The Huawei issue will most likely dominate all topics at the WTC this year. We will talk a lot about this new generation of telecommunications called the 5G. Everyone thinks that after 3G and 4G, it’s just another step in the speed of connections.
But it is a huge technological leap that will at least multiply the uses and rate of data transmission by smartphones as well as between connected exchanges, relays, objects or devices. In short, it is a revolution. An expert on the subject does not hesitate to say, exaggerating a little, that this qualitative leap is comparable to the invention of electricity and the Internet.
And it is precisely because the stakes are high that 5G is already the subject of conflict. Between the United States, which has partial control over this technology – Donald Trump even speaks of an unjustified “delay” and demands that the greats of the US Tech become pioneers again – and China, whose flagship Huawei has become the world leader in 5G. It is easy to see why the largest industrial and diplomatic delegations that will arrive in Barcelona on Monday, not to mention the pharmacies linked to them, will be American and Chinese.
A strategic threat?
No one waited for the series of the extradition proceedings of Meng Wanzhou, heiress to the Huawei empire, to be wary of Huawei’s control of 5G over the entire spectrum.
Ms. Meng is facing a charge on US soil for intellectual property infringement and circumvention of sanctions. The United States has asked Canada, where she has been under house arrest since December, to bring her to American justice. But, in the eyes of the West, Huawei is not only a threat of industrial and commercial supremacy. All but the British refer to a strategic threat.
Because they suspect Huawei of being able, thanks to 5G, to siphon billions of data at will thanks to spyware implanted in the systems, or even sabotage or hack into so-called vital infrastructures in the field of public transport, energy or even in the defense industry.
Huawei’s supporters, particularly in the industrial sector, cannot imagine for a second that a company of this size would take such risks for its global reputation.
It is true that the suspicions expressed by some people are close to paranoia and defy common sense, especially when they come from the United States. One of their emissaries has just traveled around the world begging the allies, not to ban Huawei, but to choose other suppliers for 5G.
This diplomat explained to his interlocutors that it was a question of safeguarding democracies in the face of the Orwellian danger of the Chinese dictatorship, for example by referring to his techniques of artificial intelligence in the service of political repression.
Nevertheless, the American intelligence services have examples of what Huawei and his servers may have been spying on, particularly in Africa (at the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa), or in Australia (which is why Huawei was banned there at the risk of Chinese reprisals on Chinese imports, as suggested by the local press) and perhaps in the United Kingdom. And it seems that in Barcelona, the maximum pressure will, therefore, be put, this time, on the industrialists tempted to collaborate with Huawei at the risk of becoming accomplices.