Speaking at a conference in Washington today, US Attorney General William Barr intimated that the US and its allies should invest in Huawei competitors to stem the Chinese company’s growing 5G market share.
Barr singled out Finish firm Nokia and Swedish firm Ericsson as two possible targets for investments.
“The Chinese are using every lever of power to expand their 5G market share around the globe,” Barr said at the China Initiative conference, held today at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in Washington.
“China is offering over $100 billion in incentives to finance customers’ purchases of its equipment. This means that the Chinese can offer customers to build their 5G networks for no money down.”
Barr suggested that the US could counteract Beijing’s support of Huawei by “aligning itself with Nokia and/or Ericsson through American ownership of a controlling stake, either directly or through a consortium of private American and allied companies.”
“Putting our large market and financial muscle behind one or both of these firms would make it a more formidable competitor,” Barr said.
“We and our closest allies certainly need to be actively considering this approach,” the US Attorney General said.
A vast portion of Barr’s speech was dedicated to warning about the dangers of allowing China to control a large portion of the 5G network, and the damage this could do to US companies and allies.
Previously, US officials have claimed China could use its control over the 5G infrastructure to spy on worldwide 5G traffic, steal proprietary data from foreign firms, and intercept sensitive government communications.
Barr suggested the avenue in investing in Nokia and Ericsson due to a lack of any US-based 5G equipment manufacturer.
In his speech, the US General Attorney also touched on China’s practice of stealing intellectual property from foreign countries, either by insiders, partnerships, or hacking.
He also hinted that the US might bring more charges against Chinese hackers and data thieves in the coming future.
Barr’s full speech is available below, at 2:14:05.