Attorney General William Barr has said this week that China’s continued dominance of 5G networks should be considered one of America’s top national security and economic threats.
Barr amplified warnings that have been issued for years, by multiple intelligence officials. However, President Trump has sometimes undermined them, believing that America will win the 5G race, despite China’s lead.
Barr warned that if America allows China to establish dominance over 5G it would be a “monumental danger”, as the technology could be used for monitoring and surveillance. He also went on to say that “the stakes are far higher than that”.
“Our economic future is at stake,” Mr. Barr said in a speech. “The risk of losing the 5G struggle with China should vastly outweigh other considerations.”
China holds all the cards
Barr explained that two Chinese telecoms technology companies, Huawei and ZTE, account for 40% of global 5G infrastructure. This is an industry that will provide trillions of dollars and China owns almost half of it. He also noted that this is the first time in history that America wasn’t leading in a major technology sector.
However, Huawei and ZTE continue to play an essential role in the new 5G networks being built globally. Whilst Trump has attempted to restrain Huawei with bans against its 5G technology, the company continues to provide equipment to other countries, including the UK.
Barr commented on the Huawei ban stating that, “It’s all very well to tell our friends and allies that they shouldn't install Huawei, but whose infrastructure are they going to install?”
He did agree that too few companies were making 5G equipment, with Nokia and Ericsson being China’s telecoms only other main global competitors. If an alternative to Huawei isn’t found, and America doesn’t win the 5G race, we could potentially see a shift in the balance of power when it comes to technological development, as the cloud and IoT become increasingly important to businesses around the world.
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