Huawei threatens democracy: an interview with Robert Spalding

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China is about to establish technological tyranny through 5G technology, and is fast becoming a direct threat to democracy. How is Huawei changing the way the democratic world functions? And what can we do to stop China’s global brainwashing? The Liberty Magazine spoke with the architect of the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy.

What Is 5G?

Interviewer: You were the chief architect of the framework for national competition in the Trump administration’s National Security, as a senior director for strategy to the president. Can you tell us about your basic idea on the Secure 5G internet capability nationwide described in the National Security Strategy? What was your main concept?

Spalding: In our current technological foundation for mobile computing and internet, 4G, the network is a pipe. The mobile device is the platform that has enabled the apps, services and business models enabling tremendous economic growth. But it’s also brought tremendous challenges to democratic societies. The combination of big data analysis, artificial intelligence, social networks, and E-commerce, enables foreign actors and nation states to do targeted influence of populations. We saw this during the 2016 elections where the Russians basically made it look like Black Lives Matter were leading a protest in New York. In reality, it was the Russians using social media networks, artificial intelligence bots, and big data analysis to separate and understand the different constituencies that could be targeted, and then brought them together for the protest. That was all done using the platform of 4G. If you look at the 4G platform itself, the network enabled connectivity of the mobile device, but the mobile device became the platform that the ecosystems were built on.

Now, the primary beneficiary of that world were Google and Apple. They created Android and iOS as the two main platforms for building the app services and business models of the mobile world. Now if you think about Apple, the dominant player at one point in smartphones, they engineered the smartphone to be hardware-software integrated: totally secure and device encrypted. When they connected it to iCloud, it enabled easier access to your data. But in the beginning, it was designed to be a very private device. Now, why was it designed to be a very private device? Because it was made by an American company. So in essence, the technology of the iPhone had American principles designed into it. If you look at 5G as a technology, it blends that network – the pipe – and the computing.

So the platform for the apps, services and business models of the 5G world is actually going to be the network itself, not the device. This is the first network built mainly for machines not man. Machines are going to connect to the network: self-driving cars, robotic surgery, advanced manufacturing, advanced agriculture, drones, and all kinds of different machines that aren’t currently connected to the 4G network. The 4G network only allows 10,000 devices per square mile, whereas the 5G network allows 3 million devices per square mile. Now we’re going to have 3 million more people per square mile when we build a 5G network, so it’s not going to be machines that make up the difference. So 5G is a network built for machines that blends computing and the network into the same infrastructure platform for development.

Data Is a Strategic Resource

Now, the other challenge with the way we’ve built the underlying technological foundation goes back to the very beginning of the internet. In the beginning, the net was designed to connect mainframe computers. Before they could connect via a network, these computers needed a way to move data from computer to computer. You needed to have a data model that allowed you to very efficiently aggregate data, put it on a disc, and then – they call it sneakernet – move it over to another computer and put the disc in. So the data model allowed you to copy millions of files. The compression algorithms allowed you to move enormous amounts of data. So now, you have a data model that really allows for data aggregation. So when you go from wired internet to 2G to 3G to 4G to 5G using this data model, you have ability to rapidly aggregate data. In the National Security Strategy, what we say is, in the 21st-century world, data aggregation is the equivalence of power aggregation. In other words, if you have data, you have power. The more data you have, the more power you have.

Data is a strategic resource. It allows you to do big data analytics. Artificial intelligence allows you to improve your algorithms. It allows you to conduct massive surveillance. It allows you to do targeted influence. It allows you, when you have a network full of machines, to use those machines for bad purposes. So in essence, the data model itself is flawed. It’s a data model that actually promotes totalitarianism in a fully connected world. In order to prevent that, you have to change the data model.

And so the idea behind a secure-encrypted nationwide 5G network for America was to tie data to the individual. Make your data your own. It’s a secure-encrypted network with data-centric security model that’s identity-based. That means that the only person who can access your data – for example, data about who, when, where you are – is you, the individual. That’s an extremely democratizing idea, as opposed to our current technological foundation. So it wasn’t just about 5G. It was about rethinking how you create democratic principles in a digital world.

Interviewer: If and when Huawei dominates the global 5G network, what national security threats are we going to face?

Spalding: So going back to, Apple: Apple built our principles into the iPhone. Huawei is building Chinese Communist Party (CCP) principles into not just their smartphones, but into the entire network. The 5G network is going to be a platform for the apps, services and business models of the future. So these apps, services and business models, that essentially runs the global economy, is going to have CCP principles built into it. So, what are CCP principles? The CCP does not believe in free-market system, they don’t believe in democratic principles, they don’t believe in the rule of law, and they don’t believe in self-determination.

Now, before the invention of globalization and the internet, you needed tanks or ships or planes to enforce that kind of philosophy or those kinds of principles on a nation’s population. Today, with globalization and the internet, you can go directly to the people. You don’t need ships. You don’t need tanks. You don’t need planes. It’s all available because democratic societies are open. The only societies that aren’t open are the totalitarian societies. Because the CCP figured out that if you open your society to globalization and the internet, then democratic principles can flow in. The CCP realized that not only can they seal off their own society from democratic principles, free-market principles, rule of law and self-determination; they could begin using finance, economics, the market pull from 1.4 billion Chinese people, and financial incentives to incentivize open democracies to begin adopting totalitarian principles. What does that look like? Well, it looks like an employee working for Marriott Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska liking a tweet about Tibet, and the Chinese calling Marriott Corporation to fire the employee. It results in corporate America censoring Americans who live in a free country who should have the right to free speech.

The Huawei Problem

Interviewer: Local governments in 230 cities across 90 countries have set up Huawei safety surveillance systems, and The New York Times recently reported on the surveillance problem in Ecuador. Some say that it’s also happening in Serbia. Do you think the whole world would eventually fall under China’s surveillance?

Spalding: Huawei is building CCP principles into their devices. So that means Chinese law says, you have to have backdoors in the hardware and the software. So the answer is, absolutely. Of course. We’ve already seen Nokia phones. Nokia phones, with a Chinese code base, operating in Europe, sending data back to China. So it’s a Nokia phone, but it’s operating on a China software code base. Standards, global standards, are driven by whoever builds the most infrastructure. Through Huawei, the CCP wants to build the most infrastructure. Nobody wants to build a phone that only works in one country. They want it to work globally. So they’re going to build it to operate globally. The question is always, “Who sets the standards?” “Who builds the networks?” That’s why the CCP wanted Huawei to win in 5G. Because now, everybody builds a phone that works according to the way China wants, which have backdoors and everything. So in answer to your question: Yes, we can do global surveillance and targeted influence.

Interviewer: Do you think there will be subsequent terrorist attacks on network infrastructure in other countries?

Spalding: No. I’m not worried about terrorist attacks. What China seeks to do is grow power through business and commerce. Through the incentive system, they are convincing you to voluntarily give up your freedoms. They’re convincing you to behave in a certain way, through the price you pay for your shoes, through the universities you get into, through the jobs you get. I call it Six Sigma fascism. Six Sigma applies to the ends of a normal bell curve. The CCP seeks to suppress the outliers. The want to promote conformity. The Six Sigma fascism seeks to suppress people who want to think outside the box: people like Einstein or Szilard, or anybody that’s an artist or an inventor or a dreamer. Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. Those are the kinds of people who get caught in this suppression. The only problem is that innovation comes from the outliers.

But over time this model has worked for the CCP because they have full connection to democratic societies where the outliers tend to be. Over time, they will seek to do this to the whole world. Now, people say, “Well, in the end, won’t that lead to less innovation?” Yes, it will eventually lead to less innovation. But when CCP is the dominant player in the globe, they don’t care anymore, because they’ll already have the power.

How China Is Taking Control in the Net-Powered World

Interviewer: Countries in Africa and Eastern Europe experiencing financial difficulties are now taking on the Huawei 5G infrastructure. Do you think low income nations will continue to embrace Huawei technology? For example, Hungary’s government has made Huawei their strategic IT partner.

Spalding: All countries will. All companies will. And that is because Huawei subsidizes the equipment, subsidizes the financing, and subsidizes the installation. All companies want to increase their profit margins, so if the network equipment provider is going to give you subsidized equipment, financing, and installation, of course you’re going to take it.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, you had to build a big army out of a big military budget in order to conquer a society. What the CCP figured out is, that’s not how you take control in the globalized internet-powered world. You take control through business, finance, trade, the internet, media, politics, and economics.

It’s a path of low risk for conflict. It’s an easy path because all the players at the corporate, individual, political and academic levels can be incentivized through some sort of financial arrangement. I you’re a Corporation, you’re getting more profits, so you’re very happy. If you’re an individual, you’re getting lower prices, so you’re very happy. If you’re a professor running a university, more students paying full tuition, you’re very happy. If you’re a politician, more jobs in your district because there’s investment, you’re very happy.

So in each of these stages, the CCP uses a lever of finance, economics, trade, investment, immigration, the internet, politics, and media as ways to strengthen their ties to society over time. It is slowly converting that society away from values such as free-market and democratic principles, the rule of law, and self-determination, to one of, “Just give us better things. Make us more wealthy. We’ll do whatever you want.”

Huawei Is About National Security

Interviewer: On May 16th, Trump imposed sanctions on Huawei. As a result, companies such as Intel, Qualcomm, Micron Technologies, and the British ARM Holdings have frozen their semiconductor deals with Huawei. Can you tell us about how these decisions could influence Huawei? Trump tweeted that this can be potential material for negotiations with China about the trade war. Do you think he will really open negotiations?

Spalding: Huawei is about national security. The trade war is also about the national security, but they’re separate issues. One is about the technology layer of the global E-economy, and the other is about stealing of intellectual property and the forced transfer of technology through joint venture partnerships and other non-market-based activities by the CCP. And so the Huawei thing is going to continue. It is absolutely separate from the trade deal. It’s not a negotiating tactic. It is part of how we’re moving forward to protect our economy, our democracy, and the economy and democracy of other nations via the Wassenaar Arrangement. Other members of the Wassenaar Arrangement are obliged to also put Huawei on the Entity List. Other companies that are selling Huawei chips may soon find themselves also on the Entity List by violating that. In other words, companies like TSMC in Taiwan, who is still selling chips to Huawei, will find themselves unable to get products from the U.S. anymore because they were also placed on the Entity List. This is coming.

Interviewer: Do you think Huawei has a future?

Spalding: It has a future in China.

A Mission for Democracy

Interviewer: Some people think that not using Huawei will slow down 5G testing and development. So how do you think we should go about solving this issue?

Spalding: 5G deployment is currently unsecured. So the question is, do societies want self-driving cars connected to a non-secure network that has computing networking available? Or remote surgery devices, or drones, or any other thing that can actually harm you? Do they want that connected to an unsecured 5G network? So the question is not, “will it slow down 5G deployment and development?” Is it smart to deploy and develop 5G networks that are unsecured? No, it’s not. It’s incredibly dangerous to societies. We’re already overwhelmed with cyber-attacks. We’re already overwhelmed with influence of our citizens by nation states. We’re going to be even more overwhelmed if we deploy 5G network that’s not secured.

Interviewer: Huawei owns already 35% of key 5G patents, while the US owns only 40%. So some countries arrived to the US, such as Britain and Germany, might be afraid of the Galapagos syndrome, which means the technology might undergo isolated development that is different from the rest of the world. What are your thoughts on this?

Spalding: Democratic societies have to come together to link, not only their security, but also their economic, financial, trade, investment, internet, immigration, media, and politics together. So that’s a very large segment of the global economy. Democracies make up probably the largest segment of the global economy. And so the idea is that if democracies come together, share the best practices for data security, share the best practices for free trade, for democratic principles, for rule of law, and self-determination, that the democratic global community will thrive in that environment: their economies will grow, their people will be happier, they’ll be more free.

And like during the Cold War, this freedom, this opportunity, this economic vitality will shine as a beacon to the rest of the world – China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Turkey, and others. That their people will see, “Look at what they have! They have healthy, vibrant, prosperous, free societies. We have increasingly totalitarian, oppressed, closed societies with little opportunity for growth or advancement or the pursuit of happiness.”

Sub-6 and Post-5G

Interviewer: Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that the 5G spectrum the U.S. plans to adopt is inferior to the sub-6 spectrum used by other countries. The Department of Defense has that amount of capability, and it should be shared across the country. And Washington Post journalist Josh Rogin has the same opinion. What decision do you think the U.S. should make in 5G development?

Spalding: Yeah. This is not a policy decision. This is not a political decision. This is about physics. The signal in high-band in millimeter wave does not penetrate the human body. It does not go very long distances. You cannot deploy a nationwide network with high-band. You must deploy it in sub-6. That’s physics. It’s not opinion. It’s not conjecture. It is how God designed radiowaves.

Interviewer: So you agree with Gingrich?

Spalding: Yeah, it has to be sub-6.

Interviewer: Do you think that the United States should establish a cooperative development program with Japan and the EU?

Spalding: Yes.

Interviewer: Japan is currently undertaking joint research development with Europe in post-5G technology. Do you think America should continue to fight in the 5G realm or aim to defeat China at the post-5G level?

Spalding: So the post-5G realm is actually a change to the waveform. In 5G networks, the waveform is delivered in software. So you have software-based networks and software-based radios. So 6G is really just new software, like an update on your phone. So the base hardware design, how we deploy the infrastructure in terms of the antennas and things of that nature, 5G allows for quite a bit of advancement into other waveforms just through software upgrades to the network. So of course, some people are working on 6G. But you should still deploy the 5G antennas, and the 5G infrastructure allows you to take advantage of artificial intelligence, and the increase in use of those platforms to help understand how we can deploy faster, more capable computing networks that also are absolutely 100% data-centric and identity-based secure.

Interviewer: We should not let China conquer 5G.

Spalding: Absolutely not. That would be the end of democracy worldwide.

Post-Quantum Encryption

Interviewer: 5G information cannot be processed without a quantum computer, and China is also advanced in quantum computer development. If China has achieved advanced developments in both the 5G network and quantum computer technology, they could potentially decrypt Pentagon encryptions. What can we do to confront this national security threat?

Spalding: Do you remember [the computer bug] Y2K?

Interviewer: Yes.

Spalding: We have now Q2K, which means that we need to develop post-quantum encryption. That’s very important. Post-quantum encryption means that it’s encryption that can’t be broken by a quantum computer. Essentially, in order to achieve post-quantum encryption, you have to create a true random number, and that is totally capable today. Those capabilities are being developed, and soon, will be deployed across networks to provide completely secured encrypted format that is not capable of being broken by a quantum computer no matter how powerful.

Interviewer: So the situation is dangerous.

Spalding: Yes. That’s why we need to develop and deploy post-quantum encryption.

Winning the Tech Cold War

Interviewer: About future strategies. We are now in what some people call a tech cold war, and you were one of the first people in the United States to sound the alarm about the phenomenon. Imagining what the world could be like in 10 years, what can we do to win the race in advanced technology development and, therefore, win the tech cold war?

Spalding: We need to have democracies work together to lead the next technological revolution in secure computing with identity-based post-quantum-encrypted data-centric secure computers in networking like 5G, 6G, 7G. We have the talent. We have the innovation. We have the technology. All it requires is to come together as democracies, and be determined to protect our democratic digital future.

Interviewer: Do you have any specific advice or suggestions for the Japanese government about 5G?

Spalding: Well, it is so important to preserve our digital democracy in the future, and the government actually has to take the lead on this. Right now, industries are incentivized to deploy cheap, unsecured networks. You don’t want to do that. You want to deploy identity-based data-centric security across the 5G network. You want to deploy it across your entire country because it enables you to develop apps, services and business models very quickly, and take advantage of the economic growth that’s going to come, by attaching all those machines and using them in ways that help you do things in your everyday life better. So it absolutely has to be led by the government in partnership with the industry.

Interviewer: Thank you very much.

Spalding: Thank you.

The Interviewer: Satoshi Nishihata from The Liberty Web

About Robert Spalding

Robert Spalding is a senior fellow at Hudson Institute. His work focuses on U.S.-China relations, economic and national security, and the Asia-Pacific military balance.

Spalding has served in senior positions of strategy and diplomacy within the Defense and State Departments for more than 26 years, and is an accomplished innovator in government and a national security policy strategist. As Senior Director for Strategy to the President, he was the chief architect of the framework for national competition in the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy (NSS). He has earned recognition for his knowledge of Chinese economic competition, cyber warfare, and political influence, as well as for his ability to forecast global trends and develop innovative solutions.

Spalding is fluent in Chinese Mandarin. During the UUV Incident of 2016, Spalding averted a diplomatic crisis by negotiating with the Chinese PLA for the return of the UUV, without the aid of a translator.

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