Expert Speak Digital Frontiers
Published on Oct 22, 2020
Predictable, shabby, amusing: China’s reactions to countries banning Huawei

Beijing’s recent reaction to Stockholm banning Chinese companies in its 5G rollout is a foreign policy bore — predictable, shabby and amusing. Bereft of any principles or rules of law, Xi Jinping and his Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is standing confused. As one nation after another places security barriers before Chinese companies in response to their intrusive nature and PLA (People’s Liberation Army) links magnified by an institutional design called the National Intelligence Law that has turned every Chinese entity, from firms to citizens, into spies, Beijing’s response is now an expected playbook of reciprocity. That is, if you ban Huawei, we will ban your companies. Unfortunately for Xi, the world is now ready for this hollow threat. To speak of open trade and investment climate when China doesn’t allow global tech such and media companies into its borders, for instance, is meaningless. Under Xi, China has become and is seen to be a rogue nation, hyphenated by the likes of Pakistan and North Korea, both having devalued their sovereign statures to being China’s client states. At a time when it should be engaging proactively and carrying peace flags, if not peace intent, the CCP is stuck in the huff and puff of a past that has flown away.

To speak of open trade and investment climate when China doesn’t allow global tech such and media companies into its borders, for instance, is meaningless.

After Australia, Japan, the US, the UK, Czech Republic and Sweden, more countries will now ban this deadly duo of Huawei and ZTE from their 5G auctions and rollouts. As they do so, the China playbook will fumble around the following: threaten and appeal. A recent sample of China’s flailing reactions:

    • To Sweden: “China expresses strong dissatisfaction; Sweden should uphold an objective and fair attitude; avoid bringing a negative impact to China-Sweden economic and trade cooperation and the operations of Swedish enterprises in China.”
    • To Czech Republic: CETIN has kept Huawei out of its 5G rollout, and Chinese reaction is still to come. But if the recent past, when Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil’s trip made him “an enemy of 1.4 billion Chinese people” for visiting Taiwan, is any indication, a similar warning is expected.
    • To the UK: “Disappointing and wrong; questionable whether the UK can provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for companies from other countries.
    • To Australia: “Politically motivated; we urge the Australian government to abandon ideological prejudices and provide a fair competitive environment for Chinese companies’ operations in Australia.”
    • And so on — yawn!

China has proactively created national security issues using tech intrusion as its preferred tool. While 5G intrusion is a necessity for the pomposity of the Emperor of China, the time for such doublespeak creating a haze over its aggressive actions are now over. As the next few months will show, one nation after another will continue to place no-entry barriers before China Tech.

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Gautam Chikermane

Gautam Chikermane

Gautam Chikermane is a Vice President at ORF. His areas of research are economics, politics and foreign policy. A Jefferson Fellow (Fall 2001) at the East-West ...

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