“Nervousness about Chinese technology has long existed in the United States, fueled by the fear that the Chinese could insert a ‘back door’ into telecom and computing networks that would allow Chinese security services to intercept military, government and corporate communications,” according to the Times story by David E. Sanger, Julian E. Barnes, Raymond Zhong, and Marc Santora. “But the concern has taken on more urgency as countries around the world begin deciding which equipment providers will build their 5G networks.”
What is 5G? It’s the fifth generation of mobile technology that AT&T, Verizon, and other phone companies around the globe are beginning to roll out. But more than just providing faster downloads of YouTube videos, 5G networks are, as the Times explains, the first “built to serve the sensors, robots, autonomous vehicles and other devices that will continuously feed each other vast amounts of data, allowing factories, construction sites and even whole cities to be run with less moment-to-moment human intervention.”
In other words, if there is ever a real Matrix, it will run on 5G.
Huawei (pronounced “hwa-way”) is China’s largest supplier of telecom gear. The United States fears that the company and other Chinese suppliers are willing or unwilling participants in Beijing’s corporate and military espionage efforts.
Installing their equipment, the argument goes, would give China’s leaders the ability to monitor communications, hack into computer systems, and steal military and trade secrets.