australians through the 5G network. It was since banned from involvement in enrollment of the 5G network in the country alongside ZTE.

The concern over this forced the Australian government to shun Huawei and shift foreign policy from China towards the U.S. The cold wars between these and other countries will likely hurt China’s relationship with China and other countries in the world. For instance, Australia still depends on China for 40% of its total exports going by statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In fact, China has been cutting down on imports from China over the last year. This includes beef imports and levied tariffs on barley and wine imports. In 2020, Australia lost $2.3 billion worth of exports to China. Currently, the country relies on iron ore imports from Australia but this also may be affected by the technology cold wars.

Australia, on its part, has prevented investment by Chinese companies in the country. According to reports, the country has resisted efforts by Chinese governments to invest in mining companies in the country, the world’s largest cattle farm, and investment in the NSW electric grid.

The ban by Australia has caused a number of its allies to ban China from investing in their tech and other industries. New Zealand came first to ban China’s involvement in its 5G network. The New Zealand’s minister responsible for the government communications said that the involvement by the country in deploying and developing the 5G network posed a “national security.” Then came the U.S., which is also pushing for more countries to ban China from involvement in enrolling, deploying, or developing their 5G networks.

In Canada, a top Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested. She was then detained on charges of violating American sanctions against Iran. China responded by upgrading a Canadian drug smuggler’s 15-year jail term to a death sentence. It also held hostage two Canadians in prison, in what is now seen as hostage diplomacy.

Malcolm Turnbull, former Australian Prime Minister said that Huawei is unable to fail to comply with Chinese government. He added that it was hard to believe that the company can resist those directives from the government.

“Politically, realistically, and legally,” he said. “It has to comply with directions from the Chinese government, and in particular, the Chinese intelligence services.”

“Trying to suggest that Huawei, if Huawei was asked to cooperate in some cyber-espionage activity it would be able to resist it is ludicrous,” he said.

The company has denied any efforts to spy on Australia or its people.

No Public Evidence Implicating Huawei

According to the former Prime Minister, however, there was no “public” evidence that the company had been directed to spy on Australians with its technology or even that it was doing the surveillance. Thus he suggested the only available evidence is private with the authorities.

He also responded to claims that he asked the head of the Australian Signals Directorate – Australia’s equivalent of the NSA to make sure Huawei was involved in the market. In his response, Turnbull said he did not intend to ban Huawei or any other company.

Rather, he intended to keep Chinese vendors operating in the Australian market. He said his goal was to “have as much competition as possible, you know, in the hope of having lower prices for Australian consumers.”

The US has already succeeded to have the East Micronesia Cable suspended. The cable was suspended due to involvement of the Chinese HMN Technologies, which is a former Huawei subsea cable unit. The project was backed by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

Using Alliances to attack China

While China does not have a problem with Australia having a security ally in United States, it is concerned that the country is using alliance to attack China. This is according to James Laurenceson, director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney spoke to NBC News yesterday.

He added that the link between Australia and U.S. was drifting China away from the trade relationship with Australia.

“We’re desperate to signal to the United States that we want them to hang around,” he said. “So we go out in front on a whole heap of different issues, whether it be banning Huawei, or whether it be, you know, calling out China’s actions in the South China Sea, or whether it be calling for a Covid inquiry.”

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