Huawei and Chinese technology comes under sustained US attack

© Flickr/cc-licence/Bob Mical

© Flickr/cc-licence/Bob Mical

  • The administration appears to be broadening its assault on Chinese tech. 
  • Three new radio-related companies have joined Huawei and ZTE in the firing zone
  • How soon before cloud companies start getting similar treatment?

The US administration appears to be doubling down on Chinese telcos and Chinese technology, turning what began as a specific objection to US CSPs and others purchasing kit from Huawei - which it accused of being a security risk - and amping it up into a broad assault on Chinese communications and associated technology companies. 

Reports say the administration is about to flick the switch on regulations to prevent the US government from buying goods or services from any company that, in turn, uses any products from one of five Chinese companies. So, to do govt. business, US companies will have to certify that they’re eschewing Huawei (natch), ZTE, Hytera Communications and products made by Dahua or Hikvision (makers of surveillance equipment and cameras). Special waivers are available. 

This move follows a range of measures over the past couple of months which have included delicensing Chinese network operators from the US and preventing money awarded to network operators from the FCC’s $8.3 billion a year Universal Service Fund being used by recipients to purchase, obtain, maintain, improve, modify, or otherwise support any equipment or services produced or provided by these suppliers, more or less hanging out to dry those service providers who have bought Chinese equipment in the past. 

There has also been a noticeable uptick in other interested parties jumping in to join the chorus of anti-Huawei, anti-China sentiment, including Samsung’s Woojune Kim, one of its executive vice presidents, who was answering questions in the UK’s parliament on infrastructure competition. He said the South Korean telecoms vendor had “frequently seen [Huawei] bids that do not seem to make sense in the pricing.”  Samsung clearly sees itself benefiting from any Huawei exclusion.

There are also signs that those pesky China/US “trade tensions” as the growing fall-out is often delicately framed, may be about to move to its next logical battleground - cloud services and related technology and issues.  

Obviously a world getting more enthusiastic about the prospects for multi- and hybrid clouds that can link arms across the globe may be prone to political disruption as masses of data gets itself on the move across global cloud connections.  If old-fashioned telecoms links were considered a security worry (as they were in the case of the US shutting down the Chinese carriers) how much more insidious might a huge mesh of high speed connections linking global data centres?

For instance, controversy currently surrounds a move by Google which recently cancelled a project in May called ‘Isolated Region’, which was thought to be a way for Google to service clients on separate clouds within territories where there were difficulties around security and so on.  

Now Google is saying that it closed that project down, not because it was aimed at China (it maintains it has no intention of doing cloud business in China) but because it had found better ways of addressing national requirements around the governance of data, operational practices, and survivability of software.  

Data centre specialist Equinix, on the other hand, is looking to extend access to China’s Alibaba Cloud through its data centre platforms in multiple metro hubs, including Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Jakarta, and London.  Equinix says it can arrange things so that its customers can create and manage private connections to Alibaba Cloud on-demand in any of  its 45 ECX Fabric metros. 

It’s hard to believe that these sorts of cloud linking arrangements - and there are likely more of this nature - won’t be subject to scrutiny if the US administration looks to further tighten the China screw in months ahead.

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