USA – China
Cybersecurity is an important concern of the US government. From the beginning of his presidency on 20 January 2021, President Joe Biden has been overhauling the US cybersecurity strategy and leadership; his executive order on improving the nation’s cybersecurity underlines the importance the administration is giving this topic and it sets the agenda for the upcoming steps.
The role 5G plays in this context is its importance for the emerging next phase of the digital transformation. As an infrastructure, the security of 5G technology is crucial.
So far Joe Biden continues the existing US implementation strategies entitled Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020 and the National Strategy to Secure 5G Implementation Plan. These actions must be seen in the context of recent cyber attacks - for example the ones during the 2020 US elections, to which the US even responded with sanctions against Russia.
Regarding China, the tensions between Washington and Beijing did not ease with the new administration – the continuity is obvious. The trade war that started during the Trump administration is still ongoing, Biden has not eased sanctions so far, even new sanctions have been imposed. The conflicts over Hong Kong, Taiwan and questions about Uyghur minorities in China are ongoing.
The tone has become also increasingly rough in terms of economic competition, especially regarding technology. The heavy investments into infrastructure by the US government, coming with the Corona relief act (CARE) imply investments into digital networks, such as 5G. This would give a competitive advantage for companies domiciled in the USA. The slogan goes: "Buy American!"
On top of this, President Biden recently expanded an already existing ban on U.S. investment in Chinese companies. He blacklisted 59 firms with ties to China’s military or in the surveillance industry, including Huawei Technologies Co. and the country’s three biggest telecommunications companies.
The US government is gathering allies to join Washington in taking a harder stance towards Beijing. The so called Clean Network initiative, where several NATO allies already take part in (see p. 13 in this report) builds on and expands the Clean Path, which is designed to protect 5G networks from untrusted vendors. In addition, the Biden administration is trying to revive and improve international relations within the global community, especially western oriented states.
China has been responding likewise. Sanctions against the US have stayed in place and mutual mistrust goes on. Chinese officials have underlined China's sovereignty in matters of internal affairs – which China considers to range from questions about investments, the economy, the right to vote in democratic elections or the dealing with ethnic minorities. On the other hand China intensifies its own rollout of 5G, fostering the local economy.
Last Update June 2021