The U.S. sanctions imposed on Huawei Technologies Co., a Chinese multinational technology company, offer an instance of unfair practice and are part of the U.S. undeclared war against China under the Pentagon's military doctrines.
Take, for instance, the concept of Effect Based Operations (EBO), developed within the framework of the strategy of network-centric warfare and advocated by Lieutenant General David A. Deptula, among others. It implied "a process of achieving the desired strategic result or impact on the enemy through the synergistic and combined usage of the full range of military and non-military capabilities at all levels.” The expected effect of EBO is to use techniques that paralyze the enemy and minimize their ability to resist.
However, in 2008, the Pentagon stopped using the term Effect Based Operations after the failure of this concept. Deptula admitted that the military had proved unable to coordinate a combination of military and non-military instruments of influence on the enemy.
In October 2015, Major Jim Thomas, a U.S. military expert, told the Small Wars Journal the main points of the policy of the so-called "strategic blending" which formed the basis of the U.S. army strategy in the Middle East. Strategic blending involves both conventional and irregular methods of attacking the enemy, including coalitions with organized criminal groups and terrorist organizations. Within the framework of this concept, the term "peaceful opposition" came into common use. In fact, it meant pro-American gunmen and the fact that the United States had built up its support for political opposition in the Middle East countries.
However, the strategy failed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, that is, in all the places where it was applied. Given the lessons learned by the U.S. in the Middle East, the policy of "coercive power" was worked out. It was tested in Venezuela and at present, is applied against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran and Russia. This strategy assumes combined application of financial sanctions and offensive-dominated cyber operations against the so-called "target countries", including support for political opposition and military threats.
The policy of "coercive power" implies operational supervision of the campaign against the "target country" by politicians rather than defense officials. Thus, the attacks against Venezuela are coordinated by the Republican Marco Rubio, a U.S. Senator, and Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State. However, no operations of "coercive power" were crowned with success on all conventional operational theatres (Venezuela, Russia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Iran). The U.S. strategists see the causes in the so-called "human factor" -- the incompetence on the operational and tactical levels, the lack of intelligence data and their poor analysis. Americans are pinning hopes on the global automation of data collection and analysis and on creating a comprehensive digital operational theater in the sphere of the so-called “multi-domain warfare.”
The U.S officially recognizes not only the traditional combat operations as the spheres (domains) of multi-domain war but also diplomatic rifts, information and financial/ economic wars, technological conflicts, industrial espionage, as well as the fomentating of civil conflicts in the "target country" by supporting the political opposition.
Currently, one of the main domains of the undeclared war of the U.S. against China is the U.S. sanctions imposed on the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. These sanctions are the initial stage of the U.S. multi-domain operations against China.
Let us recall the timeline of the U.S. trade and financial war against Chinese communications companies.
In February 2018, the heads of six U.S. intelligence agencies told the Senate Committee that they did not trust Huawei and ZTE and recommended Americans not to use smartphones or other gadgets from these companies.
A bit later, the security services of Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, that together with the Americans form the so-called Five Eyes intelligence and defense data sharing network, joined the attack on Chinese companies.
On July 17, 2018, the heads of intelligence services from the U.S., Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand met to adjust their plans to ban Huawei from operating in their countries.
Two days later, the UK state laboratory that had been established for the specific purpose of assessing the Huawei hardware and software, reported that they had found "shortcomings” in Huawei's engineering processes leading to increased security risks.
In mid-August 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a law passed by Congress specifically prohibiting U.S. government agencies from buying or using telecoms and supervisory products from Chinese companies such as ZTE and Huawei.
A week later, Australia announced a similar ban. In late November 2018, the New Zealand intelligence agency banned Huawei from participating in the development of 5G on the ground of "significant threats to the national security.” In early December 2018, Japan also claimed that Huawei and ZTE would be banned from hosting their 5G networks. In mid-December 2018, the French telecommunications company Orange, formerly known as France Telecom, declared that it would not use Huawei equipment in its 5G network. German Deutsche Telekom said it is considering security issues of Huawei equipment. On 17 December 2018, the Czech authorities warned its residents against the use of Huawei equipment for security reasons. In mid-January 2019, the Polish government arrested a Huawei employee on charges of espionage.
On 15 May 2019, Donald Trump signed a decree declaring a national emergency in the country to deal with the alleged threat posed by the unrestricted acquisition or use in the U.S. of information and communications technologies supplied by persons belonging to, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of foreign adversaries. The White House stated that "foreign adversaries" had deliberately embedded vulnerabilities in their information products to engage in malicious cyber activities, including economic and industrial espionage against the United States and its people.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has been instructed to block transactions that pose an "unacceptable risk to national security of the United States." Although the decree did not name any companies, it was obvious to everyone that first of all, it was aimed at Huawei.
The next day, May 16, 2019, the U.S. Department of Commerce added Huawei and its 70 branches to the Entity List of companies, which are not allowed to buy high-tech products and technologies from American companies without government approval.
In fact, the sudden US attack on Huawei was caused by the failure of trade negotiations between the two countries. The U.S. introduced new trade tariffs on Chinese goods worth $200 billion. China introduced return tariffs worth $60 billion. As a result, on May 13, the U.S. stock market crashed by $1 trillion in a single day. Industrial giants that dependent on the Chinese market suffered the most: Boeing and Caterpillar lost 5% of their capitalization; 5.2% of the value was lost by Tesla, 5.8% by Apple, and 10.8% by Uber.
After the U.S. Department of Commerce attacked Huawei, it became known that Google would partially break off a contract with it. In particular, it refused to provide Huawei with closed source software updates for the Android system. The future generations of Huawei smartphones will not have access to Google services, including the Google Play app store, Chrome browser, Gmail and YouTube. These restrictions took effect on May 19.
Those prompt and coordinated actions of the U.S. president speak for that fact that the strategy for a multi-domain warfare against China has been planned and agreed in advance. The crackdown on Huawei is a warning signal not only for China.
According to Bloomberg sources, a number of leading U.S. microchip producers, including Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx and Broadcom, followed Google’s lead and stopped their business transactions with Huawei. Lumentum Holdings, which sold Huawei components, also announced that it had suspended sales.
Huawei is the world's second largest smartphone retailer, ahead of Apple and behind Samsung." The company was en route to becoming the biggest smartphone seller in Europe, and not just in Europe but worldwide, said Francisco Jeronimo, London-based associated vice president of IDC, a global market intelligence firm. According to him, without access to Google services, it is almost impossible for Huawei to sell smartphones outside China.
The U.S. government is cracking down hard on Huawei, commented The Verge, an American technology-news online magazine operated by Vox Media, publishing news, feature stories, guidebooks, product reviews, and podcasts.
Lawmakers and intelligence officials have claimed the telecommunications giant could be exploited by the Chinese government for espionage, presenting a potentially grave national security risk, especially as the US builds out its next-generation 5G network, the Verge wrote. To respond to that threat, officials say, they’ve blocked government use of the company’s equipment, while the Justice Department has also accused Huawei’s chief financial officer of violating sanctions against Iran, and the company itself of stealing trade secrets.
In an interview with The Verge, a number of prominent politicians and scholars including senator Marco Rubio, the Democrat senator Mark Warner, Robert Williams, a nonresident senior fellow in the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings, Nicholas Weaver, a senior staff researcher focusing on computer security at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, California, William Snyder, a professor of Syracuse University's College of Law, Francis Dinha CEO of OpenVPN and Qing Wang, professor of marketing & innovation, University of Warwick, unanimously admitted that there is no evidence that Huawei has ever engaged or is engaging in espionage.
However, U.S. Attorney General William Barr claimed that not only Huawei, but ZTE, another Chinese communications giant, posed a threat to U.S. national security, too. Barr insisted that Huawei and ZTE are anything other than a threat to the U.S. collective security, for that is exactly what they, through their actions, have shown themselves to be. In response, Huawei said that throughout the 30 years of business, Huawei it had never had a major security-related incident in the 170 countries where we operate.
U.S. telecoms companies have involved their allies in the attacks on China, too. Back in November 2018, the State Department appealed to them to stop using Huawei equipment. Relevant warnings were brought to the notice of telecoms operators in Germany, Italy, Japan and several other countries. As reported by The Wall Street Journal on November 23, 2018, officials of the U.S. Presidential Administration of Donald Trump promised financial assistance to friendly countries to develop communication networks without Chinese equipment.
In January 2019, Huawei's products, both telephones and network equipment, were banned from Taiwan's government agencies because Huawei allegedly might build backdoors into its encrypted products. William Barr delivered on his promises and launched a criminal investigation against Huawei on charges of stealing intellectual property from T-Mobile and other companies.
Taiwan's decision was preceded by Australia's ban on purchasing equipment for next-generation 5G networks from Huawei and other Chinese telecommunications companies by the local operators.
The United Kingdom, Canada, the Czech Republic, Norway and Japan have also begun to reconsider their relationships with Huawei.
U.S. sanctions dealt a heavy blow to ZTE. The latter even announced it would cease operations after the U.S. Department of Commerce banned U.S. companies from doing business with ZTE because of its sales to Iran. Eventually, the US decided to lift the ban and allow ZTE to continue its business, but the company had to pay a $900 million fine, (above the $1 billion fine that was previously imposed), replace the entire board of directors and top executives and allow a team from the U.S. -- the so-called "compliance coordinators" -- to control the company's operations.
U.S. officials seem to be taking a stricter stance against Huawei than against ZTE: no ZTE executives have been arrested. Analysts believe that Huawei is not as vulnerable as ZTE. Huawei is financially more stable than ZTE, says industry expert Chetan Sharma. And Huawei is less dependent on mobile phone business than ZTE. Plus, Huawei's mobile phone business is less dependent on U.S. technology than ZTE. In summary, it can be noted once again that the U.S. sanctions against two Chinese telecoms companies are “part and parcel” of a carefully considered strategy of multi-domain warfare against America's current main geo-economic competitor. Therefore, when it comes to war, it has nothing to do with the priorities of justice and fair play, but only with the short-term interests of American financial and industrial capital.