Technology rivalry: 5G
Europe is controversially discussing whether to ban the Chinese tech-giant Huawei from the rollout of the new generation of mobile infrastructure, better known as 5G, not least due to conflicting pressures from the governments of the United States and the People’s Republic of China. 5G is a critical infrastructure and will penetrate European society and its economy to an unprecedented extent. It will revolutionize our societies enabling self-driving vehicles and driving the next wave of automation of industrial production.
Proponents of a ban argue that Huawei is closely allied with the authoritarian Chinese party-state, which could utilize Huawei equipment for espionage and sabotage. The argument is that banning Huawei is a matter of increasing network security in Europe. Critics of a ban, in turn, point to economic advantages of economic cooperation in China and of an early rollout of 5G.
In my research, I aim to add to the picture the issue of technological dependencies. This departs from the assumption that network security is indeed a matter of concern. However, to address this issue, technological measures are more effective than an outright ban of a supplier. In addition to network security, we should rather consider that China could leverage European (over-)dependence on Chinese technology to extract political concessions from the EU. The conflict over 5G and Huawei will probably turn out to be the first of many similar conflicts.
At a time of rising geopolitical and geo-economic tensions between the US and China, Europe finds itself in an uncomfortable position. While the European discussion mainly focusses on how to reach European "digital sovereignty" through self-reliance, I aim to contribute to the question how the European Union could preserve access to strategic technology by means of diversification of the supply chain and underlying patents.
In my work, I actively aim to cooperate with technical experts (engineers, computer scientists, hackers), economists, lawyers, industry, policymakers and social scientists, particularly China scholars.
Related selected publications & media appearances:
Publication: (with Jan-Peter Kleinhans): China's omnipresence: Open RAN is no solution to the "5G China challenge". CHERN Policy Brief. Amsterdam: China in Europe Research Network.
Publication: 2022: Open RAN - not solving the “5G China challenge. Prague: CHOICE.
Publication: 2022: Chinas Beteiligung am Hamburger Hafen. Investition mit Risiko. DGAP Online Kommentar. Berlin: DGAP.
Publication: 2022 (with Jan-Peter Kleinhans): The false promise of Open RAN: Why Open RAN does not solve the "5G China challenge". Berlin: Digital Power China.
Publicatin: 2022 (with Liesbet van der Perre): Wireless networks and EU-China relations beyond the “Huawei debate”: Is China a partner, competitor or systemic rival on 5G and 6G?, in: Tim Rühlig (ed.): Assessing China's Digital Power and its Implications for the EU. Berlin: Digital Power China, pp. 33-45.
Publication: 2022: A Sovereign Europe... and China, in: Internationale Politik Quarterly.
Publication: 2022: Weniger abhängig von China?, in: Internationale Politik January/Febraury 2022, pp. 36-38.
Publication: 2021 (with Björn Fägersten): Infrastructure Development and Geoeconomic Competition: A Framework for Analysis, in: Borchert, Heiko/Strobl, Johann (eds.): Storms Ahead. The Future Geoeconomic World Order. Vienna: Raiffeisen Bank International, pp. 156-171.
Publication: Who Controls Huawei? Implications for Europe. UI Paper 5/2020. Stockholm: UI.
Publication: (with Maja Björk): What to Make of the Huawei Debate? 5G Network Security and Technology Dependency in Europe. UI Paper 1/2020. Stockholm: UI.
Publication: (with John Seaman and Daniel Voelsen): 5G and the US-China Tech Rivalry – a test for Europe’s future in the digital age. How can Europe shift from back foot to front foot? SWP Comment. Berlin: SWP.
Media: "Kinas plan: Verbala attacken mot Sverige ska skrämma Tyskland", 26 January 2021, Dagens Industri.
Media: "Sweden faces Chinese blowback over Huawei ban", 21 January 2021, Politico.
Media (in German): "Streit um die „Lex Huawei“", 18 December 2020, Deutschlandfunk (Radio)
Media (in Swedish): "Huaweis högkvarter hyllar Europa – men känslorna är obesvarade", 23 November 2020, Dagens Nyheter.
Media: "China expert 'cautiously optimistic' about chance of possible 5G retaliation", 21 October 2020, Swedish Radio.
Media: "In banning Huawei and ZTE, Sweden calls China a national security threat", 21 October 2020, South China Morning Post.
Media: "China Warns Sweden Against Taking Measures to Ban Huawei, ZTE", 22 October 2020, Albawaba.
Media (in Polish): "Szwecja zakazuje sprzętu Huawei i ZTE w sieci 5G" 21 October 2020, Wyborcza.
Media: "No Huawei for bidders in Sweden's 5G auctions", 20 October 2020, Light Reading.
Media (in Swedish): ”Kinaexperten: Coronakrisen har påverkat Storbritannien kring Huawei”, 14 Juli 2020.
Media (in Swedish): “Forskaren: Därför kan man inte lita på Huawei“, 4 February 2020.
Media (in German): “Huawei gehört angeblich seinen Mitarbeitern – doch die haben nicht viel zu sagen“, 11 May 2020, Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
Media (in French): “Crainte de Huawei : de la sinophobie à l’opportunité “, 5 August 2019, La Presse.
Media: “The Improbable Rise of Huawei”, 3, April 2019, Foreign Policy.
Media: “Huawei’s troubles have exposed the US-China tech war. How prepared is Europe to defend its interests?”, 8 February 2019, The South China Morning Post.