The United States government is mounting another international push against Huawei as its 5G rivalry with China is heating up, together with other tensions between the world's two strongest economies. The Trump administration is now actively pressuring U.S. allies to cut ties with the Chinese telecom giant and not allow it to play a meaningful role in their upcoming rollouts of the fifth generation of mobile networks, a new report indicates.
The United Kingdom, Germany, and Poland are on the list of countries the federal government already asked to boycott Huawei, citing long-term concerns pertaining to a variety of geopolitical factors. The simplest explanation provided by the Trump administration is that 5G is a crucial technology that will shape countless other industries and the global economy as a whole, which is why it's arguing China can't be given the keys to the next-generation of networks that will be deployed in the West.
Washington's lobbying efforts also encompass ZTE and other China-based companies, regardless of whether they're privately owned or not. A long-held position of the Western intelligence community is that no Chinese firm can resist the communist government and avoid spying on its foreign clients, sharing their existing data, or compromising them in any other way. That stance has been at the center of the anti-Huawei sentiment that's been growing in the U.S. over the course of this century, though the Chinese company itself is also far from blameless for its poor relations with the stateside government; in the last decade alone, Huawei had been implicated in numerous trade secret theft and general patent infringement lawsuits, in addition to consistently refusing to shed significant light on its opaque ownership structure.
Besides talking the talk, the U.S. is also walking the walk when it comes to boycotting Huawei and other wireless equipment makers from China; the spending bill passed by Congress last summer included a provision specifically baring federal agencies from using Huawei- and ZTE-made equipment. Reports from several weeks back also suggested the White House is considering an executive order that would impose a virtually identical ban on private firms in the U.S. It's presently unclear whether that move is still being pondered.
Regardless, Washington-Beijing relations aren't getting any better in the meantime, largely due to the ongoing trade dispute that's likely to see a continuation of the currently suspended trade war, but also due to the Justice Department's accusations against Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. Ms. Meng, 46, was arrested in Vancouver on December 1 after the DOJ notified Canadian authorities she's an official suspect in an investigation concerning an illegal banking scheme which resulted in fraud and was aimed at circumventing the Commerce Department's trade embargoes imposed on Iran.
While the DOJ has yet to request Ms. Meng's extradition and has only three more days to do so, Canada sees that as a given. China saw the incident as an ill-intended political attack and took to arresting over a dozen Canadian nationals inside its borders, claiming the moves were unrelated. One of them received a death sentence for methamphetamine smuggling two weeks ago. In the meantime, Huawei is threatening with a complete exit from markets it doesn't find hospitable, though that's precisely what the U.S. government's goal is.