While no one, including me, doubts that the intensity of corporate espionage that goes on in the tech industry the latest news in the Trump Administration’s assault on Chinese telecom giant Huawai should dispel any doubts as to what the real issue is.
The Trump administration is preparing an executive order that could significantly restrict Chinese state-owned telecom companies from operating in the U.S. over national security concerns, according to people familiar with the matter.
Reached by Bloomberg, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council wouldn’t confirm whether an order is in the works, but did state that “the United States is working across government and with our allies and like-minded partners to mitigate risk in the deployment of 5G and other communications infrastructure.” In the statement, spokesman Garrett Marquis also said that “communications networks form the backbone of our society and underpin every aspect of modern life. The United States will ensure that our networks are secure and reliable.”
As always with statements in stories planted in major U.S. media houses like these what isn’t said is more important than what is said.
There are two major bones of contention with Huawei from the U.S. government’s perspective.
First is that Huawei is way ahead of everyone else in 5G technology.
They have the only end-to-end technology stack in the industry. Turnkey 5G networks from antennas and chips to the power stations needed to operate them. Simply peruse their website to see what I’m talking about.
All across the “Five Eyes” countries we have seen announcement after announcement of their banning Huawei 5G equipment from their networks. This is as much economic protectionism as it is about ‘national security.’
But, the real issue here is that, in very short order, Huawei has become a global leader in 5G infrastructure technology which the U.S. is falling behind on. And now with this arrest [Huawei CFO Weng Wanzhou] Trump is betting that he can scare everyone else into not buying their superior products through the ruinous application of sanctions policies.
The West has been systematically cutting Huawei out of the global 5G rollout because of ‘security’ concerns. More like profit concerns. It is, simply, typical protectionism by Mr. Tariff himself.
And he’s made no bones about any of this. Trump has stated quite emphatically that all a policy has to do is pass his ‘America First’ sniff test and it’ll get implemented.
And since he’s not a deep thinker, all he cares about are first-order effects and how he can sell it on his Twitter feed to his now brain-dead base who believes all of this ‘China hacked muh everything’ narrative we’re being inundated with all of a sudden.
So that’s the first angle on this.
But, the real issue isn’t just Huawei’s technological advantage which will put it in the driver’s seat to connect most of the unconnected world.
The real issue is that nothing has changed since a 2014 report from The Register that Huawei categorically refuses to install NSA backdoors into their hardware to allow unfettered intelligence access to the data that crosses their networks.
However, documents disclosed by Edward Snowden this year suggest Huawei may be more sinned against than sinner. The US National Security Agency’s ‘Tailored Access Operations’ unit broke into Huawei’s corporate servers, and by 2010 was reading corporate email and examining the source code used in Huawei’s products.
“We currently have good access and so much data that we don’t know what to do with it,” boasted one NSA briefing. The slides also disclose the NSA intended to plant its own backdoors in Huawei firmware.
So, make no mistake, the China hawks in the Trump administration are willing to derail a much-needed technology rollout in order to maintain complete control over data flow which four years ago was beyond their ability to process.
John Bolton is willing to start WWIII over a couple of pipe bombs thrown at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, for pity’s sake. Is it so far-fetched to believe he doesn’t want us to have 5G data access without the security blanket of spying on anyone he wants at any time?
Never forget that when they are presenting you with one bogeyman it is to distract you from the real one — them. We know from the myriad of leaks and data breaches that all of our data winds up in the hands people we didn’t give consent to.
We know that the NSA has access to any information it wants, obtained via the fiction of ‘legal channels.’ So why should we go through the fiction of pretending like Huawei is the real threat?
They may very well be, but it hasn’t been proven and it would be bad business for them to actually do so.
The national security angle is simply about Huawei refusing the U.S. repeatedly on granting backdoor access to our information.
It reveals both an insecurity and an insanity that grips every society in the late stages of Imperialism. As the competitive edge is lost the threat of competition fuels paranoia and the need to control everything.
But it is this need for control and the diverting of an ever-increasing proportion of the country’s resources to it that drives further loss of competitive edge.
Simply put capital isn’t going into innovation, it’s going into defending your moats, as Warren Buffet would put it. Moats around your business aren’t permanent. They require maintenance and innovation to remain strong.
Banning Huawei’s 5G network technology will ensure the communications gap between the U.S. and the rest of the world remains since the best products will not be on the market to spur competition, drive prices and costs down which fuel the next round of innovation.
Even as patriots worried about China’s most nefarious schemes we should not be applauding this. Because 5G itself is technology so far in advance of where we are now it means a completely different Internet architecture.
We’re staring at one capable of resisting the ham-fisted control techniques currently in place to keep us bottled up behind pay-walls, app-stores and, most importantly, hub and server connectivity.
Bandwidth so wide it means peer-to-peer networks so fast we won’t need sites like YouTube or Periscope to do citizen journalism. Deplatforming will become harder and harder. Decentralized data storage on blockchains which they can’t hack, etc.
And that’s what truly scares these people. What happens when the net itself becomes so decentralized they won’t be able to pick up a phone and take you offline?
As always, regulators and generals like John Bolton are fighting the last war. And if history tells us anything those people always lose.
* * *
Please support the production of independent and alternative political and financial commentary by joining my Patreon and subscribing to the Gold Goats ‘n Guns Investment Newsletter for just $12/month.