Lenovo 5G vote shows depth of sector’s integration

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/10 20:57:38

Some countries should feel guilty as they block 5G technology provided by Chinese enterprises, such as Lenovo, which last year was caught in a controversy over reportedly backing US chipmaker Qualcomm Inc in setting global standards for 5G.

Some media reports said Lenovo voted for LDPC codes, which were strongly pushed by Qualcomm, in the first round of polling for enhanced mobile broadband at meetings held in 2016 by 3GPP, a key mobile communications industry collaboration, before supporting Huawei's Polar coding in the second round. 

Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi reiterated Wednesday that the company's vote for 5G standards had nothing to do with the question of patriotism. It seems Lenovo's move was only a business decision.

China has built the world's largest 4G network. The development of this technology has brought about the prosperity of China's mobile economy, helping the country build up some advantages. 

These days, it is normal and natural for Chinese companies to upgrade their technology and develop 5G wireless communication. 

These efforts reflect market-driven commercial behavior in line with international practices. 

The development of China's 5G industry is accelerating but the country has no intention to control global 5G networks. Both Chinese and Western companies play key parts in the global 5G value chain, which encompasses developing, emerging and developed economies. 

It's impossible for China to completely dominate the internet or the global 5G network. Some US scholars have warned about potential dangers of China's 5G developments, using these words to unite US allies in dealing with China. 

But this is just a new variation of the "China threat" theory. Some Western countries are resorting to political means to ban Chinese companies from participating in their 5G mobile networks. 

However, Chinese companies have become deeply embedded in global 5G networks, so cracking down on those companies will disrupt the world's 5G system, having negative effects on every enterprise in the value chain. 

Without China's participation, the global 5G system cannot develop well.

As for China, subtle competition exists between Huawei and Lenovo, but that's not necessarily bad. Without real competition, domestic enterprises are not likely to provide cost-effective services for Chinese consumers. 

Recent online criticism over Lenovo's 5G vote is a reflection of simmering nationalistic sentiment in China as some Western countries bar 5G telecommunications from Chinese companies like Huawei. But Chinese companies themselves are not nationalists, despite a rise in nationalistic sentiment within Chinese society. 

Liu's words delivered Wednesday suggested Chinese technology giants remain rational amid nationalistic sentiment. Both Lenovo and Huawei have said that they are international companies serving not only Chinese people but also people from around the world.

By not intervening in Lenovo's 5G voting, the Chinese government has shown that it understands the rules of the market. Hopefully, the US government can also stay out of the 5G market competition.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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