In a letter released Wednesday, six former combatant commanders and intelligence chiefs outlined “grave concerns” about risks posed by Chinese-developed 5G networks, including espionage, constraints on U.S. military operations, and threats to democracy and human rights. The letter is available here and below.
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Based on cybersecurity concerns, the United States, Australia and New Zealand have staked out policy positions that prevent or strongly discourage the acquisition of Huawei 5G technology for use in the national communications infrastructure of these nations. Other U.S. allies have announced or are considering policy positions that do not go so far and would indeed allow such acquisition at least to some extent.
5G promises to revolutionize how people use technology. From transportation to health care to entertainment, the way people interact with wireless internet devices will change substantially. And as 5G enables data to be transmitted much more quickly, the number of devices connected to the internet will likely explode, producing massive economic benefits for those who can quickly take full advantage of the new technology.
The future of American semiconductor innovation—and the price of future smartphones—may hinge on what is happening in a San Jose courtroom. In the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, companies including Apple, Blackberry, Ericsson, Intel, LG, MediaTek, Huawei and Samsung have testified on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission’s application of traditional anti-trust concepts to rein in practices by Qualcomm that harm consumers, competition and innovation.
The Trump administration’s effort to protect the security of fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless networks by limiting the deployment of Chinese technology both domestically and globally melds trade policy with cybersecurity policy. On both counts, it should not be considered sufficient.