Just two weeks after China watcher, Michael Sainsbury, warned that Turnbull’s pro-China lovefest speech could end up ripped off like “Bandaid” if Huawei gets the thumbs down, the Government followed the US in banning Huawei and ZTE from involvement in development of our 5G networks. Paul Budde, one of the world’s foremost telecommunications management and business consultants, reports.
THERE IS no evidence whatsoever that some clever bits of technology have been added to networks designed and developed by the Chinese that would allow the Chinese government or anybody else for that matter to interfere with networks they have built or are building. As a matter of fact, communications networks around the world – as they are in place at the moment – manufactured by Americans, Europeans, Chinese or Russians can be used by governments around the world for cyberwarfare, cyberespionage or cybercrime if they want to do this.
What the major difference between western democracies and China is that the Chinese government has a national policy that applies to all Chinese persons and companies – wherever they are – that their first loyalty must be with China and that they will have to act and behave in the interest of China. We see this for example in the case of Chinese students at overseas universities, there is plenty of evidence that indicates that propaganda is used to support that these Chinese nationals should put Chinese policies and values first. There are even Chinese offices in other countries that are preparing and providing this propaganda. If it comes to the crunch in relation to Huawei and ZTE they could be required by the Chinese Government to first of all act in their interest.
Buried by the current political circus is actually a development that has important ramifications for Australia's long-term future, especially for its bilateral relationship with China, national security, and digital economy: the Govt's effective ban of Huawei from 5G. https://t.co/emvmBwiM3h
— Adam Ni 倪凌超 (@adam_ni) August 23, 2018
If we compare this for example with the USA and look at the PRISM project from the National Security Agency (NSA) in the USA in 2013, this shows exactly that governments can infiltrate any network in the world. In this case, the American Government was able to infiltrate these networks for their own political use, it didn’t matter if these networks were built with American, European or Chinese hardware and software. In general, in relation to communication technologies it has become a cat and mouse game in relation to developing better security systems on the one hand and finding new technologies to hack into them on the other hand.
The main difference so far has been that the democratic processes and the democratic institutions in America (and for that matter in other Western Democratic Countries) are able to stop such illegal practices and put legislation and regulations in place to protect the democratic rights. In the case of China, such nuts and bolts are not in place and if the government does want to (mis)use communication networks, there are few or no institutions stopping them, furthermore they can “force” their nationals to adhere to their commands and because of the global nation of these networks this is of course a potential threat to the security of other countries.
While, as I mentioned, governments can infiltrate any network, the fact that networks developed by Chinese companies could be more easily brought under the political control of the Chinese Government is a threat that several countries have indicated is simply to big to ignore and they therefor ban the involvement of Chinese companies in what they see as critical infrastructure in their countries.
So the Huawei and ZTE issue is political not technical and Jeremy Mitchell, Director of Corporate & Public Affairs, Huawei, Australia didn’t hesitate to launch a stinging attack on Home Affairs Minister and would-be PM Dutton on Twitter:
Looks like the gloves are off at Huawei Australia. Its head of corporate affairs has strong words for the would-be Prime Minister and ex-Minister responsible for national security, Peter Dutton, who narrowly lost the leadership vote. pic.twitter.com/mSM4ZDSTTA
— David Ramli (@Davidramli) August 24, 2018
While it is sad to see this happening, I would have preferred a global attempt to take such a political threat away, so we can use the best and most competitive technologies available anywhere in the world, instead our industry is now unfortunately also part of the realpolitik that we as a global community are facing.
In the end, it is the end users of these technologies that are going to pay the price for all of this as we are no longer able to use market forces to get the best products and services as this this will now be overridden by politics. In the case of networks this could increase prices by 30 per cent or more and in the end it will be the consumers that will have to pay for that.
Paul Budde is one of the world’s foremost telecommunications management and business consultants. His expertise lies in his ability to analyse the telecommunications, internet, e-commerce and broadcasting markets, and to identify major business trends and developments in the digital, sharing and interconnected economy.
Paul’s extensive market knowledge, global network and strategic business advice can assist organisations and industry sectors to transform themselves, enabling them to take advantage of opportunities created by the digital economy.
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