The term 5G stands for a fifth generation — to succeed the current fourth generation of mobile connectivity that has made video sharing and movie streaming commonplace.
The new technology will require an overhaul of telecommunication infrastructure.
The 5G will do more than make mobile phones faster — it will link billions of devices, revolutionising transportation, manufacturing and even medicine. It will also create a multitude of potential openings for bad actors to exploit.
The vulnerability helps explain the rising tension between the US and Huawei Technologies Co, China’s largest technology company.
Huawei is pushing for a global leadership role in 5G, but American officials suspect that could help Beijing spy on Western governments and companies.
“Huawei’s significant presence in 5G creates a new vector for possible cyber-espionage and malware,” Michael Wessel, a commissioner on the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission that advises Congress, said in an interview.
By connecting whole new classes of products, 5G “creates new vulnerabilities”.
The technology holds great promise. Forests of gadgets will communicate instantly via millions of antennas. Cars will talk to each other to avert lethal crashes, factory foremen will monitor parts supplies and doctors can perform remote surgery as video, sound and data flow without delay.
Connections will be 10 to 100 times faster than current standards — quick enough to download an entire movie in seconds.
Yet, US national security officials see billions of opportunities for spies, hackers and cyber-thieves to steal trade secrets, sabotage machinery and even order cars to crash.
Citing security threats, the US has been pushing allies to block Huawei from telecommunication networks. The US Congress has banned government agencies from buying the company’s gear.
Why is the United States intent on killing Huawei? Look at the data below:
Huawei employs more than 10,000 Phd degree holders as well as many talented Russian mathematicians.
Do you know how many Huawei employees earn more than 1 million yuan (RM603,280) a year? More than 10,000 people.
Do you know how many Huawei employees earn more than five million yuan a year? More than 1,000 people!
In China alone, Huawei’s research and development expenditure is 89.6 billion yuan.
Among the Big Three, Alibaba employs 30,000 people, Baidu 50,000, Tencent about 30,000, leading to a total of 110,000; but Huawei’s global employees total 170,000.
Alibaba’s profit is 23.4 billion yuan, Tencent’s 24.2 billion yuan, Baidu’s 10.5 billion yuan, and their profits total 58 billion yuan, but 70% is taken away by foreigners. Since 2000, Huawei has earned 1.39 trillion yuan from abroad.
In taxes, Tencent pays more than seven billion yuan a year, Alibaba 10.9 billion yuan, and Baidu 2.2 billion. Huawei pays 33.7 billion yuan, which is more than the total of the earlier three firms.
Huawei is a high-tech company, and technology represents the true strength of a country.
In China, many companies can’t last long because there are always other companies ready to replace them, but Huawei is irreplaceable.
Huawei is a 100% Chinese company that has not been listed and does not intend to go public because of the susceptibility to be controlled by capital (which the United States can simply print money to do).
Huawei is the first private technology company in China ever to join the league of the world’s top 100. The Chinese should be proud of Huawei.
Koon Yew Yin is an FMT reader
The views expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.