Analysis: China wins Brazilian battle in 5G war with US on points


Since 5G became one of the centerpieces of Cold War 2.0 between the United States and China, starting in 2017, Brazil was seen as one of the most attractive battlegrounds between Western companies and the giant Huawei.

So far, US pressure has had a lot of effect, having removed the Chinese competitor from vital markets in Europe, such as the United Kingdom, and among Washington’s allies such as Australia.

It’s a peculiar fight, given that the US doesn’t have companies with Huawei’s technological capability in 5G, let alone offering more affordable network solutions like the Chinese ones. Thus, the American support went to European manufacturers, such as the Swedish Ericsson and the Finnish Nokia.

Cold War 2.0 was a set of actions, on fronts ranging from trade wars to Hong Kong autonomy, to war tension in the South China Sea and Taiwan, triggered by Donald Trump’s government as a reaction to the growing assertiveness of leader Xi Jinping.

On the menu was the 5G. The reason is simple: in addition to the obvious economic power of whoever holds the largest share of the so-called internet of things market, there are national security considerations.

In the future, the high speeds associated with the new technology will be central not only to integrating your smart refrigerator into the TV, but also in many military applications. From drones to battlefield communication systems.

Of course, you can shield everything in your own systems, but that takes away flexibility — even when trying to influence enemy networks. And there is the issue voiced by the US, data security.

Any and all networks can include diversions that allow spying. The point is that the American charge that this is standard in Huawei’s services has never really been proven. If it seems logical that Beijing would be interested in vital information from US allied governments, it should be remembered that it is not alone.

After all, it was Washington that wiretapped world leaders, including Dilma Rousseff (PT), in the great scandal operated by the National Security Agency in 2011. And it is the Americans who command the Five Eyes network, which unites them with Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand in a major worldwide surveillance operation.

Chinese and Russians, those particularly infamous due to the fact that Vladimir Putin is the favorite villain in the West, do the same. But there is no news, so far, of an instrumentalization of the networks offered by Huawei.

In any case, the Brazilian government bought the idea of ​​Asian insecurity, based mainly on the somewhat paranoid readings of its military area. While Trump, Jair Bolsonaro’s ideological idol, was in power, the exclusion of the Chinese seemed liquid.

Even Biden’s coming to power in January of this year has not changed things: the Democrat has been even tougher in dealing with the Communist dictatorship than his predecessor. But such market reality has imposed itself.

As Brazil’s 3G and 4G networks are inundated with Huawei components, excluding the Chinese would imply an economically unfeasible global replacement schedule. In the UK, a similar solution has become a headache for operators.

Thus, the man in charge of the Brazilian auction, Minister Fábio Faria (Communications), came up with a Solomonic solution also inspired by a decision later abandoned by the British: the slicing of a private government network, to which Huawei could not supply equipments.

With this victory in points, given that the commercial filet to be explored is not the government service, the Chinese have an open path to maintain themselves as central players in the sector in the country. But the US has at least managed to keep the stamp that Huawei is not good for handling sensitive data.

For Bolsonaro and his surroundings, who follow more trumpists than any Republican in the US, it is supposed to be a disappointment. The president and his sons are prodigal in making trouble with Chinese diplomacy, which, from time to time, reminds Brazil that the Asian country is its biggest trading partner.


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