The rivalry between the U.S. and China over next-generation technology has entered a new stage. One of the highest-ranking officials at Huawei Technologies Co., a leading Chinese telecommunications firm, was arrested by Canadian authorities on suspicion of violating U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. The move is sparking strong protests from China. Coupled with the ongoing trade war, this may cause tensions between the U.S. and China to intensify.
Huawei is the world’s largest supplier of cellular phone equipment. It has operations in more than 170 countries, including Japan, and is the industry leader in next-generation “5G” high-speed technology.
The U.S. is nervous about “Made in China 2025,” an economic blueprint designed to make China the world’s leader in the high-tech industry. The Huawei executive under arrest is the daughter of the founder of one of the core firms involved in that initiative. It makes sense that the situation is being viewed as a battle between the U.S. and China to win the upper hand in the global high-tech industry
The U.S. has been warning that Chinese telecommunications equipment poses national security risks, such as possible information leaks. In August, the National Defense Authorization Act was enacted to ban government agencies from procuring equipment produced by Huawei and other manufacturers. The U.S. government is requesting Japan and other allies to follow suit.
Japan decided to fall into step with the U.S. without identifying the names of Chinese firms. It is important for Japan to work closely with its ally on issues concerning national security, but it also needs to take care not to create unwanted tension with China.
Last year China enacted a “National Intelligence Law” to require its people as well as businesses to cooperate with the nation’s intelligence work. The founder of Huawei hails from the Chinese military and his close ties with the military have been pointed out many times.
Many countries are growing leery of the unique relationship between China’s government and business sector. To avoid tensions, China needs to increase transparency and take measures to adhere to global rules.
China criticizes Canada for violating human rights, but it should come to realize that many people believe Canada’s judicial system is fairer than China’s.
The U.S. suspects that China is mounting cyberattacks to steal technology . China needs to join international efforts to build a mechanism to prevent cyberattacks.
If the U.S. takes a forceful approach in trying to contain the rise of China, it will destabilize international politics and economy. Thus far, the U.S. and China are in agreement that the arrest of the Huawei executive and the trade war are two separate issues. For the time being, they should concentrate on proceeding with their trade negotiations in a cool-headed manner until the deadline for concluding them at the end of February.