File photo: IC
As we move ahead toward 2020, Western nations are creating a new narrative of an enemy that must be contained: the China made 5G network.
Starting with privacy and data sharing concerns, diverse political and economic figures in the US and Europe have framed the 5G network upgrade as a matter of national security related not only to military affairs, but also citizens' ordinary lives.
Unfortunately, it is a matter of pure government intervention on behalf of a few corporations that are facing stiff competition and lagging behind when it comes to deploying a reliable 5G network.
By falsely accusing Huawei of being "a state sponsored company that will share citizen's private data with the Chinese government," the tone was set to give reprieve to local companies to play catch-up with the China innovation drive, legally creating a monopoly under national security concerns, and stopping Huawei from becoming a global tech giant enterprise, thus blocking China from taking the lead in the fifth industrial revolution.
Keeping up with the security narrative, the US and its allies have a more sinister objective behind the banning of Huawei from their markets. It is called the Five Eyes security protocol, the agreement signed between Canada, the US, New Zealand, the UK, and Australia, a mass surveillance program that collects data from citizens' usage of the internet, social media, phones, and basically anything we as citizens are doing.
As Snowden demonstrated with his leaks, abuses exist within the American security apparatus, especially the NSA, and privacy is a false narrative as long as the Five Eyes program is active, as its purpose is data collection.
This demonstrates that the threat of 5G comes not from Huawei as a Chinese company, but from the fact that Huawei, as a multinational company, has no interest in any spying protocols agreement, or providing backdoor keys to the five nations' national security agencies, since by doing that it will breach its corporate responsibility and give access to Chinese nationals' data.
With this in mind, dominance through containment is the key for Western nations, and especially the US, to maintain their leadership role in global affairs.
We have to understand that the concept of sovereignty has moved to a new level: cyber space. In this space, technology is the key weapon to control nations' futures and their allegiances. By controlling their 5G networks, the US message is clear: Washington sees information technology as the next resource for infrastructure dominance.
This new cyber control goes beyond the normal state security interactions that have prevailed for centuries. 5G technology brings a new playing field of connectivity, especially within the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT). Today all our infrastructure is linked through smart computing devices, from health and education to transportation, manufacturing, power grids and e-governance platforms.
Now, under US President Trump, there is fear of breach of privacy, fear of losing control of your devices and sensitive infrastructure, creating an enemy to blame, which in this case is China know-how.
China has become the second largest economy in the world, making Washington uneasy. In fact, China has not only transformed economically, but also offered a new balance in global governance, innovation and an alternative vision for the world.
Time will tell how the 5G narrative will play out, but the world has options today. Let us hope developing nations see clearly where their interests rest, and make a conscious decision about their future infrastructure build up.The author is director of Education, International Bachelor Program at the International School under China Foreign Affairs University. [email protected]