USA losing ground in ‘Tech War’ — 5G rollout obliterates states’ rights

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By Rick Happ | News Analysis

The building blocks of the next Internet age are 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and perhaps most significant, Quantum Computing.  Although Quantum Computers/Software are in the infantile stage, I suspect dramatic announcements within the next decade.  Existing computers are mathematically binary, that is, they work with two states, either a digital ‘1’ or a digital ‘0.’  This is quite simple when compared to the mathematics of a Quantum Computer.

A Quantum Computer is mathematically formulated in ‘qubits’ defined within a ‘Hilbert Space’ (which if I fully understood, I would explain!)  Suffice it to say that Quantum Computers can efficiently solve problems, which are not practically feasible on classical computers.  One can quickly surmise the interest this would have for both US and Chinese Intelligence Agencies, especially with the upcoming 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT).  So much data to handle, so little time!  And if you haven’t already, you can forget about any rights to privacy in the near future.  Quantum Computing will be especially useful in Cryptanalysis, or codebreaking.

Last week, I discussed the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei – China’s telecommunications behemoth. In summary, I stated that Meng Wanzhou’s arrest had nothing to do with the US/International rule of law.  In fact, it had everything to do with the new Internet Age building blocks, especially Huawei’s lead in 5G Technology.  This is a ‘Tech War’, not a ‘Trade War’ and the US is not winning.


China promised severe consequences if Meng Wanzhou was not released.  The retribution is taking place as listed below, some obviously intentional and some, perhaps, by circumstance:

  • Five days after Meng Wanzhou’s arrest by Canada at the behest of the United States, two prominent Canadians were detained in China.  Michael Spavor, the director of the Paektu Cultural Exchange, and Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, who now works for the ‘International Crisis Group,’ were detained over what the Beijing News described as “suspicion of engagement in activities that endanger China’s state security.”
  • A Chinese court on Dec. 10 banned the import and sale of most iPhone models after ruling that Apple is violating two patents belonging to chipmaker Qualcomm.  A United States semiconductor manufacturer, Qualcomm is one of the world’s largest semiconductor manufactures for mobile phones and currently supplies semiconductors for Apple and Huawei’s mobile phones.  For Apple to lose such a large Chinese market is significant. Huawei already sells more phones than Apple, when one considers global sales. Moreover, Apple iPhones are manufactured in China.
  • Qualcomm unveiled its Snapdragon 855 chip at its Tech Summit in Hawaii this December, which will enable commercial use of 5G next year.  Qualcomm’s 5G strategy is dependent on the massive Chinese market, and will be in competition in the not too distant future with Huawei’s Kirin 990 chipset, which will now be released in the first quarter of 2019. This will be Huawei’s first 5G chipset.  I assume this latest US action against Huawei will only hasten Huawei’s 5G overall semiconductor development.  And it is not just in 5G that Huawei is forging further and faster than its rivals.  The new 7 nanometer Ascend 910 chipset that Huawei announced this October is meant for AI data centers that crunch mountains of data.  The chip will process data much faster than rival products and is twice as powerful as its nearest competitor Nvidia’s v100.  I have little doubt that US Intelligence was striving for a backdoor access to this AI chip.
  • US/China Trade Relations and Meng Wanzhou’s arrest are contributing quite negatively to an already volatile stock market.  Tuesday, as I write this, the stock market is on pace for its worst December since the Great Depression.
  • CBC News, a division of The Canadian Broadcasting Company, reported on Dec. 17th that several Chinese automakers planning to expand production into Canada have put their plans on hold.  Canadians had already suffered a severe blow with the recent closing of the General Motors plant in Oshawa.  Canadian auto parts makers were selling about $3 billion a year supporting that GM facility and the Canadian auto industry was hoping to fill that void with the anticipated Chinese investment.
  • China is set to introduce maximum residue limits for glyphosate in all imported food products including grains, soybeans and other legumes.  Glyphosate is a herbicide used to kill weeds, especially annual broadleaf weeds and grasses that compete with crops It is expected that China will now import more grains from Russia, where glyphosate is not widely used.  This allows China to use glyphosate as a political tool in the current US/China trade war, as food imports from the US often contain high levels of the weedkiller.  Despite China’s expected glyphosate restrictions, the situation is not simple because China is a major producer of the herbicide.  In 2017, total global glyphosate production was 1,065,000 tons, with 380,000 tons coming from US-based Monsanto and 685,000 tons from Chinese enterprises.  I assume this announcement has already been baked into the stock market turmoil.

In the days and weeks to follow, I am positive we will see further actions taken by China, just as the US  and its ‘Five Eyes’ allies have increased their rhetoric and actions against China, specifically against Huawei.  The ‘Five Eyes’ are the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.  These countries share signal intelligence (basically each country spies on its own and each others’ citizens, and then shares the data). These nations are now in the process of banning Huawei products.

For those in the US who feel that this 5G Tech War does not directly harm them, they are sadly mistaken.  Besides our privacy concerns, recent FCC Order 18-133, WT Docket No. 17-79, WC Docket No. 17-84, 85 — which together “streamlines the roll-out of 5G” – takes effect on Jan. 14, 2019.

The National League of Cities, The US Conference of Mayors, The National Association of Mayors, The National Association of Counties, The National Association of Regional Councils, The National Association of Towns and Townships, The National Association of Telecommunicaton Officers and Advisors, and over 50 local governments from across the US collectively filed a Motion for Stay of the Order.

The FCC denied that motion! 

The litigation that will be now forthcoming should not be any surprise.  To the credit of FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, she alone has tried to temper the recent FCC rulings:

“Instead of working with our state and local partners to speed the way to 5G deployment, we cut them out. We tell them that going forward Washington will make choices for them—about which fees are permissible and which are not, about what aesthetic choices are viable and which are not, with complete disregard for the fact that these infrastructure decisions do not work the same in New York, New York and New York, Iowa. So it comes down to this: three unelected officials on this dais are telling state and local leaders all across the country what they can and cannot do in their own backyards. This is extraordinary federal overreach. I do not believe the law permits Washington to run roughshod over state and local authority like this and I worry the litigation that follows will only slow our 5G future. For starters, the Tenth Amendment reserves powers to the states that are not expressly granted to the federal government.” [emphasis added]

Unfortunately, as a proud North Carolina citizen from Pamlico County, I am embarrassed that none of our state and local officials have joined to work against this “extraordinary federal overreach.”

President Trump is correct in that import tariffs can be a proper way to promote innovation and manufacturing within a nation.  Running ‘roughshod’ over constitutional guarantees to the bidding of wireless industry behemoths, is not a solution.  Unfortunately, past US trade policies have made Trump’s attempts to correct these problems via tariffs almost futile.  As the old folk saying goes, “It is a day late and a dollar short.