May 03, 2019

The 5G Future Is Not Just About Huawei

By Kara Frederick

This week, representatives from the United States and more than 30 European Union and NATO countries met in Prague to hash out security principles for 5G—fifth-generation wireless networks. The meeting was convened by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis to bring like-minded nations together to agree on non-binding recommendations to safely introduce 5G within their respective countries. Nonetheless, ahead of the summit, Germany and the United Kingdom decided to allow Huawei equipment as part of their 5G networks. The United States cannot adopt this approach.

Quiet quarantines and soft bans, which would be consistent with a softening diplomatic tone toward China, won’t protect U.S. digital infrastructure. Instead, U.S. President Donald Trump should sign the pending executive order that would ban Huawei and other Chinese companies from U.S. networks. Doing so would achieve two things: First, the United States’ decision to exclude Chinese companies would provide cover for allies seeking to enact their own stringent measures against China, whether outright bans or more rigorous security protocols. Second, signing the executive order would communicate that the United States seeks to protect against systemic security risks that go well beyond Huawei—that the security of 5G networks is nonnegotiable.

It is hard to overstate the value of U.S. cover on Huawei issue. Before choosing Huawei rival Ericsson to build Denmark’s 5G network, the Danish defense minister lamented that his hands were tied when it came to legislating against Huawei. Poland also signaled in January that it wanted to take a harder line against the firm, before reevaluating its stance in recent weeks. And amid warnings of Huawei’s close relationship to the Chinese state from his country’s security services, Norway’s justice minister admitted his government was looking at “steps taken in the United States and Britain” in advance of a final decision on whether to exclude the company from building its 5G network.

Read the full article in Foreign Policy.

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