In one of the key episodes of the 20th century, President Kennedy appeared on American television giving an ultimatum to the Russians. He demanded the removal of missiles from Cuba and threatened a new invasion of the island – the previous one failed in the Bay of Pigs – of ninety thousand U.S. soldiers. At the most delicate moment of the Cold War, it was Khrushchev’s turn to move, as he already had nuclear submarines in the area and seemed to be facing the dilemma of war or a humiliating surrender for the USSR.
Negotiating experts often say that when the parties make their positions public, the agreement is much less likely. Any cession, change or proposal is read as a gesture of weakness and what is to be expected is nothing but more extreme positions and tougher messages. In recent weeks tweet to tweet, Trump has brought the trade war with China to a situation of this kind, the responses of the government of Xi Jinping have only added fuel to the fire.
There are still the hot bodies of the last battle. On attacks, reactions and number of wounded we have written a lot in Xataka: the case of Google and USA vs Huawei and China, is undoubtedly one of the big news of the year for a medium of technology. It coincides that in addition that it is also for one of politics, international information and economic. And it is at this point that questions arise beyond whether my Huawei mobile will continue to work.
The 5G could be one of the keys to the motivation of this war. If it ends up being true that it is going to be a key technology for the next great generation of digital products and services, whoever gets there sooner and better has a lot to gain economically.
In the previous battle, the Trump administration had chosen the 5G deployment as a target. A local veto in the United States and a passive-aggressive petition bordering on the demand that their allies not accept Huawei as a supplier. This episode is of special importance for two reasons: one is that a large part of the Western bloc -especially European countries- have refused to obey Trump’s proposal; the other is that 5G could be one of the keys to motivating this war. If it ends up being true that it is going to be a key technology for the next great generation of digital products and services, whoever arrives sooner and better has a lot to gain economically.
The fact is that Huawei is not only a reference in network equipment for 5G telecoms, it is that it is a year or two ahead of its competitors. The first attack by the United States did not seem to be achieving its objectives (the Chinese have long been clear that they are not going to be the ones who mount the networks of the telecos USA, with the rest of the planet is already doing well) but also the block of Western allies was divided and Europe could gain an advantage in the 5G.
The steps of the Trump government against China and its justification are well known, surely by the readers of Xataka in which the subject has appeared again and again. There is a part of the discourse that points to espionage and theft of intellectual property, but this argument has two problems to convince. One is the failure to present evidence that could persuade public opinion or US partners (and Germany is very easy to convince when evidence of espionage is presented to its population and its industry) and the other is the displacement of the battlefield: moving from networks to mobile phones without it seeming clear that this is an element of this alleged espionage.
In the episode of Despeja la X in which Alejandro Nieto and a server have entered into these questions, a key topic has appeared to debate one of these big questions: if in the United States they have reasons that justify the veto of Huawei and the attack on Chinese commercial interests and if they are the same ones that he argues before the media and citizens. Without going into the full detail of the podcast episode, two factors deserve consideration. One is that there is asymmetry between China’s demands for foreign companies that want to operate there (also discussed in this issue of Magnet) and at the same time there is a program and a competition reading by Trump.
This view is based on the fact that the trade balance between the two powers is very favourable to the Chinese and that Trump reflects the preferences of an electorate to which the measures that seem to promote industry and work in the country, certain tactical protectionism and messages of hard negotiator against rivals resonate well. And it is this turning point in the American vision of China that has changed the most in the Bush-Obama-Trump evolution: for decades Chinese growth (with all its commercial traps) has also meant a lot of business and profit for American companies, but America remained calm while in Asia there was the toy factory or the one designed in California.
In the turn to artificial intelligence and networks of last generation the alarm has jumped. Accompanying indicators and projections the Chinese dream of presenting themselves to the world as inventors and not as replicators or factory workers has been paused. In the symbolic field, but also in the practical field of business and economic growth (Economist has a special fantastic on the very recent subject), China is postulated as a power capable of positioning itself on a par with the United States and propose an alternative model to the hegemonic one after the end of the cold war.