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China, Huawei and the Challenge of 5G

  • 214 Massachusetts Avenue Northeast Washington, DC, 20002 United States (map)

The digital future will be shaped by the next, fifth generation of wireless technology, commonly known as a “5G.” With key aspects of this new digital infrastructure already rolling out, Huawei, a controversial government-connected Chinese firm has taken the global lead in critical areas of 5G technology. This has sparked an intense debate among members of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the U.S.) and beyond about the national security implications of future digital technology infrastructure and the need to develop new tools and authorities to defend against new national security threats in a rapidly-evolving environment. This debate has already produced new investment screening mechanisms in several Western capitals and new efforts to reject or better scrutinize proposed Chinese investments. Where do we go from here? Will all members of the Five Eyes ban Huawei equipment? If one member does allow Huawei to develop their 5G infrastructure, how will that affect intelligence sharing? Will the Five Eyes seek to develop alternatives, including promoting Huawei’s competitors, and how will that affect the market? What further steps must the democracies take in order to secure their digital futures?