The US government has continuously attempted to suppress and strangle China’s Huawei through judicial, financial and diplomatic means. Such actions have caused concern among people of many countries, especially Chinese people, who are puzzled by one question: What possible conflict could have caused the world’s only superpower to define a private high-tech enterprise a threat?
It is the US’ Cold War mentality which allows it to only understand its own national interests through the prism of extreme selfishness. It uses a traditional misconception to analyze Huawei, which has led to this dramatic farce.
Judging China-US relations with a Cold War mentality has made the US define Huawei as a strategic threat. Yet Huawei, which produces and sells the world’s finest and most cost-effective telecommunications equipment, has set up cooperative partnerships with 45 of the top 50 operators in the world, serving over 40 percent of the world’s population.
Huawei is ranked first on the list of European Telecommunications Standardization Association in terms of number of core patents, overtaking the giants Nokia and Ericsson in both number and technological applications.
It has become the first company worldwide that can completely provide systematic business solutions for 5G technology. All of these achievements have been made within 30 some years by Huawei, during the overall process of China’s reform and opening-up.
This triumph has turned out to be seen by the US as a threat that embodies China’s strategic threat and challenge to the US. The US view of the world is either black or white. American interests originate from its ambition to maintain its hegemony in the world. Its basic logic is to use its advanced technologies to form competitive industries, and to apply its industrial advantage to obtain economic advantages. It will, in turn, translate its economic advantages into financial advantages so as to constitute and maintain its financial hegemony around the globe.
However, all of this is facing challenges from China. The US is very clear about its strategic objective toward China: It demands China become a steady source of excessive profits, but when China is reluctant to accept the role, it was seen as a threat to the US which is determined to punish China by whatever means. This is why Huawei is a target.
The extreme egocentrism, based on its national interests, makes the US unwilling to face an open and fair competitive environment. As a nation that flaunts individualism, it is ironic that these issues are designed for the benefit of American elites. Such a tendency, if described in a polite way, is the so-called multiple standard, or, in academic terms, American exceptionalism.
It is for sure that some people might not agree with it as the US is a “rules-based country.” It is true that the US advocates the rules-based international order but regards companies such as Huawei and Airbus, as well as countries like China and Germany as challengers to its order.
In fact, the US has only used the rules as a tool to defend its own national interests so that whatever rule aligns with its interest, it will be observed; and if it doesn’t, the US doesn’t mind destroying it or establishing a new one. To the US, whenever some unexpected results occur, such as Huawei’s continuous success in the telecommunication industry, it will assume such actors have definitely violated the rule because such a possibility had never been imagined when the US made the rule at the beginning.
Therefore, the choice of strategies dominated by the interests-oriented egocentrism is meant to crack down on Huawei in an intemperate and unrestrictive manner.
Cognitive consistency and misunderstanding based on wishful thinking further exacerbated the US strategic anxiety toward China and its crackdown on Huawei. Robert Jervis, a well-known scholar of international relations, once systematically elaborated three classic misconceptions including cognitive consistency, selective learning and wishful thinking.
Based on these misperceptions, decision-makers form wrong recognition and take wrong actions. When it comes to Huawei, it combined its stereotypes of communist countries with US-style ties between government and enterprises, resulting in the wrong conclusion that Huawei must have been cooperating with the Chinese government and causing threats to US industry and security.
Huawei’s development can be seen as a microcosm of China in the era of its reform and opening-up. But the US, which is caught up in deep anxiety, is making panic moves.
Against the backdrop, be it Huawei, or China, when facing such a hegemony that is declining at an accelerating pace, they can only choose to fight back. The fight must not be reckless. It should show how we stand up to the tests after China stepped on the center of the international arena. It is the historic mission of not only Huawei, but also China, to learn and accept international rules, adjust behaviors based on international standards, rediscover the relationship between national interests and global rules, learn how to adjust its own interests to international rules, fight to protect one’s own interests, and eventually make one’s own pursuit the new international rules.
In his report delivered at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “realizing our great dream demands a great struggle.” The US’ crackdown on Huawei embodies the complexity and inevitability of such a struggle.
Confronting the struggle is to abandon such a misconception – the world, especially developed countries such as European nations and the US, which once led the establishment of the current international system, would welcome China, which is playing by the rules. That is not true. They won’t let China take the center stage of the globe and get the interests it deserves.
In the past, there was a false impression that newcomers were welcomed. We thought it was in line with the needs of the developed countries, which could effectively reduce potential opponents while providing a fake goal for other nations to pursue. Before China emerged, the developed world had never encountered substantial challenges. But Huawei and China have made an unexpected accomplishment. Therefore, they must withstand the test of how to effectively protect their legitimate benefits against this backdrop.
As a relative newcomer, China must give up its fantasy. What is happening now is only the first step of “a great struggle.” As Xi noted, we must “build our capability, and keep striving to secure new victories in this great struggle.” Time will prove that China and Huawei, which are on the right side of history, will create more miracles.
The author is head of Fudan University’s Cyberspace Governance Research Institute.
(In association with Global times)