Alwaght– US President Donald Trump’s pressures on allies to ban Chinese electronics giant Huawei from the 5G rollout continued with insulting of the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The president was “apoplectic” during a phone conservation with Johnson and ended the talk furiously. The Americans express concerns about possible espionage of China on the Western countries by getting the authorization to help roll out the fifth generation of the internet in the West. Over the past two years, Washington took measures to limit Chinese tech companies including Huawei with a set of goals, signaling that the concerns go beyond fears of espionage over the super high-speed internet.
In early 2018 and in the middle of the trade war he waged against China, the American president made serious accusations against the Chinese communication companies Huawei and ZTE. Huawei is struggling to get contracts worldwide to initiate 5G networks. Europe is the biggest Huawei market outside of Asia.
By his charges of having potentials for spying if allowed to upgrade the Western communication networks, Trump sparked fear among the world’s economic heavyweights like Germany and Japan and important economies like Canada, Britain, and Australia about whether they should allow Huawei to involve in their network upgrade.
In a report, Reuters wrote that the US hacked into the Huawei managers’ phones in airports and gained information that revealed the “suspicious” activities of the company. The accusations are supported by other accusations against Huawei and Chinese firm Skycom which are accused of sending banned facilities and services to Iran. Huawei is also accused of stealing a T-Mobile testing robot dubbed “Tappy.”
In December 2018, Canada detained Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. The US’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court launched a probe into possible espionage activities of Huawei but remained salient about the findings. The Wall Street Journal reported in August 2019 that Huawei employees helped some African governments spy on political opponents.
Trump heavily pressed European allies to refrain from allowing Huawei to join 5G, arguing that the involvement will grant China extensive spying capabilities in the Western countries. The heaviest push came on PM Boris Johnson of Britain who eyes China as a significant trade partner as Brexit is finalized.
Britain in the middle of US-China trade war
When Trump made accusations against Huawei, he found favor and support in the British intelligence which warned the politicians not to go ahead with Huawei partnership. But politicians in Britain and other European states argued that their countries should not be deprived of Huawei-developed 5G and that even if the threats of espionage are serious, they can strengthen their cyber-shields to prevent that.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel in December told the EU the bloc should take a joint stance in dealing with China while allowing Huawei to bring fifth-generation internet to Europe. She said that security standards should determine the decisions and that “case elimination” of tech companies from new communication technology is a mistake. Germany’s insistence on working with Huawei also affected Britain as the latter since the beginning did not develop an interest in cutting off Huawei from its next-generation communication network.
Previous British PM Theresa May had given a green light to use of Huawei’s non-essential communication facilities in the development of 5G network in the country. The British companies were told to use Huawei antennas and other facilities making up 5G network but not chipsets underpinning Huawei-developed 5G.
As Johnson stated his decision to allow Huawei to work in Britain, Trump sent a severe warning telling London that this could end bilateral national security alliance. Trump offered to jointly develop 5G networks but the British government says that this would be costly and time-taking. The final word was left to the National Security Council which recently confirmed it allows limited Huawei role in the country’s 5G network launch. According to the decision, the company will be barred from sensitive locations, such as nuclear sites and military bases and its share of the market will be capped to 35 percent. Following the decision, US Secretary of State said that London green light poses danger to national security and strength.
The US goals
The American pressure on London has been beyond the simple concerns over British security. Trump definitely has other goals behind his anti-British pressures.
The American president seeks to prevent the Chinese economy as it firmly comes to unseat the US as an economic superpower. According to a Huawei manager, the company’s revenue went beyond $109 billion in 2019. The Chinese company has plans to increase it to $150 billion in 2020.
Also, Giang Tao, the Deputy Head of Huawei Intelligent Computing Platform announced the firm invested €100 million on an artificial intelligence-powered supercomputer. Named Atlas 900 AI Cluster, the supercomputer can, for example, reduce to only 10 seconds the 74-hour time necessary to do a single search in astronomy. This new technology will unleash a tough competition between the global tech giants. Huawei also plans to unseat Apple as a leading smartphone maker.
Huawei’s advancement will break the technology monopoly for years held by American companies. As the US government stepped up its Huawei pressure, Google blocked the company’s access to a new Android update. The move took aback the Chinese company but at the same time motivated its efforts towards its own operating system.
Experts suggest that even if Huawei is banned in the US, it still holds 40 to 60 percent of the global networks market. Moreover, American companies want partnership with Huawei. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in August last year said over 50 American companies placed requests for working with the Chinese communications giant.
Due to its technological supremacy, the US has been headquartering the Five Eyes Alliance, an intelligence coalition including the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. But the Chinese progress in digital technologies endangers US supremacy as at the same time risks the collapse of the Fives Eyes organization.
On the other side, Huawei tries to assure its customers and partner countries about its efforts to counter cyber espionage. Vice-president of Huawei Corporate Communications Karl Song says cooperation with Europe is very important for Huawei.
“We think that cybersecurity is an important matter and we can eliminate the worries transparently and logically,” Song was quoted as saying.
The fast-moving Huawei advances signal that Trump’s pressures are short-living and he cannot block the company’s partnership with the global countries.