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Can The U.S. Meet The Huawei Challenge?

Huawei: When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that China’s telecom giant Huawei threatens U.S. relations with Europe, it turned heads. Is this a serious fight against a predatory, state-tied telecom behemoth, or just another salvo in the U.S. trade wars with China? Correct answer: Both.




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The Trump administration showed it wasn’t kidding late last month when it made public its criminal charges against Huawei for allegedly stealing trade secrets, lying to banks about its business, and violating U.S. sanctions law. That the move came just as the U.S. and China met for a crucial round of trade talks may have been mere coincidence, but it doesn’t look that way.

Now as the U.S. gets down to the short strokes on a trade deal with China, Huawei has again hit the headlines with Pompeo’s comments.

“If a country adopts this and puts it in some of their critical information systems, we won’t be able to share information with them,” Pompeo told Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business. “In some cases there’s a risk — we won’t even be able to co-locate American resources, an American embassy and American military outpost.”

What’s the problem? Plenty. The U.S., in addition to its specific criminal charges, believes that Huawei is the sharp end of China’s tech spear. Huawei is now the world’s largest maker of cellphone gear. For those who worry about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s apparent return to Mao-style totalitarian rule, the idea that he wouldn’t use Huawei to spy on the U.S. isn’t believable.

Huawei: The 5G Leader

But the U.S.’ tough stance is meeting with opposition. The problem is, Huawei is way ahead in developing next-generation 5G technology. The U.S. isn’t even close. And other nations want 5G. Now.

“The stakes are high, as the company is positioned to be the dominant player in 5G mobile networks,” Dan Blumenthal, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, noted recently. “If Huawei wins this competition against U.S. companies, much of the world’s data will pass through the mobile networks of a (Chinese Communist Party)-backed company that does business with the world’s most troubling regime.” 

‘High-Tech Police State’

It will also help Xi further cement his “high-tech police state” into place, and put 5G to use in military equipment ahead of the U.S.

The U.S. has pretty much banned Huawei equipment since last August, for national security reasons. While President Trump may soften that prohibition somewhat as a concession during trade talks, Huawei remains a security threat.

As you read this, the annual telecommunications trade show will be taking place in Spain. And U.S. government officials will be there, asking Europe to get tough. It’s a tough sell. Germany has already said no to the U.S., and others will follow. So here’s a better idea: As former chief judge of the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Paul Michel argued recently in IBD, maybe the U.S.’ best plan would be to stop pursuing mindless antitrust actions against our own best telecommunications companies. Instead, let them compete, for 5G and everything else.

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Author: TERRY JONES