Biz / Tech

Politicizing 5G development a self-defeating attempt

Politicizing technological progress, 5G in particular, will backfire and hurt everyone.

Global heavyweights discussed a wide range of issues at the New Economy Forum, among which one topic won consensus: politicizing technological progress, 5G in particular, will backfire and hurt everyone.

At Friday's "4G to 5G" session, the moderator said 5G is supposed to be the connective tissue between all visions of the future, and then threw a question at the speakers: How did the "innocent technology" become so politicized?

As a powerful connector, the superfast wireless technology of 5G is expected to empower the global ICT sector, build a smart society and make communication easier and faster. Meanwhile, unlike previous generations of broadband cellular network technology, it creates one uniform standard shared across the globe that spares travelers the telecom inconvenience when visiting overseas.

5G technology, however, is being politicized. Some countries have banned the use of foreign 5G devices out of ulterior motives and unsubstantiated fear of national security risks, and are even lobbying others to join their club.

But such behaviors serve nobody in the long run. They will disrupt global industrial chains, undermine the innovation ecosystem and hurt consumers the most, depriving them of their right to enjoy fast and reliable telecom services.

The 5G industry is jointly developed and shared by different markets. In China, foreign enterprises, including Nokia, Ericsson, Qualcomm and Intel have been deeply involved in the experiment of the technologies and will further benefit from the market's growth.

No doubt, there will be competition in the race to develop the 5G industry as it possesses huge potential for transforming the economy and society. But technologies are technologies, and it should be left to the market to make the choice.

At the forum, former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson warned of the impact of a technology decoupling and called for interoperability to avoid "Balkanizing" the world. Micron Technology CEO Sanjay Mehrotra stressed the importance of supporting innovation in a free and fair manner across the globe. ZTE Chairman Li Zixue said an open and win-win mentality was needed for the tech revolution.

There are many selfish reasons to politicize 5G technology, but there is no good reason to block the world's shared opportunity to be better. Win-win results are achievable with open-mindedness and cooperation in the 5G era.

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