In a dramatic U-turn, the British government is scrapping Chinese telecom giant Huawei's involvement in modernizing its internet infrastructure. And the Trump White House is crowing with glee.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hailed London's decision as "protecting free-world values." What values might they be? Bullying, intimidation, subservience, empire-building?
The Trump administration has been piling pressure on the British to back away from earlier plans to partner with Huawei for developing its 5G wireless network. American sanctions and a media campaign vilifying Chinese technology as a national security threat seems to have won the day.
Boris Johnson's government overturned its previous decision in January to partner with Huawei. British telecom operators have now been ordered to stop using Huawei's technology and to rip out existing 5G equipment over a seven-year period.
The British government admits that this reversal will result in delays for modernizing the country's telecoms services -- seen as vital for economic development -- and will add huge costs of up to £2 billion ($2.5 bn) for eventual replacement. Something which taxpayers and consumers will no doubt have to pay for.
So much for the much-vaunted Anglo-American "special relationship." It's special alright. Uncle Sam calls the shots -- and Britain shoots itself in the foot.
It should be obvious that the whole debacle has nothing to do with alleged "national security concerns" and everything to do with Washington strong-arming for commercial and strategic advantage.
Huawei, the world's largest telecoms equipment maker, is supplanting American technology across the world. And Washington is endeavouring to blacklist the company in order to give its own firms a competitive advantage. The Trump administration has accused Huawei -- without evidence -- of offering a backdoor to the "Chinese Communist Party" for global surveillance.
It takes a lot of brass neck for the Americans to punt that particular line given the actual global spying that its tech giants have enabled the US-based National Security Agency to conduct, as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The battle over technology and commerce is only part of the bigger strategic struggle which Washington views as vital to sustaining its presumed global power. American capitalism and power view the world as a zero-sum contest. All perceived competitors must be vanquished or controlled so that American power can prevail as an all-dominant entity.
To that end, Washington must necessarily portray the world in polarizing Cold War terms of "us against them," or of so-called "allies against enemies."
As Chinese and Russian diplomats have repeatedly pointed out, Washington seems incapable of shedding its Cold War ideology of "containment" and "great power rivalry." For American capitalism, the idea of mutual partnership and cooperation is simply and utterly anathema.
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