We are currently facing a turbulent international panorama. China’s transformation into a world superpower has sparked the misgivings of the US, leading to a trade war. As is logical to think that 5G technology would also mean a conflict between the two great superpowers.
5G technology, with its ability to improve the speed and amount of data transmitted between different devices, brings us closer to a future in which smart cities, autonomous cars, business information, industrial control systems and even the physiological data of citizens, all of them communicated with each other and traveling through the same network, are not something of science fiction.
All these possibilities make 5G the perfect setting for a war between these two superpowers. But why precisely 5G and not just any other technology? The most immediate reason can be found in the fact that despite being an ultra-fast network, 5G works through microwave transmission. So, it depends on the installation of a large number of antennas. All this represents an immense investment, both in infrastructures and in R&D that is only affordable only for the big players.
It is precisely in this context that one of our main characters appears, the Chinese company Huawei. Huawei has achieved a considerable competitive advantage both in technology and infrastructure, which could mean that we are facing a scenario in which hundreds of Chinese antennas are deployed in many cities. Antennas through which huge amounts of potentially “sensitive” information would pass. As might be expected, this situation is not the most palatable scenario for the US, which is outmatched by a potentially hostile foreign power.
Faced with this possible threat, the US government has launched a counterattack by vetoing any type of business between a North American company and Huawei. All this while arresting the CFO of Huawei (Meng wanzhou) in Canada and accusing the company of leaving “back doors” in its technology with which to spy on the data that circulates through it.
Thus begins a war of tariffs and trade barriers that hides nothing other than the fight to become the superpower that dominates 5G technology, with the United States asking its allies to get rid of all Chinese technology with rather irregular results.
All this is exacerbated by the extreme situation that the COID-19 pandemic is going to leave us. The aid provided by China to the infected countries together with the inaction and uneven recovery of the US can lead us to a world in which a new cold war emerges with two opposing blocs, this time between the US and China.
All this leaves us with a question that only the future will answer, in this technological cold war, on which superpower will Europe position itself?