Dhe US government has unveiled a broad-based initiative aimed at restricting Chinese computing technology at all levels, not just in the United States. It’s about popular apps, cloud services, telecommunication networks, submarine cables and smartphones.
“The Clean Network Program is the Trump administration’s comprehensive approach to protecting the privacy of our citizens and the most sensitive information of our companies from aggressive interference by malicious actors such as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” said the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a message.
He also made it clear that Washington intends to forge an international alliance on this matter against the second largest economy in the world. “The United States calls on our allies and partners in government and industry around the world to join the growing tide to protect our data from the CCP surveillance state and other malicious entities,” said Pompeo. And he went on to conclude: “Building a clean fortress around our citizens’ data will ensure the security of all our nations.”
Printing on Huawei, Tiktok and Wechat
The announcement, which is also published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explicitly states the name of the Chinese network equipment supplier and smartphone manufacturer Huawei mentioned. For months, the government in Washington has been putting pressure on allied countries in Europe to forego the Group’s offers to build the new 5G mobile communications standard.
In Europe, the British government has meanwhile followed suit, the French too, and in Germany a final decision is still pending. Washington argues that Huawei’s technology offers the Chinese leadership a potential opportunity for espionage or sabotage. The company denies all allegations.
In the “Clean Network Program” that has now been presented, Huawei is also primarily targeted as a cell phone manufacturer. The section on “Clean Apps” states: “Huawei, an arm of the surveillance state of the People’s Republic of China, trades in the innovation and reputation of leading American and foreign companies. These companies should remove their apps from Huawei’s app store to ensure they are not partnering with a human rights abuser. “
Against the communist party
Should the companies follow this call, experts believe that Huawei could suffer dramatic losses in the mobile phone sector as well. For example, millions of people around the world use the services of the world’s largest social network – whether they will opt for a Huawei mobile phone in the future if they can no longer use Facebook or Instagram seems at least questionable.
Finally, Pompeo made it clear that the American government wanted to take general action against Chinese apps offered within the United States. At the weekend he had already promised this, after the American president had earlier Donald Trump had threatened to ban the popular Tiktok app, which is also popular among American youth – meanwhile the software group Microsoft is negotiating a takeover with the Tiktok parent company Bytedance.
“Chinese applications threaten our privacy, spread viruses, and spread propaganda and disinformation. Americans’ most sensitive personal and business information needs to be protected from exploitation and theft for the benefit of the CCP on their cell phones, ”said Pompeus.
During a press conference in Washington on Wednesday evening, he became even more specific. “Since the parent companies are based in China, apps like Tiktok and Wechat and others pose a significant threat to the personal information of American citizens, not to mention the CCP’s content censorship tools.”
The Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi again sharply denied Pompeo’s allegations. “Everyone can see clearly that the intention of the United States is to protect its monopoly on technology and to deprive other countries of their real right to development.”
Even before Pompeo presented the new initiative, tensions between the world’s two largest economies had escalated. Time and again, observers are now talking of a “new cold war” that is technologically discharging.
“In practical terms, the United States is at war with China,” wrote former NSA director Keith Alexander in Barron’s financial magazine, adding, “This may come as a surprise, as no shots were fired or explanations made.”