If the US is able to convince its European Union allies to join Washington in an neo-Cold War “arms race” against Huawei, this will represent an unjust travesty in respect of consumer freedom, market freedom and the global connectivity that the EU so often claims to stand for. But if developing nations which rely on mobile infrastructure in order to achieve the things that many EU nations still rely on old terrestrial infrastructure in order to accomplish, decide to follow the US into a war against Huawei, such a war would actually be a war on one’s own people.
For those who rely on existing mobile technology for banking, business, health monitoring, maps with which to navigate remote areas and other utilitarian purposes, the power that 5G will unleash upon heavily mobile technology dependent societies will be revolutionary in the most positive sense of the word. As China and Huawei specifically is a global leader in the pioneering of 5G technology, any developing nation which delays engaging with Huawei for the loan or purchase of new 5G equipment, is essentially stealing the future from its own young population.
This is true specifically in respect of the developing countries of Africa where already, cost-effective 4G Chinese technology is powering commerce among entire populations. As 5G represents a substantial leap forward over 4G, African nations with poor physical infrastructure can jet ahead of more developed nations by pinning their development goals on 5G. Seeing as the dynamism of 5G powered remote surgery could likewise improve health standards in developing countries, this is all the more reason why any delay in the full implementation of 5G networks as soon as they go online, will represent not just a blunder but a substantial crime against the people.
Whilst western countries would likewise lose out if they followed their US partner down a path of hostility towards Huawei and other Chinese tech companies, the gap between already wealthy European countries and developing African countries in respect of transitioning to a new 5G mobile infrastructure is significant. This is true because whilst a lack of early 5G adoption in Europe will surely irk consumers and force certain sectors to fall behind those in the advanced economies of Asia, does not necessarily represent the difference between development and economic stagnation, in the way that it would be in nearly all of Africa Africa and certain parts of Asia.
Former US President and General Eisenhower said the following in 1953, during the first decade of the Cold War:
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed”.
While the new-Cold War of the 21st century does involve a literal arms race, it more importantly entails a digital/mobile arms race in which the US wants to cut its own people and its allies off from innovations from China that in many cases (especially in respect of 5G) are technologically superior and more cost effective vis-a-vis their US designed rivals. Given that the power of 5G can help to transform economies in a manner that will be on par with the last century’s strides in providing electricity and clean water to the masses, any country whose economic is developing and whose geo-political position is legally non-aligned, would be committing not just national suicide by choosing a side in the digital/mobile arms race, but would be committing national homicide.
Young people across Africa in particular seek the kind of optimism that can only be derived from new opportunities. As a nation at the forefront of seemingly futuristic but now practical technological developments and as a superpower that has never had an overseas colonial empire, it is imperative for African leaders to rise to the challenge and hold firm in their win-win partnerships with China. There is little doubt that after the US gets done pressuring the EU, Canada and Australia to effectively embargo Huawei due to the “security” canard that belongs to another century – Washington will then try to put the pressure on developing nations to do the same.
The leaders of multiple African and Asian nations ought to realise that in addition to the spirit of the Cold War being a relic that is unfit for an age shaped by the mentality of peace through prosperity, the war against Huawei is also a deeply racist one. Whilst US politicians do not say so in public, journalists, activities and supporters of western governments have filled the internet and even newspapers with Sinophobic rhetoric that is as racist as that which 19th century European colonists said about Africa.
Thus, the neo-Cold War against China combines the mentality of racist pre-1945 imperialism with the bullying tactics of the Cold War of the second half of the 20th century. As such, these militant racists are setting a trap for developing nations in which they will be wooed with false promises of prosperity if they join the hostile crusade against China. Just as the western neo-imperial powers consistently lied to Africa and most of Asia throughout the 20th century, the lies regarding Huawei are all the more devious, whilst being cast in the same mould.
The choice should be clear to any leader of a developing nation with a clean conscience – one can enslave one’s own people by entering into a hostile pact with the neo-colonial powers of the 21st century or one can build a harmonious future by embracing the sustained digital development that China can offer to the entire world.