/ Huawei's 5G Tech: Another struggle between the West?

The Mate 30 and the Mate 30 Pro were released in China last month with phones likely to be released around the world next month. Only these new phones are lacking a staple of Android phones—Google apps. This is a result of the US sanctions and ban placed on the products of the Chinese company, Huawei. 5G or the fifth generation of telecommunications technology is expected to revolutionize telecommunications because of its increased speed, lower latency, decreased costs, and ease of connectivity between devices. Consumers throughout the world are anticipating the widespread use and implementation of this technology. Recent governments’ decisions to restrict implementation of 5G through banning or limiting Huawei has caused anger from consumers, and implication from Huawei that this is merely a strategic move in the United States and Chinese trade war.

The United States claims the bans are a result of concerns hyper national security and the possibility of Chinese espionage. There are concerns that widespread use of 5G technology could create a dependence on products and technological infrastructure through “back doors” that will allow for spying and covert actions by the Chinese government. Huawei, a company accused of corporate espionage in multiple countries, has tried to suggest that it is an entirely independent company free from government interference. But because of Chinse law that requires that every company to cooperate with intelligence work, no Chinses company, even one with a more trustworthy record than Huawei, can claim total independence and transparency.

Even among military alliances such as NATO no uniform policy for Huawei technology has emerged. While the United States and Australia have chosen to ban the technology other states such as the UK and Germany have required technology labs to review the source code and ensure the safety of the technology. Because of the security risk inherent in intelligence sharing related to defense and security, the member states of NATO must develop a shared policy on the use of Chinses 5G technology.

Washington has put pressure on its global allies to stop using Huawei technology and equipment, even threatening to cease information and weaponry sharing for those who refuse. This pressure creates a difficult path for countries trying to balance relations between China and the US. China is increasingly working to spread its influence around the world, especially in countries with fewer resources and less wealth. Currently, the US has no competitive developer of 5G technology. If the United States wants to take this threat seriously they need to invest in the development of 5G technology to provide viable alternate options for themselves and their allies.