The United States is bent on crushing Huawei Technologies.
It is lobbying allies not to use the Chinese telecommunications giant’s 5G equipment, which it claims will open them to espionage or even cyber attacks by the Chinese government.
But the issue may cause a divide in the Five Eyes – the intelligence alliance comprising the US, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Already, the UK, Germany, New Zealand have indicated that they could continue working with Huawei on 5G networks as long as a rigorous oversight on cybersecurity is in place.
In fact, numerous telecoms operators in the five nations have been using 3G and 4G equipment and systems from Huawei, and have signed procurement contracts to buy 5G equipment from the Chinese firm.
While the US government is campaigning hard to persuade its allies to stop dealing with Huawei, it fails to offer any solid evidence to support its accusation that Huawei equipment can be used to spy on other countries.
Considering the penalty for violating contracts, the limited number of alternative suppliers, as well as the long lead time (18-24 months) from order placement to delivery, not buying from Huawei is not such a practical choice.
Also, nobody wants to fall behind other countries in the 5G race.
US President Donald Trump posted a tweet last Thursday that the US needs to win through competition, “not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies”. It seems that Trump is shifting to a milder stance.
Perhaps, like Huawei has said, telecoms operators that want to launch 5G simply cannot do without its products.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 1
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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