Hong Kong’s Deployment of Chinese Soldiers Set to Ratchet Up Sino-U.S. Tech War

November 18, 2019 Updated: November 18, 2019

News Analysis

The Sino-U.S. Tech War is set to ratchet up after soldiers from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) swarmed Hong Kong streets following several nights of student protests.

Chinese mainland soldiers in precision military formations ran out early on Nov. 17 from the former HMS Tamar naval base on Hong Kong’s Lung Wui Road on a mission to clean up the streets after four days of escalating violence. As fires blazed through at the doorstep to Hong Kong Polytechnic University, police fired volleys of tear gas and in response, student protestors hurled “Molotov cocktails” at them.

With the embattled Hong Kong government acknowledging to reporters they did not request the inflammatory PLA deployment as a “voluntary community activity,” the military intervention is expected to further ratchet up the Sino-U.S. Tech War.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping unveiled his “Made in China 2025” plan in 2015 to comprehensively upgrade China’s industrial base to raise the domestic content for core technological components and materials to 40 percent in 2020 and 70 percent in 2025.

The Rand Corporation perceived Xi’s declaration as a direct economic and national security threat to the United States. Its “U.S.-China Evolving Balance of Power Scorecard” report revealed China’s PLA had already “transformed itself from a large but antiquated force into a capable modern military.” The modernization was rated as having eliminated America’s advantage in a conventional military conflict over Taiwan and was on a path to achieve domination of the 482,000 square mile East China Sea.

Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign promise to stop U.S. job outsourcing morphed after his election into a Tech War with the passage of the Export Control Reform Act of 2018. The legislation allows the Commerce Department to categorize what Chinese “emerging and foundational technologies” are problematic to U.S. security and lays the groundwork for concrete measures to address them, including export controls, import bans, and limits on research and development collaborations.

The China telecommunications giant and 5G leader Huawei was placed on a U.S. blacklist that restricts the company’s access to U.S. technology for national security concerns that its networking installations could aid Beijing’s espionage efforts.

But the breadth of the U.S. confronting tech-transfer was expanded on Nov. 1 with the U.S. Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) stating the acquisition of social media app Musical.ly by TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Technology, may represent a national security risk associated with TikTok’s geolocation capability tracking military and tech leader family members.

According to Geopolitical Futures, TikTok’s 500 million Generation Z (those born between 1996 and 2010, following Millenials) users making 15-second clips of very Gen Z things has not been associated with high-tech applications transferable to battlefields such as artificial intelligence.

However, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pressed the Secretary of the Army last month to stop using TikTok as a recruiting tool, because TikTok is not allowed in China and is currently collecting a huge amount of data on 80 million Americans. Schumer emphasized that China’s 2017 “National Intelligence Law” codifies that citizens have a legal duty to fully cooperate with China state intelligence and security agencies.

Geopolitical Futures suggests that with such an analysis blurring the lines between commercial and military intelligence technologies, virtually any emerging Chinese technology could be deemed to be a threat to U.S. national security. Examples could include weaponizing Chinese-made train cars to paralyze major U.S. cities and rigging Chinese-made smart refrigerators to shut down on command to starve American cities.

Sending PLA troops into the streets of Hong Kong to intimidate student protestors brings back memories of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square military crackdown that left thousands of student protestors dead. The American public was so outraged by the televised slaughter that former President George H.W. Bush was forced to place sanctions on China, the U.S. announced the sale of F-16s to Taiwan in 1992, and China in 1993 lost its bid to host the 2000 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Chriss Street is an expert in macroeconomics, technology, and national security. He has served as CEO of several companies and is an active writer with more than 1,500 publications. He also regularly provides strategy lectures to graduate students at top Southern California universities.

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