Chinese analysts lambast Pompeo’s expanded ‘clean network’

By GT staff reporters Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/6 14:48:40

Project is ‘a US pipe dream’ that will have little effect

China US Photo: GT

The US State Department's expansion of its so-called "clean network" initiative, which just surfaced a few days ago, reeks of McCarthyism, which was long ago put in its grave by the peoples of the world, and is more like a pipe dream and a manifestation of a certain madness going on in the US, Chinese analysts said on Thursday.

The US State Department, headed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, unveiled on Wednesday (US time) a five-pronged approach to extend its so-called "clean network," which basically means telecom networks will be stripped of anything Chinese. In the new five-point expansion, the US department hopes that efforts can be made to remove Chinese mobile apps from Apple and Android app stores; Huawei smartphones will be prohibited from pre-installing popular US apps; and cloud services offered by Chinese internet giants Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent will be discouraged.

Chinese telecom carriers doing businesses in the US and Chinese-invested undersea cables are also being targeted, though the two sectors have been subjected to US crackdowns previously.

Observers pointed out that Pompeo's "clean" network and its expansion program are rife with political schemes and calculations, and are expected to have minimal effect on Chinese business interests, as the policies require a lengthy and cumbersome implementation period.

Tencent, China Mobile and China Telecom declined to comment when reached by the Global Times. Other Chinese companies were unavailable for comment as of press time on Thursday.

Although Pompeo's threats to ban Chinese apps reminded people clearly of India, which has banned hundreds of Chinese apps in the past weeks, the US government may actually not have as much power as its Indian counterpart.

Chinese analysts said the policies are part of an arsenal of weapons the US has prepared for China, but said their actual effects are doubtful, due to practical issues in their implementation. 

Many Chinese internet firms don't have a meaningful business presence in the US, so a ban on their apps will not carry much impact, and the US cannot prevent users from installing those apps, even if it can persuade or even request vendors not to pre-install them.

Ma Jihua, a veteran industry analyst in Beijing, told the Global Times that the whole thing is a drama that can be best understood if you factor in the upcoming US election in November.

"The Trump administration has prepared many such slings to throw at China in its skirmish and provocation tactic [before the election]," Ma said. 

"The trick in using such a tactic is to garner support from its voter base through a show of 'strength' and to avoid more meaningful conflict with China in the area of trade, which could blow up its voter support," noted Ma.

Nonetheless, Ma said if the US is serious in implementing such threats, it may take about two years under the US legal system to put these policies in place.

Ma also noted that the rampant spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the US government to apply its weapons too quickly, greatly reducing the effect of each policy statement.

Shen Yi, director of the Research Center for Cyberspace Governance at Fudan University, said the US' so-called purifying plan proposed by the US government is based on one theory  - that the US is the world's center and without US markets and users, Chinese tech firms would not survive. 

"But such a presumption no longer stands in today's multilateral world," Shen told the Global Times on Thursday.

"Even if the named Chinese firms and apps are forced to retreat from the US market, can the US offer equally good products and services? If it cannot, the policy is nothing more than cutting itself off from the outside and rejecting progress," Shen said.

In an interview with Xinhua on Wednesday, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out that the US is not qualified to build a so-called coalition of "clean countries" because it is dirty all over itself, referring to US mass surveillance spy programs over the years.

At Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications leader that Pompeo has spent a great deal of time and energy on, his "clean" imitative carries another meaning.

A Huawei technology staff member shared with the Global Times his understanding of Pompeo's "clean" network project  - "C-L-E-A-N: Clandestine & Lies Enabling American's Narcissism".

Huawei has reportedly divested its undersea telecom cable business.

Posted in: ECONOMY

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