Chinese telecoms firm, Huawei is globally acclaimed as the world’s leader in 5G network technologies. Recently, it displaced Samsung as the biggest producer of smartphones in the world. Its technological supremacy is at the root of the battle the United States is leading against it and China.
Huawei’s growth and expansion are linked to China’s market-driven reforms initiated forty years ago by former President Deng Xiaoping. Huawei thus turned out to be one huge success story of Deng’s vision.
Besides, Huawei’s customer centric approach, vast investment in research and development and innovative ownership structure accounted more for its supersonic ascendancy in high-tech sector. The selfless decision of the owner of the telecoms giant to control only 2 percent of the equity shares of the company, selling the remaining 98 percent of the equities to the company staff has had far-reaching impacts on staff motivation translating into the company’s speedy and unparalleled growth.
Through the introduction of new reforms and genuine implementation of opening up measures, Belt and Road Initiatives and “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” the current Chinese President, Xi Jinping has been able to underpin and broaden Deng’s Initiatives. As a result Xi’s unassailable innovative governance trajectories have extensively launched China into an economic superpower. China today is the second largest economy in the world.
At the Asian Annual Conference held in 2018 at Boao, China, Xi unveiled a raft of new reforms and opening up measures to demonstrate the preparedness of his country to engender a more integrated global economy. “The Chinese people will continue to work together with the rest of the world to make greater contributions to humanity,” he stated.
Xi has seemingly been accomplishing these policy thrusts in many ways. This is evidenced in the enhanced partnerships China has been forging with other countries, its increased assistance to the developing nations especially Africa and Beijing’s obligation to technological exchange with the developed nations.
As the biggest global telecom company and leader in 5G network technologies, Huawei is one notable Chinese firm that has stood out in technological innovation, expansion and exchange with the rest of the world in line with Xi’s foreign policy direction. Even though it is privately-owned, Huawei’s move to develop 5G technologies in the developed world has seemingly been met with stiff resistance with US playing a key part. This became more manifest with Britain’s recent dramatic shift from its earlier decision that Huawei develop its 5G network. British government’s afterthought resulting in its backdown has been linked to its age-long ally, United States which reportedly played a discouraging role.
The ultimate weapon deployed by the United States to get UK government to withdraw from the Huawei deal was the unleashing of fresh sanctions that banned the Chinese telecom company from international semiconductor activities. This compelled the relevant British regulatory body, the National Cyber Security Centre to step in to foreclose the use of Huawei equipment in the country’s 5G network
United States animosity towards China is not new. Since China’s unprecedented and audacious rise to the second largest economy in the world its rivalry with the US has increased. The emergence of Donald Trump as President of the US in 2016 is believed to have fuelled the intensification of the rivalry.
Several reasons have been attributed to it. One, is Trump’s ‘America first’ mantra resulting in his protectionism tendencies. Two, being Washington’s fear of being supplanted by Beijing as world’s economic leader and a super power.
There is perhaps a bigger fear that if China is not regulated, its socialism model may oust the West’s liberal capitalism. Washington’s anxieties are somewhat well-based. While the economies of the developing and developed nations that are anchored on capitalist ideology and framework appear to be crumbling, most of the Asian countries economies that are based on communism model are seemingly thriving.
China offers a veritable case study. This South East Asian country has not only relied on communist system to lift over a billion Chinese out of extreme poverty in recent times but has also applied the ideology amid economic reforms and some market liberalisation options to attain technological and economic supremacy.
However, the current US battle against China with Huawei at the centre is understandable. Many analysts are of the view that the loathsomeness is not targeted at the telecom giant as a company but against the emerging Chinese technological leadership which Washington believes is not in the interest of US that has for decades been leading the technological sector. The undercurrent is US fear of losing its place as the world’s technological leader. The sanction imposed on Huawei is said to be a strategy to contain China’s rising technological profile.
With Washington’s frenetic push in recent times to cut down Beijing trading activities with the US which has led to lingered trade war between the two countries; the cut-off of Chinese telecom company, Huawei from taking part in the development of 5G network in the developed nations of the West, coupled with Trump’s inclination to accomplish his ‘America first’ mantra many believe that US and other developed nations are fanning the embers of protectionist pivot, anti-globalization and anti-China sentiments.
Many analysts believe that if US succeeds in decapitating globalisation and constraining China, the economies of the world will be endangered. This is because for many years China has been the driving force of the global economy. This is reinforced by World Bank data indicating that between 2012 and 2016 China contributed 34 percent of world economic growth, surpassing that of the US, the European Union and Japan combined.
Xi expressed real disdain over the rising wave of protectionist and anti-globalization at a World Economic Forum held in 2017. “Pursuing protectionist is just like locking one in a dark room,” he lambasted the West.
Trump’s inclination to protectionist options conflicts radically with Xi’s determination to pursue opening up measures, global free trade and economic integration and Belt and Road Initiatives aimed at building a community with a shared future. Africa is one of the regions Xi’s opening up policy has had significant impact.
At the opening ceremony of the 2018 Beijing Summit on China-Africa Cooperation, Xi promised to build a “China-Africa community with a shared future that pursues a win-win cooperation”. China’s large scale investments in Africa and massive infrastructural development support in the region are instructive that Xi is keeping faith with his promises which have helped in stimulating the globalized economy. The rest of the world should therefore rally together to resist Washington’s protectionist and anti-globalization tendencies because of their potential threat to humanity.
Mr Jamu writes from Abuja