Technology

America’s ban on Chinese technology doesn’t stick

In 2019, the White House announced that the phones and Internet equipment of Chinese technology companies should be removed from all corners of the United States because they pose an unacceptable risk of theft or terrorism by the Chinese government.

More than three years later, most of the equipment remains.

Today I will look at how the United States handled equipment from two companies. China, Huawei and ZTE. I will explore what this can tell us about America’s ability to effectively deal with China’s technology concerns, such as apps like TikTok, and its efforts to become self-sufficient in the production and design of computer chips.

Technology will no longer be an American monopoly, as it has been for the past half century, and the United States must devise and implement plans to help it benefit from global technological developments while preserving American security and innovation. But the story of Chinese equipment shows that we have a long way to go.

Some US officials believe that the continued use of equipment from Huawei and ZTE is a serious threat to America’s national security. Other policy experts I’ve spoken to say it presents an unreasonable risk and that it may not be worth trying to remove all devices immediately.

What is clear is that the US says that the ban on Chinese technology is urgent and Can’t make it jam.

Dismantling Huawei and ZTE devices, which are mostly used in rural areas of the US, won’t be easy, and complications related to the pandemic have made things worse. But critics of the U.S. approach say the way officials are handling it hurts American businesses and consumers without making the country safer.

Let me trace how this all started. For about a decade, U.S. officials have repeatedly said that phones and Internet devices from Huawei and ZTE could be used as gateways for Chinese government espionage or to disrupt critical U.S. communications. Those warnings have prompted the biggest U.S. phone and Internet companies, such as AT&T and Verizon, to stay away from buying the device.

Almost everyone in the US government and business community working on this issue says it’s the right thing to do. (There’s less consensus about the cognitive limitations of Huawei’s smartphones.) Huawei and ZTE have consistently said those security concerns are unfounded, and the U.S. government has never provided public evidence of its allegations.

Small companies, mostly in rural areas, are not discouraged from buying Huawei and ZTE equipment. They continued to buy products from various companies, such as devices such as home internet modems and devices to transmit cell phone signals.

The US government declared that it was too risky. As of 2019, the US has effectively ordered all companies with Huawei and ZTE gear to replace it. The government has pledged taxpayers’ money to help pay for equivalent equipment from US or European companies.

The Federal Communications Commission has estimated that the cost of replacing Chinese equipment is about 2 billion dollars. An updated estimate released last month showed it was around $5 billion. It will take time for the FCC and Congress to figure out how to pay the amount small telecom companies say they want. At this time, many of these carriers have not yet begun to replace Huawei and ZTE devices, as Politico reported last month.

There is an indication of how this happened. Parliament forced small companies, and then did not comply with the money. US officials waffled on what kind of equipment Huawei and ZTE should be replaced. Delayed and confusing official messages slow down the process.

Naomi Wilson, an Asia policy expert at ITI, a trade group for US technology and telecommunications companies, told me that the first estimate for device replacement was a best guess that proved to be too low. Inflation, supply chain issues and the trade war between the US and China have increased prices.

One big question is whether this drama can be avoided. I asked Paul Triolo, senior vice president of China at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a strategy firm, if the United States had a good plan with chaotic execution or if the strategy was misguided to begin with. He said it was a little of both.

Mr Triolo said the US government could phase out Huawei and ZTE equipment over several years – similar to the British approach – and remove certain types of Chinese equipment near sensitive sites such as military installations. While the United States said it needed to eliminate the risk of the equipment quickly, but all the items remain, he said.

Triolo and some China policy experts I’ve spoken with are concerned that America’s approach to Chinese technology isn’t always effective or focused on the right things.

The United States is also concerned about the potential for TikTok or other apps from Chinese companies to collect sensitive information about Americans or spread Chinese government propaganda. Policymakers have yet to find ways to address those concerns or make much progress regarding China’s relentless cyberattacks on American government agencies and companies.

The authorities did not have an equal message about the creation of a domestic computer chip industry. to oppose China. And if the United States wants to keep American technology strong, it could do more to support the immigration of tech professionals or repeal Chinese tariffs that hurt Americans.

In theory, the United States can do it all. Officials can protect the country from dangers that may arise from foreign countries and foreign countries. The money, money and intelligence needed to support the best policies for innovation. of America. Instead, we have a lot of bits and pieces that haven’t been added yet.

Read a recent On Tech newsletter about how the US is responding to Chinese technology:


  • Taiwan manufactures the most important electronic equipment in the world: My colleagues Paul Mozur and Raymond Zhong explained why advanced computer chips were part of the backdrop for Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this week.

  • There is no simple blueprint to Internet fame and fortune: The course suggests that people can become famous online by paying freelancers to upload YouTube videos with similar content, such as never-before-seen storytelling, catchy topics or top 10 lists about celebrities. My colleague Nico Grant reports that this proposition can’t be lost. It can definitely be lost.

  • She makes dudes roasting live online. Drew Afualo created some of TikTok’s most popular videos with verbal abuse to express racism, fatphobia and misogyny, Bloomberg News reports. (Application may be required.)

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