Chinese state-media has responded angrily to U.S. President Donald Trump’s reported plan to build a secure nationwide 5G network to counter Chinese spying, accusing the White House of using Cold War rhetoric for trade protectionism and saying that the U.S. was more likely to engage in industrial espionage than China.
The U.S. President will reportedly announce a proposal to build a super-fast 5G wireless network to counter China’s spying on phone calls, according to a memo produced by a senior National Security Council official and obtained by U.S. media.
In an extensive and sometimes angry editorial, the state-owned China Daily called the 5G Network plan a "digital iron curtain" that "harks back to the rhetoric-and strategies-of the Cold War," and was a means to "pave the way for more protectionist measures against Chinese technology hoping to gain a foothold in the US market."
In response to assertions that the U.S. needs to build the secure network to protect national security, China Daily added: "Such claims and the smearing of Chinese companies are a pea-and-shell game intended to fool Americans into believing the US can recreate its glory days of undisputed technological leadership."
The editorial went on to imply that the U.S. government, not China, is the real threat in terms of listening in on people’s phone conversations, likely in reference to the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) phone tapping program exposed by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
"Certainly the claim it will protect Americans from having their conversations overheard seems unlikely, since the American government is the only one known to have a penchant for listening in, usually in a bid to gain economic advantages, rather than out of security concerns."
Wang Zhiwei, a professor in international relations from Renmin University of China, echoed that sentiment in an interview with state-owned media Global Times, saying that the so-called need "to counter China’s cyber threat" is just an excuse of the U.S. to erect trade barriers.
"The U.S. is actually doing protectionism, arousing the public’s discontented mood to China. Because, for many other countries like Japan or Europe, they are facing the dilemma of whether to cooperate with China or the U.S.," said Wang. "In the 5G network sector, China has formed partnership with a number of European countries, which makes the U.S. think that it is the only way to unify the western again and guarantee its leading position."
Meanwhile, Hua Chunying, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman took a more conciliatory tone during a media brief, saying: "Countries should respect and trust each other, as well as cooperate to fight against cyber space threat and maintain a peace and secure online environment."