The United States government continues to try and coerce its traditional European partners into to banning the Chinese tech firm Huawei from building European 5G mobile networks. In an attempt to stifle free market competition and consumer choice through scare tactics involving alleged but unsubstantiated security issues, Washington hopes to develop a preferential role for its domestic 5G companies in Europe, in spite of the fact that it is generally acknowledged that Huawei is the global leader in 5G technology.
However, Europe’s wealthiest country, Germany has thus far been reticent to jump aboard the anti-Huawei bandwagon. Now, a German government official has explained his country’s position under the condition of anonymity. According to a new report, the official in Angela Merkel’s government stated that it “was not legally viable” to unilaterally ban Huawei from tendering an open market offer to construct a modern 5G network in Germany. As Germany is the European Union’s strongest economy, this decision by Berlin will have Europe wide implications.
Even in public, Berlin has signalled a reticence to adopt the blanket anti-Huawei tactics of the US. Recently, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier stated that rather than target any specific company in what would amount to a technology embargo, Germany would instead subject all potential tech partners to strict and comprehensive security tests in order to determine their viability in the European market. As Huawei 4G technology has not caused any security issues in Europe, it remains bizarre to suggest that Huawei’s new 5G technology would be any different from this standpoint.
As China and the US are the main countries driving new 5G technology, Europe will ultimately have to decide on which Chinese or American companies to procure contracts with in respect of building 5G networks throughout the EU. Clearly, Germany prefers an open market approach rather than one which follows the anti-free trade mentality of the Trump administration.
Below is Eurasia Future’s full analysis on why Europe must priorities free markets in mobile technology rather than retrench itself behind America’s protectionist walls.
US founding father Benjamin Franklin famously stated that “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety“. Today, whether in the US, Canada or in the European Union, the pantomime false flag of “security” is being used to justify restrictions on consumer liberty in matters that have nothing to do with protecting the safety of human beings, but have everything to do with protecting corporate interests. What for the US is a geo-strategic ‘great game’ against the rise of Chinese innovation in the marketplace, has led European consumers to become a group of unwilling whipping boys in a fight to curtail genuine marketplace freedoms for European consumers who stand to gain nothing from America’s increasingly hyper-nationalistic and tariff happy policies.
While the US market has used the false flag of “security” to stifle US consumer choice when it comes to buying ultra-modern Chinese designed smartphones, European consumers have generally had more choice when it comes to shopping for Chinese brands including the industry leading Huawei.
For the United States, stopping China from competing in a free, globalised market remains a goal and most deviously of all, the US is attempting to do this not only by erecting tariff barriers which are nothing but a regressive tax on American consumers, but also by forcing its allies in Europe and beyond to curtail the economic activity of Chinese firms by invoking the big “security” lie.
First of all, as Huawei’s existing products have been on the market in Europe for years and have never raised any actual security red flags, there is absolutely no reason to think that the next generation of ultra-fast 5G Huawei products should be any different in this respect. Secondly, as China is keen to develop freer and more open trading relations with Europe, Beijing’s companies would be happy to see more of their products in European shops in exchange for more European products on Chinese shelves and popular online retailers.
With far too many European leaders too supine to come out with protectionist tariffs of the aggressive Trump variety, they instead are hiding behind the dirty veil of the great security swindle in order to punish European consumers in the same way that Trump’s tariffs and sanctions have punished American consumers. In this sense, even in spite of signs from Berlin that Europe will not follow the US down a protectionist cul-de-sac, due to the ability of the US to strongly leverage its European partners, the battle for free markets in Europe will clearly be an uphill struggle for Europe’s political class.
The solution is that citizens of the European Union need better consumer liberty advocacy groups that can tell their leaders that enough is enough. People the world over seek a similar experience in any marketplace – they want the best quality goods for the best available price. Such considerations should not be limited to the vulgar nationalism of yesteryear and indeed for the vast majority of consumers, such notions never come into play.
The ironic reality is that in the 21st century, all governments spy on other governments and beyond this, most governments spy on their own citizens. This was true even before Edward Snowden revealed the extent to which US authorities spy on Americans. Furthermore, even if one were to believe the Sinophonic “security” canard, one has far more to fear regarding their own government spying on them than a foreign government doing so. This is true for the simple reason that while China cannot abuse the due process of a US or European citizen in America or Europe – the US and European governments certainly can do so and indeed have done so – just ask Julian Assange.
Thus, even if one was so naive as to believe that curtailing free and open market competition was motivated by actual security concerns rather than by corporate protectionism, even then the argument does not hold water as China could not detain or persecute someone in Europe or the US even if they wanted to do so.
This is why the time is now to call for greater consumer choice and greater protections to consumer liberty in both Europe and also the United States.