Huawei To Hell

It's been a momentous few days in the US-China tech cold war. The confrontation between the world's sole superpower and its biggest geopolitical rival is still more economic and technological than ideological or military, but it's shifting fast. Here's a quick rundown.



What happened: On Monday, the US Department of Justice unveiled sweeping criminal charges against Huawei, one of China's most important technology companies, accusing it of fraud connected to violations of US sanctions against Iran and intellectual property theft. Officials also confirmed the US would pursue the extradition of Huawei CFO Meng Wangzhou, whose arrest in December in Canada at the request of the US has infuriated Beijing.

Why it's important: Huawei is a global leader in 5G, the next generation of mobile network technology that will transport more data at faster speeds than ever before, making game-changing innovations like smart cities and driverless cars possible on a commercial scale for the first time. China views 5G and Huawei as key to its future economic and technological development, its ambitions to extend its global influence, and ultimately the power of the Communist Party.

The US, by contrast, sees Huawei and China's broader technology ambitions as a national security threat. It's worried that a Chinese presence in 5G networks could give Beijing new ways to conduct espionage, or even allow China to shut down vital data networks in a crisis. Monday's criminal charges will further increase political pressure, opening a new and potentially explosive legal front in the US campaign against China's technology and industrial policies.

What happens now? This is an irresistible force meets immovable object situation, and China is going to respond. The question is, how and when?

Negotiations between Washington and Beijing to resolve the countries' $360 billion trade war will probably continue, for now. The US stopped short of saying what penalties it might pursue against the Chinese telecoms giant, which could include sanctions or even a potential ban on Huawei acquiring US technology – an action that would further ratchet up tensions.

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He arrived in Washington on Tuesday for trade talks, including a personal meeting with President Trump. Both sides have incentives to try keep the Huawei and trade issues separate as they try to strike a deal, or at least extend negotiations, beyond a March 1 US deadline.

Still, the US charges against Huawei and Meng are a serious escalation in an already tense situation that could make it harder for the two sides to bridge their differences. Meng is already a cause celebre in China, and even an implied threat of harsh US action against Huawei could stiffen Chinese President Xi Jinping's resolve to avoid big concessions to US trade and security hawks.

Bottom line: Far from over, the conflict between the US and China is morphing into an even deeper and more profound confrontation.

Howard University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick joins That Made All the Difference podcast to discuss how his career as a surgeon influenced his work as an educator, administrator and champion of underserved communities, and why he believes we may be on the cusp of the next "golden generation."

Listen to the latest podcast now.

It's been a bad week at the office for President Trump. Not only have coronavirus cases in the US been soaring, but The New York Times' bombshell report alleging that Russia paid bounties to the Taliban to kill US troops in Afghanistan has continued to make headlines. While details about the extent of the Russian bounty program — and how long it's been going on for — remain murky, President Trump now finds himself in a massive bind on this issue.

Here are three key questions to consider.

More Show less

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Yes, still in the middle of coronavirus, but thought I'd give you a couple of my thoughts on Russia. Part of the world that I cut my teeth on as a political scientist, way back in the eighties and nineties. And now Putin is a president for life, or at least he gets to be president until 2036, gets another couple of terms. The constitutional amendments that he reluctantly allowed to be voted on across Russia, passed easily, some 76% approval. And so now both in China and in Russia, term limits get left behind all for the good of the people, of course. So that they can have the leaders that they truly deserve. Yes, I'm being a little sarcastic here. It's sad to see. It's sad to see that the Americans won the Cold War in part, not just because we had a stronger economy and a stronger military, but actually because our ideas were better.

Because when those living in the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Block looked at the West, and looked at the United States, they saw that our liberties, they saw that our economy, was something that they aspired to and was actually a much better way of giving opportunities to the average citizen, than their own system afforded. And that helped them to rise up against it.

More Show less

Jon Lieber, managing director for the United States at Eurasia Group, provides his perspective on US politics:

How likely is bipartisan action against Russia in light of Taliban bounty reports?

I think it's probably unlikely. One of the challenges here is that there's some conflict of the intelligence and anything that touches on the issue of President Trump and Russia is extremely toxic for him. Republicans have so far been tolerant of that and willing to stop any new sanctions coming. I think unless the political situation or the allegations get much worse or more obvious, that stalemate probably remains.

More Show less

When hundreds of thousands of protesters in Ethiopia brought sweeping change to their government in 2018, many of them were blaring the music of one man: a popular young activist named Hachalu Hundessa, who sang songs calling for the liberation and empowerment of the Oromo, the country's largest ethnic group.

Earlier this week, the 34-year old Hundessa was gunned down in the country's capital, Addis Ababa.

More Show less