US urged to drop ‘small yard, high fence’ mentality on 6G development
Published: Feb 28, 2024 11:14 PM
6G Photo: VCG

6G Photo: VCG

The US government, together with its allies, has released a joint statement on endorsing 6G principles under the name of national security, a move that Chinese experts said reflects the White House's latest attempts to compete with China in the telecommunication sector.

Gaining an edge in 6G technology is based on the positive development of 5G, an area where the US has fallen behind amid its relentless attempts to block Chinese technological gains. Such an approach, driven by a politically motivated zero-sum game mentality, may not yield substantive results, experts said.

Experts urged the US to drop the "small yard and high fence" mentality and shift toward cooperation rather than competition for win-win outcomes.

The US, together with nine allies including Australia, Canada, Japan and the UK, released on Monday a joint statement to endorse principles for 6G under the name of national security.

The move aims to "advance research and development and the standardization of 6G networks." Trusted technology that is protective of national security is the highlight of the principle.

Although there is no mention of China, it's rather obvious that the move has a target, raising concerns of another round of US-led protectionism in the world telecommunication sector, experts said.

Some foreign media outlets characterized the move as another stage of the US tech race with China.

Before the principles were unveiled, hyping the tense atmosphere, the US publication The Hill, which covers Congress, used a sensational headline in an article on February 21, claiming that "If China dominates 5G and 6G, no defense system can protect America."

The US move was within expectations as it is desperate to make up for what it lost in the 5G era, but by drawing a "little circle" may not help the US catch up in the field, Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Beijing-based Information Consumption Alliance, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

6G technology does not come from the sky but is an expansion of 5G development. China has been successful not only in technology and  standards but also applications with scenarios ranging from smart manufacturing to ports and mining, providing a good foundation for its 6G development, Xiang said.

China has built the world's largest optical fiber and mobile broadband networks, and more than 80 percent of administrative villages across the country have 5G access, data released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology shows.

On this basis, Chinese companies are making progress on 5G-A, or 5.5G, which represents a transitional phase between 5G and 6G, with a series of products on show at the ongoing Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

"In order to race with China, the US should at least make some progress on 5G before reaching for 6G," the expert said.

The US announcement of its 6G principles did not shatter the Chinese telecommunication industry - just the reverse. Right after the principles were unveiled, the shares of many Chinese corresponding companies, including ZTE, closed higher by the daily limit of 10 percent on Tuesday. ZTE's transaction volume was 7.889 billion yuan, a new high for the past seven months.

Experts said that China's approach to telecommunication technology is notably open and encourages international collaboration in the realm of 6G. This stands in stark contrast to the imposition of tech restrictions by the US, which disrupts global supply chains.

In the development of 6G, international cooperation needs to be strengthened to allow more international companies to form an understanding and recognize China's standards in the area. In this case, if the US wants to isolate China's standards, it will be isolating itself, Fu Liang, a Beijing-based tech analyst, told the Global Times in a previous interview.

"If the US refuses to learn from China and open up to cooperation with China, including using more equipment from China, it will be a severe test for the development of 6G in the US, as it has already proved in its confrontation with 5G with China," Ma Jihua, a veteran telecom observer, told the Global Times, calling for more cooperation instead of confrontation or competition.