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US targets Chinese technology to put their minds at rest – Opinion

A booth promotes Huawei’s HarmonyOS during an exhibition in Shanghai. CHEN YUYU/FOR CHINA DAILY

For years, Huawei has faced allegations from the West that its products have “back doors” that allow the company to access data flowing over the networks it builds and maintains, giving China access to telecommunications networks around the world.

British intelligence officials, among others, have tried to find Huawei’s backdoors, but since these are a product of Western imagination, they have come up empty-handed. Despite their failure, however, they continue to claim that Huawei’s backdoors are damaging the United States, Britain and other countries.

However, none of them could do more than make baseless accusations that such backdoors “could” or “might” theoretically exist. Such paranoid accusations have cost at least a billion dollars each to the countries that have chosen to replace perfectly functional Huawei components with often inferior Western products.

Incidentally, Western products also have back doors that are open to Western intelligence services. Huawei itself had to replace up to 4,000 components for two billion dollars in a very short space of time in order to comply with Western sanctions.

What an efficient one-two punch. They inflicted enormous damage on Huawei, a world leader in digital communications technology, and nearly bankrupted the company, while at the same time ensuring that Huawei’s components were replaced with inferior Western ones.

A recent article in the left-leaning, reader-supported news website The Intercept said no Western intelligence agency had proven that Huawei devices had such backdoors or that the company had used them.

Now TikTok, the buzzword of the day, is facing a ban in the US because it is foreign-owned. TikTok has about 150 million users in the US, some of whom make a living from it. Threatening to ban TikTok would allow this proven new money-making medium to be sold to US buyers. Not surprisingly, several confidants of former US President Donald Trump, including former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, are flocking to the rich prey like vultures around a carcass.

On Thursday, however, a dozen social justice and racial equity groups expressed concern that the federal initiative to ban or sell TikTok could limit free speech within minority communities, arguing that such actions would disrupt an important platform that many rely on to build online connections and advocate for various causes.

The US-style democracy is truly astonishing. The motto here is “from each according to his needs, to each according to his greed.”

TikTok’s alleged threat to U.S. national security has morphed into an anti-China campaign, but official records tell a different story. U.S. intelligence has provided no evidence that the popular short-video hosting platform has ever collaborated with Chinese authorities. Yet that fact has not stopped many members of the U.S. Congress and even President Joe Biden from pushing for legislation that would force the sale of TikTok.

In interviews and congressional testimony about TikTok, senior officials at the FBI, CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have described TikTok’s threat to national security as purely hypothetical, arguing that they have access to much of the government’s most sensitive intelligence and are therefore in a unique position to know about it.

The basic allegation is that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, a Chinese company, could be forced by the Chinese government to use the platform for targeted operations to manipulate public opinion, collect data on U.S. citizens and even spy on individual users.

TikTok has categorically denied ever sharing U.S. user data with the Chinese government and stressed that the company would not do so even if requested.

Although senior U.S. security officials like to repeat allegations that the Chinese government controls TikTok, they dare not claim that the company has actually collaborated with the Chinese government.

Recently, Reuters reported that Donald Trump, as president, signed an intelligence order authorizing the CIA to use social media to influence and manipulate public opinion and views in China. Other secret U.S. cyber influence programs are known to exist, targeting Russia, Iran, other foreign actors, and terrorist groups.

In other words, you have to be careful of the USA.

The author is a senior fellow at the Center for China and Globalization. The views expressed do not reflect those of China Daily.

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