China opposes 5G politicking

By Wang Cong Source:Global Times Published: 2019/5/5 21:28:39

Prague proposals prejudiced: Chinese analysts



Visitors are seen in an intelligent experience center in Shanghai. It's the first 5G smart experience center in China. It was formerly an outlet of China Mobile. Visitors can experience 5G technology such as smart home appliances, e-sports and holographic videos at the center, where it only takes one second to download a super high-quality movie via the 5G network. Photo: VCG



While Chinese officials have repeatedly supported unified and open cybersecurity standards for the upcoming 5G era, they would oppose any maneuver by certain countries to politicize the issue and unfairly target any particular country or company, Chinese analysts told the Global Times on Sunday.

Following a conference in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, officials from more than 30 mostly Western countries including the US, Germany and Australia agreed on proposals for 5G security, some of which have been viewed in China as political rather than technological. 

The participating officials called on countries to take into account the political and legal system of the country where the supplier is from when they choose a company to participate in the rollout of their 5G networks.

"The overall risk of influence on a supplier by a third country should be taken into account, notably in relation to its model of governance," read the proposals, adding that other issues such as the countries' absence of cooperation agreements on security and data protection should also be considered.

Politicized issue 

"I think their intention is pretty clear: They want to make rules based on their own values and ideologies to target companies from countries with different political systems," Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Beijing-based Information Consumption Alliance, told the Global Times on Sunday. "I think it's pretty clear that they want to target China and Huawei."

The Prague proposals did not name China or Huawei. Chinese officials did not attend the conference, nor officials from Russia. In its ongoing global crackdown, the US has pressured its allies to ban Huawei.  

Chinese officials have called on joint efforts to establish a set of unified rules and standards for cybersecurity, but they have also made clear that such rules and standards must be fair and transparent. 

There was no official statement from the Chinese government agencies as of press time on Sunday.

"Cybersecurity is a global issue that bears on the common interests of all countries," Lu Kang, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said in a press briefing on March 6. 

"We maintain that it is a constructive proposal to establish unified, objective, open and transparent cybersecurity standards," Lu said. 

Lu also stressed that practices that misuse security concerns to undermine the market environment and obstruct global cooperation will ultimately deliver a heavier blow to economies that have more advanced industries and technologies.

"Cybersecurity is a critical issue for China too and China, with its advanced role in 5G, should also play a key role in any efforts to establish unified standards on security," Fu Liang, a veteran telecom industry observer in Beijing told the Global Times on Sunday. "The fact that China was not even included shows just how biased and politicized the conference is."

In a statement sent to the Global Times on Sunday, Huawei global cybersecurity and privacy officer John Suffolk said that the company welcomed a "collaborative approach" but urged officials to avoid measures that "would increase bureaucracy and costs and limit the benefit that 5G can bring."

"We firmly believe that any future security principles should be based on verifiable facts and technical data," Suffolk noted in the statement.

'No teeth'

Xiang said that despite the strong language in the non-binding proposals, there were "no teeth because I don't imagine they will come up with an actionable proposal." 

He pointed out that countries will ultimately make decisions based on their own conditions and on the merits of the products and services.

A country is "free, in accordance with international law, to set its own national security and law enforcement requirements," read the Prague proposals, while noting all should respect privacy and adhere to data protection laws.

Despite pressure from the US, Western countries including Germany and the UK have taken on what Chinese analysts call a "more reasonable" approach to Huawei that does not ban the Chinese company altogether but leaves room for tighter regulation and verification.

"I think so far the US has not clearly succeeded in its campaign to push out Huawei from global 5G deployment," Xiang said, as the US had failed to produce any verifiable facts for its allegations of security risks. Huawei products and services, meanwhile, have proved advanced and cost-effective, he noted. 

"Ultimately, the customers will always choose the best products and services," he said.

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