China’s Deepening Geopolitical Hole
The UK's decision to ban Huawei from its 5G networks is only the latest diplomatic setback for China. So, as China’s leaders ponder how to respond, they should heed the first rule of holes: when you are in one, stop digging.
CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – The United Kingdom’s decision to ban Huawei from its 5G networks has dealt a painful blow to China. Until recently, China was still counting on the UK to stick to its earlier decision to allow the Chinese telecom giant to supply non-core equipment for the country’s 5G networks.
But two recent developments made such a decision untenable. The first was the United States’ escalation of its war on Huawei. The US instituted a new sanction in May banning suppliers that use American technology from providing semiconductors to Huawei. Because US technology is used to manufacture the advanced semiconductors that Huawei’s products, including 5G base stations, require, the company’s supply will be cut off, making production of its 5G equipment in the future nearly impossible.
The prospect that a key supplier of the UK’s 5G networks would no longer be able to build and maintain its system is a far more serious threat than potential Chinese snooping is. No responsible government can afford to take such a risk. So, Huawei’s days were numbered as soon as the US government pulled the trigger in May. The only question was when Prime Minister Boris Johnson would tell President Xi Jinping the bad news.