US’ Clean Network initiative aims to end tech and telecoms links with China

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched the initiative, which is widely seen as an effort to counterbalance China’s success in these sectors rather than about national security.

He told a press conference, “We call on all freedom loving countries and companies to join the clean network”. It looks like if it succeeds, the initiative will split the global economy.

There are five elements to the initiative:

* Clean Carrier – put political pressure on the US’ telecoms regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to retract the licences it issued to China Telecom Americas, China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks and ComNet, which allows them to work corporate customers to move data around the globe.
* Clean Store is the US government’s drive to eradicate Chinese-owned apps from American app stores.
* Clean Apps – Pompeo wants all US developers to remove their apps from Chinese smartphones and ecosystems – such Huawei’s Harmony OS which it is building in response to being denied access to Android – which includes Chinese smartphone brands such as OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO and ZTE.
* Clean Cloud is the goal of the State Department’s efforts to block commercial activities of Chinese cloud companies in the US, including Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent.
* Clean Cable is an attempt to stop the use of Huawei Marine for subsea cables and to persuade other countries and enterprises to avoid Chinese suppliers or those who have Chinese parent companies.

This is a once unthinkable and all-out attack on globalisation as well as the Chinese state and companies. Human beings appear to be congenitally incapable of learning from history, but if we could, we would know that this policy is highly unlikely to produce any winners.

It is not clear how damaging and banning Chinese companies is supposed to conjure American tech leadership.

Bullying and envy

According to The New York Times, in an interview with the state news agency Xinhua on Wednesday, the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the US "has no right" to set up the "Clean Network" and said the proposed steps are "a textbook case of bullying".

He added, "Anyone can see through clearly that the intention of the US is to protect its monopoly position in technology and to rob other countries of their proper right to development".