Ban Huawei to Escape China’s Digital Dictatorial Embrace

January 31, 2019 Updated: February 1, 2019


Free nations of the world have a choice: They can ban Chinese telecommunications giants such as Huawei and ZTE from building or dominating their next-generation “5G” digital communication networks, or they can let them in and watch their sovereignty and freedoms fade into the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) global digital dictatorship.

China’s digital dictatorship technology is on constant display and is for sale at electronics and military exhibitions around the world. The FBI notes that ZTE alone is building 150 “smart cities” in China, and the list could grow to 500.

Smart cities allow Chinese police and intelligence services to correlate data from millions of video surveillance cameras with vast databases containing intimate internet and phone activity, biometric, medical, and DNA data to assemble expansive profiles of the lives of Chinese citizens. Authorities then can construct individual “social credit” scores that rate loyalty to the CCP, which will then be used to determine an individual’s success in life, from education to employment, domicile, and permission to travel abroad.

Huawei already is at the forefront of building smart cities into stronger weapons to enable Chinese police and intelligence organs to better suppress the restive Muslim region of Xinjiang. Last year, Huawei revealed an “intelligent security industry” innovation laboratory in Urumqi, and a May 2018 Huawei press release stated, “Together with the Public Security Bureau, Huawei will unlock a new era of smart policing and help build a safer, smarter society.”

Chinese weapons-sales companies such as the China Electronics Technology Corporation (CETC) likely will market integrated smart cities at the world’s largest ground-forces military exhibition, Abu Dhabi’s IDEX exhibition, which starts Feb. 17.

The local offices of Chinese telecom firm Huawei in Warsaw, Poland, on Jan. 11, 2019 (Reuters/Kacper Pempel)
The local offices of Chinese telecom firm Huawei in Warsaw, Poland, on Jan. 11, 2019 (Reuters/Kacper Pempel)

While Huawei has had success in selling its integrated smart-city electronic infrastructure to the German city of Duisburg, the company also claims it has sold to 120 other cities its “Rhine Cloud,” a “Public Services Cloud Platform” that allows city maintenance and governance functions to be combined in a single database.

However, Huawei and ZTE communication networks in foreign countries also are deployed weapons that assist China’s foreign espionage, surveillance, and warfare objectives. Bill Gertz has reported that former Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden told Australian newspapers that Huawei has “shared with the Chinese state intimate and extensive knowledge of the foreign telecommunications systems it is involved with.”

In late 2017, African officials in the new Chinese-designed, built, and paid-for African Union headquarters building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, discovered that their Huawei and ZTE-built internet system was downloading contents daily to a server in Shanghai.

Following the Jan. 11 arrest in Poland of Huawei sales official and likely trained intelligence operative Wang Weijing, Poland’s Internal Affairs Minister Joachim Brudzinski on Jan. 13 called for a European Union and NATO joint policy on whether to exclude Huawei from their markets.

The latest U.S. Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Donald Trump in August 2018, bans the U.S. government from using Huawei and ZTE equipment. Now, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, India, and Canada have either implemented, or are considering, similar bans.

The Dec. 1, 2018, arrest, at Washington’s request, of Meng Wanzhou—company heir-apparent and daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei—related to the company’s alleged violations of U.S. technology embargos on Iran, sparked a diplomatic furor. China almost immediately arrested two Canadians in retaliation and retried another Canadian already in a Chinese jail, before upgrading his punishment to a death sentence.

But it’s Canada’s review of whether to ban Huawei’s new 5G technology from its markets that has prompted special Chinese outrage. On Jan. 17, Chinese Ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye publicly threatened “repercussions” if Canada bans Huawei 5G technology.

The Chinese regime is now fighting for Huawei’s right to upgrade global computer connectivity networks to 5G from 4G because the new technology represents a leap from a soda straw to a firehose in digital power. Very soon, 5G networks will be enabling next-generation capabilities in artificial intelligence and the “internet of things,” such as the future ability of your computer-controlled house to operate your computer-driven car.

For militaries around the world, artificial intelligence, 5G technology, and advances in quantum computing could enable the first secure unmanned aircraft, ships, and robot soldiers capable of the myriad decisions necessary for autonomous combat. China’s understanding of these future trends prompted its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in late 2015 to form the Strategic Support Force (SSF), the world’s first distinct military service charged with exploiting advances such as artificial intelligence, 5G, quantum computing, and space warfare, so as to achieve next-generation levels of cyber intelligence, surveillance, and warfare.

Crucial to the success of the PLA-SSF is access to, or even control of, new 5G networks built by companies such as Huawei and ZTE. The PLA-SSF could leap from running minor cyber influence operations (such as ballooning social-media traffic to favor opposition candidates in Taiwan’s recent elections), to creating real-time artificial newsfeeds to shape the behavior of governments during crises.

The PLA-SSF also could gather intimate databases on the citizenry of target countries so as to assign individual and national “social credit” scores, issuing positive and negative incentives, in the effort to build “compliant” populations around the world. Another crucial future SSF mission would be to take control of the unmanned military forces of China’s enemies.

That’s the real reason China is meting out death sentences to Canadians and screaming to defend its “right” to build 5G networks around the world. China wants to lock you up in its digital dictatorship before your government wakes up to it.

Rick Fisher is a senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center and author of “China’s Military Modernization: Building for Regional and Global Reach.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.