By Joseph Chalfant
The U.S. and its allies are ramping up efforts to curtail Chinese 5G expansion across the world.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Department of Commerce is leading an initiative to provide countries with loans, training, and reference materials to assist foreign policymakers in developing their own 5G networks rather than relying on Chinese state-owned products.
Previously, the U.S. limited intelligence-sharing with allies who adopted 5G technologies from companies like Huawei or ZTE. While many allies moved in line with U.S. guidelines, some countries like Germany refrained from banning Chinese tech.
Because of the mixed results, the U.S. moved to provide incentives for countries to forego Chinese 5G infrastructure. Last fall, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. began to offer loans to developing countries to build alternatives to Chinese telecom technology.
Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Ethiopia agreed to a multi-billion dollar telecom project and can utilize up to $500 million in loans from U.S. foreign aid to build up its network. The agreement may mark a shift in infrastructure developments in the region. For years, China has spent billions on projects in Africa to buy influence on the world stage and create allies.
The Biden administration hopes that continuing to offer more incentives for countries to reject the Chinese 5G network will turn the tide in favor of the West.
Western governments are worried that consumers may fall victim to Chinese spying operations and have worked vigorously to limit the amount of state-back Chinese tech from becoming the baseline for 5G infrastructure.
In 2019, President Donald Trump announced sanctions against Huawei in an attempt to mitigate the security threat. The company reported that its revenue fell from 19% to just 3.9% in one year. In 2020, the U.S. Federal Government instituted a ban on contracts with companies that use products from major Chinese tech firms.