Trump Administration Wants Clean 5G Networks Free of China State Actors
Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State for the Trump administration has announced the launch of the expansion of the Clean Network program, outlining five new lines of defense to protect America’s critical telecommunications and technology infrastructure from untrusted Chinese state-owned enterprises like Huawei and ZTE.
The Clean Network program is the latest initiative in the Trump Administrations' war on China’s tech invasion. The five-pronged approach aims to enhance the safeguarding of United States data and sensitive information from aggressive attacks and intrusions by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) through state-owned enterprise actors.
US-China Tech War Bubbling
The Trump Administration’s scrutiny of China’s tech firms and their services operating in the United States has been well documented in recent weeks as TikTok, the Chinese social media app has come under fire for alleged data sharing with the Chinese Communist Party, an allegation that parent company ByteDance Ltd has strongly denied.
Currently, over 30% of the world’s smartphone sales come from Chinese vendors Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo. The tech firms so far have been able to enjoy a relatively open mobile ecosystem, in which consumers in most countries can freely access the likes of Google, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
The Clean Network program aims to flush out any transmission, control, computing, or storage equipment from untrusted IT vendors, such as Huawei and ZTE, which US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo asserted are “required to comply with directives of the Chinese Communist Party."
The Clean Network program is an expansion of the internationally accepted digital trust standards and built upon the 5G Clean Path—which is a coalition of like-minded free countries and companies aiming to secure their critical telecommunications, cloud, data analytics, mobile apps, Internet of Things, and 5G technologies from malign actors. As announced on April 29, 2020, the 5G Clean Path will rely on only trusted telecommunications and technology vendors who are not subject to unjust or extra-judicial control by authoritarian governments, specifically China.
While Huawei has already had their access restricted from key Google services, which has crippled much of their overseas phone sales. Other Chinese telecommunications companies could suffer the same setback as Huawei, should the Clean Network be applied to them, which is very likely at this stage.
Beijing responded on Aug 5, saying that it is strongly opposed to US restrictions on Chinese tech firms and dismissed the United States measures as actions to preserve its own technological dominance.
The Five-Pronged Approach
According to the official statement by Pompeo on Aug 5, the programs of the Clean Network initiative are “rooted in internationally accepted digital trust standards and built upon the 5G Clean Path initiative [….] to secure data traveling on 5G networks into U.S. diplomatic facilities overseas and within the United States.”
The five new lines of effort for the clean network will basically remove block Chinese telecommunications carriers, applications, cloud, cable, and data storage services from United States 5G networks.
While the Clean Network program is currently aimed at protecting US data and information, the momentum for the program is growing. More than thirty countries and territories are now Clean Countries, and many of the world’s biggest telecommunications companies are Clean Telcos. All have committed to exclusively using trusted vendors in their Clean Networks.
Pompeo wrote, “The United States calls on our allies and partners in government and industry around the world to join the growing tide to secure our data from the CCP’s surveillance state and other malign entities. Building a Clean fortress around our citizens’ data will ensure all of our nations’ security.”
With the growing enthusiasm to block malicious data and IP theft, as well as the growing mistrust for the CCP, the initiative when it comes into full effect will most likely be devastating for Chinese tech firms' sales and services globally.
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