The Japanese government is looking to ban Huawei and ZTE from participating in the country's 5G race, Reuters reports, citing insiders familiar with the plan. The move is said to be part of Tokyo's wider effort aimed at bolstering its infrastructure and make it more resilient to cyber attacks, as per the same source. While the measure has yet to be officially confirmed, its publication could happen early next week. Geng Shuang, an official of China's Foreign Ministry, said Beijing is deeply concerned about the reports and called for Japan to ensure "a fair competition environment" for Chinese firms operating in its wireless segment, concluding that "mutual trust" is at stake. The new report emerged a mere day after Huawei CFO was arrested in Canada on a U.S. request over suspected involvement in a conspiracy to violate stateside trade sanctions against Iran, according to recent reports.
The U.S. continues lobbying against Chinese telecom tech
The development comes shortly after the United States started global lobbying efforts against Chinese telecom technologies among its allies. In a statement provided to media outlets, Tokyo's chief spokesperson Yoshihide Suga acknowledged Japan always has an open line with Washington in regards to various topics — cybersecurity included — but declined to offer any commentary on the newly reported plan. The U.S. lobbying movement against Huawei and ZTE's technologies continues to this date, with various members of the stateside intelligence community and government officials raising concerns about the national security implications of such solutions.
A long history of regulatory issues
Under China's existing laws, Beijing is able to force domestic companies to comply with a wide variety of information requests with little justification and in a highly straightforward manner. While Huawei and ZTE previously argued the American government is able to do the same to its own companies, the stateside legal protections and probable cause requirements are significantly higher than their Chinese counterparts, especially when it comes to broad information requests. While no concrete evidence of government-sponsored spying on ZTE or Huawei's part ever emerged, the Western intelligence community often argued the crux of the issue isn't what happened in the past but what could realistically happen in the future, which is the basis of many problems the two companies encountered in the U.S. and allied countries since the turn of the century.
China's wireless segment facing many new problems
Huawei previously said it isn't worried about the recently launched U.S. ban on its technologies prompting more similar moves in other parts of the world but that's precisely what now appears to be happening. South Korea is presently understood to be pondering a similar ban on Chinese telecom tech and Australia already enacted such a measure this summer, causing anger from China. While Huawei remains the world's largest manufacturer of wireless equipment, an inability to create a global 5G footprint could result in a significant hit to its business that's dependent on remaining at the very edge of technological innovations. Ultimately, Beijing's calls for a level playing field in the international wireless segment won't amount to much just based on the fact that China enforces strict regulations on foreign investments in its own backyard and hence isn't in a geopolitical position to argue for an opposite philosophy from other nations.