China’s Huawei Technologies Co has become the focus of an international controversy. Following the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟) in Canada, Poland-based sales director Wang Weijing (王偉晶) was arrested over espionage allegations just as more countries are banning its products from their telecoms networks.
In Taiwan, the Industrial Technology Research Institute, the Institute for Information Industry, and other research and development agencies have barred Huawei products from connecting to their intranets to maintain information security.
Meanwhile, research conducted by US-based think tank Peterson Institute for International Economics suggests that the popular Chinese video and music platform Tik Tok, whose popularity has soared in the past couple of years, collects user data and sends it to China, making it another one of Beijing’s tools for intelligence gathering.
The threats posed by Chinese technological products to other countries’ national security is drawing increasing international attention.
In response to the growing global boycott of Huawei products, China’s state-run newspaper Global Times has blasted “Western intelligence agents” for taking advantage of “the supremacy of public opinion” to “encircle” and “strangle” Chinese enterprises.
The newspaper also played the victim, saying that no matter how good Huawei’s products or Tik Tok’s software were, they bear the “original sin” of being “made in red China,” the archenemy of Western ideology.
China has clearly labeled the boycott of Huawei and other Chinese tech products — implemented in many countries to ensure information security — a Western conspiracy.
The Global Times’ backlash, ironically, fails to serve its intended purpose of clearing Huawei and instead underlines that the boycott is by no means merely a fight for technological dominance, but rather part of a global geopolitical conflict between liberal democracies and an authoritarian dictatorship — a fight that bears great significance for the development of human civilization.
The global opposition to Huawei represents a head-on confrontation launched by democratic nations against China’s growing evil.
The US-China trade spat seems to be a matter of a world power suppressing a rising power. Essentially, it is a confrontation between the US, a democratic nation with a free-market system, and China, an authoritarian state with a state capitalist system — a fight between two different political, economic and value systems.
China’s ascendancy could lift its population out of poverty, which is a good thing, but the reality behind its growth and how it uses its economic power shows that China would eventually grow into the greatest threat to democracies and free markets.
This is because China has risen by superficially adopting capitalist policies, while it is actually founded on unfairness, and the exploitation and oppression of other nations through theft of intellectual property, forced technology transfers, and high entry thresholds for foreign enterprises to enter the Chinese market, while local companies enjoy huge government subsidies and dump products abroad at unfairly low prices.
Consequently, China’s rise does not create a win-win situation that brings benefits and prosperity for all, but rather a zero-sum battle of life and death.
Advanced economies led by US can no longer tolerate the unequal economic and trade structure and rules created by China, so they have taken countermeasures to build a fair international system. Huawei and other Chinese tech giants are common targets because China deploys them to export authoritarianism through high-end technologies in a bid to restore the former glories of the Han and Tang empires.
Whether China can grow into a technological superpower is key to its realization of the “China dream.” The critical factors that would determine the outcome are Beijing’s ability to dominate 5G technology and the definition of its standards.
Not only will the 5G market be worth US$12.3 trillion, making it the target of a great corporate war, but as the technology involves a wide range of applications — such as self-driving vehicles, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, in addition to mobile phones — any potential hidden risk would pose a threat to the whole network.
This is why the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission in its annual report in November last year warned of the dangers of China’s intelligence agencies using equipment manufactured by Huawei and other Chinese enterprises to conduct espionage or harm information security.
The move to 5G would be the beachhead in a fight closely tied to the ranking of the next generation of tech superpowers.
Furthermore, Huawei has close relations with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and is pioneering China’s 5G technology development.
The company plays an extremely important role in determining whether China will dominate the 5G environment and take the lead in artificial intelligence, automation, self-driving vehicles and the Internet of Things, among other fields.
In particular, once the Chinese government achieves a technological breakthrough, it would apply it to the surveillance of its citizens to weave a tighter control network, which would be very difficult to escape. Such a digital authoritarian empire would be a great threat to global peace and democracy.
To prevent this, the US Congress in August last year passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, which contains a provision banning federal government agencies from using equipment manufactured by Huawei and other Chinese enterprises.
Furthermore, the Five Eyes alliance — Australia, the UK, Canada, New Zealand and the US — along with Japan and South Korea have issued resolutions to exclude Huawei from participating in the construction of 5G networks.
As a result, the company is trying to expand its influence in the Middle East, Africa, South America, and parts of Eastern Europe and Asia in the hope of breaking through the blockade.
Developed nations are establishing an anti-Huawei front to counterbalance an alliance between some developing countries friendly to Huawei in a practical display of geopolitics. This confrontation goes beyond economics and vividly demonstrates the incompatibility between democracies and authoritarian regimes.
Whether in terms of economics or a free democratic system, when it comes to a confrontation between freedom and authoritarianism, and between a market economy and state capitalism, Taiwan should not hesitate to side with democracy and a free economy, and implement a comprehensive boycott of Chinese tech products that could pose a threat to national security.
This is the only way to ensure Taiwanese’s prosperity and protect national security.
Translated by Chang Ho-ming
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