US data decree should not selectively target Chinese firms
Published: May 12, 2022 10:17 PM Updated: May 12, 2022 10:13 PM
Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times
Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times

The Biden administration is eyeing a new way to "stop foreign adversaries like China accessing Americans' personal data" by granting related powers to the Department of Justice, Reuters reported, citing anonymous sources.

After failed bids by the Trump administration to bar Americans from using popular Chinese social media platforms TikTok and WeChat, the draft order reflects an effort by the Biden administration to respond more aggressively to scrutinize China's leading technology companies that serve Americans and also have access to their personal data.

It's not breaking news for countries around the world to roll out measures to protect data security, including the US. However, if the reported order is a political maneuver selectively targeting Chinese firms, it will only undermine the investors' confidence in the US market, cause unnecessary disputes and further weigh on the current struggling US economy.

The news is yet to be confirmed, but Washington has been famous for cracking down on Chinese firms under the guise of "national security concerns." From Chinese 5G gear developer Huawei to the popular social media platform TikTok, the US has been abusing the pretext of national security to attack Chinese firms even though there's no evidence to support Washington's accusations, and even despite Chinese firms being willing to cooperate with local governments to meet their requirements.

Chinese technology companies have seen rapid development in recent years, with some starting to lead the growth of certain industrial lines. Based on the colossal Chinese market and ample science and technology talent, Chinese firms share promising growth prospect, which clearly has triggered the US' anxiety of losing its technology hegemony around the world.

Not only that Washington has been attacking leading Chinese enterprises, it has also been cajoling and threatening other countries to take its side and reduce ties with Chinese firms, even though it would cost the US' so-called allies a high price.

British mobile network operators once warned that replacing Huawei's gear from their networks would lead to severe disruptions for home customers, and would cost them billions of pounds, according to a CNBC report.

Recently a local US wireless network operator Cellcom announced that it has abandoned the Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) promoted by the US government and switched back to the deployment of traditional 5G equipment. Since the O-RAN was launched with an aim to replace Huawei equipment, Cellcom's latest move is a concerning signal for Washington's efforts, VOA reported.

There is no lack of examples both in and out of the US showing that Washington's moves in bullying Chinese firms only cause market disruption. Numerous companies and consumers bear losses and it may also slow down the technology advancement of humankind.

In addition, it is inevitable that the Biden administration's reported executive order will cast a shadow over cross-border digital trade. Though the country has been claiming it is removing barriers in the sector, what it has done is the opposite.

Behind all these ill-willed moves, it is Washington's hegemonic mindset which dominates all. It is not hard to predict that Chinese and even firms from other countries would take a second thought before they further launch investment in the US.

If Washington could not make data protection measures based on reasonable and scientific considerations, it, like previous examples, would only cause market disruptions, adding downside risks to the US economy, which is already facing a host of challenges.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.