Will EU, Japan follow US lead in waging tech cold war against China?

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/23 22:58:40

The US government is trying to persuade wireless and internet providers in allied countries, including Germany, Italy and Japan to avoid telecommunication equipment from China's Huawei Technologies Co, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. One of the US' concerns, according to the report, is that the use of Chinese telecom equipment would pose cybersecurity risks to US military bases in these countries. Earlier in August, Australia blocked Huawei from rolling out its 5G network and it was reported Washington had weighed in on Canberra's decision-making.

If the WSJ report is true, it means Washington is extending the battle lines of its campaign to crack down on China's high-tech industry to its allies, and that the US is attempting to wage a cold war against China in the technology sector.

Although Huawei is a Chinese private enterprise that operates completely independently, the US has long accused the company of being controlled by the Chinese government, claiming it is a security risk. Huawei has almost no sales in the US, but even so, it has gained the largest share of the global telecom equipment market with its advanced technologies, becoming the second-largest smartphone seller worldwide.

European countries by and large have welcomed Huawei's equipment. The company has jointly set up an evaluation center with the UK to check Huawei products that would be exported to the country for security loopholes, addressing the misgivings of the UK.

Will the US' suggestion to exclude Huawei equipment be accepted by its allies? Given the political influence the US has on its allies, its demand will put pressure on these countries. But on the other hand, these countries have used Huawei products for many years and widely recognize Huawei's technological advantages. Huawei equipment has a relatively cheap price and offers cost-effective services. Refusing Huawei tech will mean a more expensive, slower and less reliable 5G network. 

Some US elites advocate cutting ties with Chinese technological giants such as Huawei. Elites in European countries are also feeling the pressure of China's technological progress, influenced by their US counterparts, some of whom believe a technology blockade against China will help protect the technological superiority of the West.

But the situation in Europe is very different from that in the US. First of all, European countries have no intention to conduct a comprehensive strategic competition with China, and their concerns are more focused on commercial interests. Following the US to engage in a "technological cold war" with China means huge commercial losses for European countries and others such as Japan. 

Whatever the results of the upcoming meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Argentina, China must be prepared for and take the US technology blockade against China more seriously.

China should be determined to depend more on independent research and development to promote future economic and social development. It should reform the economic and scientific research systems and issue policies, encouraging both State-owned and private enterprises to do research and development. The country should create an environment for equal competition to unleash the full potential of the entire society.

No matter how aggressive the US is, China should insist on reform and opening-up, optimizing the institutional environment to expand overall cooperation with Europe and Japan, making the Chinese market more attractive to European and Japanese firms. The more pragmatic interests they gain from cooperation with China, the smaller the possibility of them following the US in a "technological cold war" with China.



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