The battle between fading US tech giants and their Chinese rivals spans the globe. China’s Huawei appears to have won the battle in its own backyard of Asia, but what about in Europe where the US still holds a large amount of leverage it is not afraid to use?
A self-described “non-profit independent journalism center in Hungary” has recently published an article titled, “Hungary’s government is quietly neck-deep in the U.S.-Huawei war.”
In it, the “non-profit” Direkt36 claims:
Viktor Orban’s government has found itself in the middle of a great power conflict in 2019. Last year, a new battleground emerged in the trade war between the United States and China. Washington accused Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei of espionage on behalf of the Chinese state and of corporate espionage.
It also claims (emphasis added):
Although Hungary’s significance is relatively small in NATO and EU decision-making because of the size of the country, it still plays an important role in the European debate on Huawei. Hungary’s government regularly vetoes or blocks European decisions unfavorable to China’s political leadership, and one of Huawei’s most important European hubs is in Hungary.
Direkt36 went as far as quoting the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo:
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a clear message to the Hungarian government during his February 2019 visit. “Russia is not the only power that wants to erode freedom in this region. I raised with Peter [Szijjarto] today the dangers of allowing China to gain a bridgehead in Hungary,” Pompeo said, standing next to the Hungarian Foreign Minister at a press conference after their talks. “Beijing’s handshake sometimes comes with strings, strings that will leave Hungary indebted both economically and politically,” the Secretary of State said, promising that, from now on, the United States would play an active role in stopping China in the Central European region.
For the US, getting Hungary to reverse its habit of vetoing EU decisions unfavorable to China is and pressuring it to divest from companies like Huawei why it funds centers like Direkt36 to decry Hungary-China relations and Huawei’s gains there.
Despite Direkt36 claiming to be some sort of independent Hungarian center for journalism, its article reads like a paid promotion for the US State Department. Virtually the entire issue of Hungarian-Chinese relations was presented through the filter of US interests, a nation located an ocean away from Europe.
Upon examining Direkt36’s funding and affiliations it becomes clear why this is.
Direkt36 is not “Independent,” Not “Journalists”
On Direkt36’s website alone it admits it is funded by convicted financial criminal George Soros’ Open Society Foundation and run by a collection of former-BBC staff, US State Department Fulbright scholars and other products of US-EU education and indoctrination.
Direkt36 also admits it is funded by the New York-based Rockefeller Foundation and Internews.
Internews is in turn funded by Western IT and media corporations (Facebook, Google, Channel 4 and SkyNews) as well as the US government itself through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID.
Huawei is Outcompeting Western Rivals For Good Reason
Despite Direkt36’s attempts to launder US State Department talking points through its “independent journalism center,” even its own article admits that across the rest of Europe Huawei is gaining ground.
Even in nations known for their expertise in telecommunications like Finland and Norway, many projects have used Huawei technology instead.
Despite Direkt36 alluding to “European intelligence services” issuing “multiple warnings that the company’s equipments pose security risks,” the article is forced to admit that nations as big and as influential within the European Union as Germany trust Huawei enough to contribute “to the German 5G network buildout.”
Consider the amount of money the US alone has spent funding fronts like Direkt36 or on its ongoing trade war with China including attempts to strongarm nations around the world to ban or boycott Chinese companies including (or even especially) Huawei.
Imagine if that money was instead invested in research and development toward creating and implementing telecommunication infrastructure at levels of quality and pricing that could simply compete with Huawei.
The successful products of such investments would speak for themselves both within the realm of public opinion and within policymaking circles around the globe charged with evaluating and investing in partners for infrastructure development.
How do we know this strategy would work? Chinese companies are already using it, and using it successfully. Despite heavy US pressure on nations across Southeast Asia and America’s still powerful grip on global media, nearly all nations have signed agreements with Huawei save for Vietnam which is barring Huawei for its own political reasons independent of US pressure.
Despite US tech companies barring Huawei from access to essential components and even from the otherwise ubiquitous Android operating system used on smartphones around the globe, Huawei continues to adapt and gain ground.
Short of the US adopting a new strategy to deal with China’s rise or its acceptance as a nation among nations rather than presiding above them, Huawei and other businesses sprouting across the developing world will continue to whittle away at US unipolarism until nothing is left.
The definition of insanity is often claimed to be doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. For the US, how else should we describe a foreign policy based on coercion that clearly doesn’t work but is still being used regardless?
For US businesses who are interested in a constructive role in the multipolar future that is emerging, they should resist the temptation to be drawn into the US trade war and instead look for ways to circumvent and undermine it. From the basic premises underlining the current US position to the dubious means it uses to advance it, it fails to add up and offers no future to those who invest in it.
Gunnar Ulson, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.