What will it be like if the Internet that America invented and designed is replaced in the next technological cycle by one that is controlled, developed, implemented, and managed by the Chinese?
This is a real possibility we must confront right now.
The danger of America giving up and allowing the Chinese to win was driven home by a senior United States government official this week. The Washington Post published a story headlined: “U.S. officials planning for a future in which Huawei has a major share of 5G global networks.”
The newspaper quoted Sue Gordon, the principal deputy director of national intelligence saying: “We are going to have to figure out a way in a 5G world that we’re able to manage the risks in a diverse network that includes technology that we can’t trust.” She added, “We’re just going to have to figure that out.”
I read this while I was having highly productive talks about China, 5G, and Huawei in the Netherlands in a series of conversations arranged by U.S. Ambassador Pete Hoekstra, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
In six meetings, I communicated what I have been told is the absolute position of the president, the vice president, the national security adviser and the secretary of defense. Furthermore, I have been told that the head of the National Security Agency and the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency have both been very clear that Huawei is an enormous national security threat.
A Chinese Internet should be totally unacceptable to everyone who believes in freedom.
I have been focusing on this growing challenge for months, and I devoted two episodes of my “Newt’s World” podcast to 5G, referring to it as the 4th Industrial Revolution.
The Trump administration position has been that 5G is extraordinarily important and so powerful that Huawei and China cannot be trusted to run it. Administration officials have gone all over the planet urging countries to block Huawei technology in their networks because it poses a national security risk.
I was in the Netherlands urging the Dutch to block Huawei and develop a European alternative with Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and advanced secure 5G technology from the United States.
So while I was advocating the rejection of Huawei, The Washington Post reported an administration official suggesting that we have to learn to live with it.
In all fairness, the story was simply reporting the confusion, incompetence and hostility that has characterized the Defense Department bureaucracy’s inability to act effectively against the Chinese threat.
For months, President Trump and his senior national security team have been clear that America must be proactive and aggressive in meeting and quickly overmatching the Chinese challenge.
Meanwhile, for months, senior bureaucrats at the Defense Department have been blocking any effective response.
The large, older telecommunications companies have been encouraging the bureaucrats to take a slow-motion, risk-averse, “don’t worry about Huawei” approach. They have also been deliberately distorting the ideas of reformers and misrepresenting a proposal for a wholesale network as a plan for government-run nationalization of the American 5G network.
However, the reformers – the people who are most committed to defeating Huawei – are totally committed to a free market system funded by private capital and implemented by private companies.
Those seriously analyzing the Huawei threat believe that only a wholesale approach – allowing every company to share spectrum in a competitive environment – is capable of dropping prices enough to undercut the Huawei strategy of buying business through Chinese government-subsidized special deals.
I want to be crystal clear: The stakes are enormous. It represents the greatest American technological failure since the Soviets launched Sputnik.
I know a great many people are thinking, “What’s the big deal? Who cares if China builds out the global Internet through Huawei’s 5G network?”
The answer is: A Chinese Internet should be totally unacceptable to everyone who believes in freedom.
As I said in the Netherlands: China is a Leninist totalitarian state. The Chinese government has put at least 1 million Muslim Uighurs in concentration camps. It regularly locks up Catholic priests and bishops. It has outlawed the Falun Gong and persecutes them.
China recently put the most popular movie star in the nation (and therefore the world) under “residential surveillance,” or house arrest, for months without trial. It is developing and implementing a “social credit” system which will track the private behavior of 1.4 billion people and judge them without trial.
Xi Jinping is chairman of the Central Military Commission, general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, and president of the People’s Republic of China, in that order.
His military commission post is most important because the People’s Liberation Army is first and foremost an extension of the Communist Party – not the government.
Xi’s No. 1 duty is to the nearly 90 million members of the Chinese Communist Party (by contrast, Donald Trump received 63 million votes to become president).
In excerpts from a 2013 speech that were just released this week, Xi made the case for the life and death struggle between Chinese Communism and the West.
“Our party has always adhered to the lofty ideals of communism,” Xi said. “Communists, especially leading cadres, should be staunch believers and faithful practitioners of the lofty ideals of communism and the common ideals of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The belief in Marxism, socialism, and communism is the political soul of the communists and the spiritual prop of the communists to withstand any test. The party constitution clearly stipulates that the highest ideal and ultimate goal of the party is to realize communism.”
In a nod toward Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Xi told the Communist Party Central Committee: “Facts have repeatedly told us that Marx and Engels' analysis of the basic contradictions in capitalist society is not out of date, nor is their historical materialism view that capitalism must die out and socialism must win. This is an irreversible general trend in social and historical development, but the road is tortuous.”
“The final demise of capitalism and the final victory of socialism must be a long historical process,” Xi added. “We should have a deep understanding of the self-regulation ability of capitalist society, fully estimate the objective reality of the long-term dominance of Western developed countries in economic, scientific, technological and military aspects, and earnestly prepare for the long-term cooperation and struggle between the two social systems.”
Xi concluded the Chinese people and the Chinese Communist Party must “continuously build socialism with superiority over capitalism, and continuously lay a more solid foundation for us to win initiative, advantage and future.”
Huawei is a brilliant example of long-term planning and a decisive effort to “win initiative, advantage and future.”
If the United States does not get its act together, we should expect to suffer a strategic defeat in the emergence of a Chinese-controlled Internet that may define the next half century.
Vice President Mike Pence’s speech to the National Space Council last week captured the right sense of urgency and willingness to change organizations and innovate despite the bureaucracy.
The 5G challenge is an even more immediate crisis than securing our leadership in space – and American leadership in space is critical to our ultimate survival as a nation.
We need the Trump-Pence team to drive into the bureaucracy the Churchillian motto of “action this day.”
Bureaucrats who don’t take beating Huawei seriously should be replaced until we find a team capable of winning for America and for freedom.