New Cold War: How Huawei is a Technological Flashpoint between US and China
The tech war is finally here and it does not look pretty. The US believes that Chinese technology firm Huawei uses tools that spy on the American public. The US has been attacking Huawei for a year now under the pretense of national security, the Chinese giant denies this allegation. The US had earlier restricted American companies from dealing with Huawei, however, Huawei was able to find a loop in the law and get away with it. The US finally got around this loophole, on March 15th when the biggest economy of the world announced that no American microchip can be used to make Huawei’s products.
“We aren’t doing business with Huawei”: Trump.
This means that those foreign foundries that were designing chips based on Huawei’s design won’t be using American technology. This is a major blow to Huawei as American microchips are used throughout the world. Firms like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) who have been associated with Huawei for a long time will have to break that partnership. This restriction will be enforced from September 2020, companies will have to apply for licenses and show that they are not working with Huawei, those found working with Huawei won’t be given the license.
This has widespread repercussions throughout the world. Huawei is the world’s leading 5G technology firm. It has contracts spread across the UK and India. China has threatened that if the new restrictions are enforced then American manufacturers will face counter restrictions. A firm like Apple will be in the midst of this tech war as it has a huge manufacturing plant in China. Telecom service providers in India like Airtel and Vodafone are watching the development with extreme caution as they have been dealing with Huawei to upgrade India’s 5G capacity.
This tech war has a lot of underlying meaning behind it. The US does not want to cede its position to China as a technology giant. This is a special kind of situation, countries should ideally come together during these tough times to fight the pandemic but we are seeing two superpowers embroiled in a battle for tech superiority.
This tech war might just translate into a new Cold War between China and the US. The original Cold War involved military and nuclear weapons at the forefront. This new cold war has technology as the primary component followed by the military. China is said to have secretive military technology where it is building hypersonic jets, it is believed that China is way ahead of the US when it comes to this kind of technology.
This new Cold War is going to define the decade of 2020, it is not going to be the same as the old Cold War as power blocs are way more complicated than the old ones. The UK, perceived to be USA’s next best ally, was set to use Huawei in setting up 5G (There is a security review by Britain which may cancel the deal, could be interpreted as US pressure). India, once an adversary and now a strong ally of the US, is extending its tech support to Huawei for 5G purposes.
As the Trump doctrine is forcing America to turn inwards it will continue to be hostile to those countries that it sees as a threat. If Trump is re-elected this year we can expect belligerent policies towards China and the communist country will hit back the way it deems fit. The two superpowers are on a path towards a dangerous decoupling that will have consequences around the globe.