China’s 5G Tech Threat: Time to Stop the Digital Malware Pandemic

June 2, 2021 Updated: June 2, 2021


Mounting evidence strongly indicates the COVID-19/Wuhan virus escaped from a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan in November 2019.

An accidental or premeditated release? The motive matters.

However, this chain of events is certain: The initial incident caused the disease to spread throughout China. The embarrassed Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime failed to alert the world and thus failed to provide life-saving information. That self-serving decision exported the disease to the rest of the planet. In effect, the CCP used the virus as a biological and economic weapon to cripple other nations and make certain China didn’t suffer alone.

In my opinion, it’s fair to call the disease the Chinese Communist Party virus. Some exemplary news organizations already do so.

Human lives—all human lives—matter most. However, in the digital age, trustworthy computer and communications systems also matter, and digital systems are linked tightly to the daily lives of human beings. Emergency medical services use them, so digital communication is a life and death matter.

On a global scale, China exports, with cold calculation and premeditation, technology that threatens to corrupt or destroy digital computer, communication and control systems. The 5G digital control and communications equipment manufactured by Huawei, a Chinese technology conglomerate with deep ties to the CCP, are a particularly egregious example.

5G “next generation” wireless communication systems are an information battlespace. 5G has the ability to connect cellphones, the Internet, the internet of things—all digital devices, which could include controls on a hydroelectric dam (SCADA, in the lingo). What if a terrorist or a saboteur were to open the floodgates of a major dam in, say, Egypt, or, heaven forbid, California? If the saboteur were a Chinese agent, would this be an act of war waged by China?

The dam scenario isn’t hyperbolic. Western defense and intelligence services believe equipment and software provided by Huawei and other Chinese companies are potentially covert weapons.

Attack example: The controlling power taps a keypad or activates an embedded “hidden trigger” and—well, the Colonial Pipeline shipping gas to the U.S. southeast shuts down. Or Californians drown.

China’s shady tech can cause grievous economic damage and seed social disruption on a nationwide or even continental scale.

Historical perspective: During the Cold War, “dual-use” indicated that a weapon system could deliver conventional or nuclear weapons. Think of Huawei’s communication and control systems as a Trojan horse capable of handling phone calls but also launching an intercontinental digital attack.

The Trump administration concluded Huawei-supplied communications and control hardware could contain malicious code (malware) or embedded “backdoors” an adversary (i.e., China) could exploit to control American or allied networks.

This China-spawned digital epidemic (threat) must be stopped.

The Trump administration undertook several savvy initiatives to stop it. For starters, it named Huawei 5G as a specific risk and stopped U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei. In April 2020, it created the Clean Network program. Clean Network is a comprehensive attempt to protect the privacy and information of American citizens and corporations “from aggressive intrusions by malign actors.” Hint: China is a malign actor.

Numerous countries have joined the Clean Network, from the Balkans to East Asia. In early May 2021, India agreed to consider western and South Korean 5G mobile phone equipment but nixed Chinese manufacturers.

As May 2021 began, the National Security Agency, Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a report that warned international “standard-setting bodies” for 5G had displayed signs of “undue influence” from “adversarial nations” that sought to promote their technology. Alas, in May 2021, in the era of the Biden administration, the report does not name names.

Recall China unduly (insidiously) influenced the World Health Organization to curb criticism of its handling of COVID-19.

China is up to the same game with its corrupt, weaponized technology.

Austin Bay is a colonel (ret.) in the U.S. Army Reserve, author, syndicated columnist, and teacher of strategy and strategic theory at the University of Texas–Austin. His latest book is “Cocktails from Hell: Five Wars Shaping the 21st Century.”

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

Austin Bay
Austin Bay
Austin Bay is a colonel (ret.) in the U.S. Army Reserve, author, syndicated columnist, and teacher of strategy and strategic theory at the University of Texas–Austin. His latest book is “Cocktails from Hell: Five Wars Shaping the 21st Century.”