Disinformation that Huawei 5G Network is a threat to national security. Second of two parts. Part One is here. | LOUIS LANG
The U.S. is making the penetration of Huawei’s 5G network in the North American market an issue of the “danger of Chinese espionage which is a security threat for the whole world.” It is part of the fierce competition in the telecommunications field amongst the largest telecommunications companies, in which the U.S. seeks to maintain its dominance through its links with the oligopolies that are already directly linked to the U.S. military and security apparatus.
One would think that any advances in communications technology and the prospects of a high capacity 5G network capable of providing network speed to support computer-driven cars, remote surgery or other artificial intelligence applications would be a welcome development. But the U.S. response shows that for the U.S. National Security State this has become an existential issue.
An article in the scientific journal Nature dated June 15, 2017, titled “China’s Quantum Satellite Clears Major Hurdle on Way to Ultrasecure Communications,” announced the exciting news that China’s first quantum enabled satellite had achieved one of its most ambitious goals. The researchers’ report, also published in Science, explains that by beaming photons between the satellite and two distant ground stations, they have shown that particles can remain in a linked quantum state at a record-breaking distance of more than 1,200 kilometres. That phenomenon known as quantum entanglement could be used as the basis of a future secure quantum-communications network.
This is earth-shaking news for the functioning of a 5G network because it meets one of the network’s most important needs which is a completely secure data encryption system.
Another article in MIT Technology Review on January 30, 2018, titled “Chinese Satellite Uses Quantum Cryptography for Secure Videoconference Between Continents,” announced that the record for quantum cryptography over long distances has been broken by the Chinese experiment.
The article explains that, “Quantum cryptography allows communication that is guaranteed to be secure thanks to the laws of physics.” The main problem has been that quantum cryptography has not been possible for longer distances because the best optical fibres can carry photons only so far – around 200 km.
This has all changed with the Chinese satellite called Micius which was launched in 2016. One of the latest achievements of the satellite has been to set up the first intercontinental quantum cryptography service. The article explains: “Researchers have tested the system by setting up a secure video conference between Europe and China. For the first time, the security of this video conference was guaranteed by the laws of physics.”
The goal of the experiment was to set up a video conference between the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna.
The first step was to create a “key” which is a set of random numbers which can be used by both parties to encode or decode a message and to distribute this “key” securely to both locations. In order to achieve a secure transfer of the “key,” the satellite sent the random numbers encoded in a single photon to ground stations in Xingdong in China’s northern Hebei province and then sent the same key to a ground station in Graz, Austria. The teams used ground-based quantum communication over optical fibres to Beijing and Vienna to set up a secure video link.
This experiment took place in September 2017 and resulted in a pioneering videoconference that lasted for 75 minutes with a total data transmission of roughly two gigabytes.
The two teams jointly announced the great achievement: “We have demonstrated intercontinental quantum communication among multiple locations on Earth with a maximal separation of 7,600 kilometres.”
Of great significance in this technology pioneered by Chinese scientists is that quantum cryptography guarantees the security of 5G networks or any other network under its protection. Quantum information is inherently safer than classical information because it is protected by the fundamental laws of physics. Reading out classical information (that is random numbers generated by present computer technology) does nothing to change it but, according to quantum physics, the mere fact of observing a quantum system changes its quantum state. Through this effect, eavesdropping or hacking into quantum information can be detected. Hence quantum information can be made invulnerable to spying in ways that would be classically impossible.
In addition to China’s leading research in quantum encryption, Huawei itself is making headway in commercializing quantum encryption for use in existing telecommunications networks today. On June 14, 2018, Spanish telecom monopoly Telefónica announced that in conjunction with Huawei and the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), “a groundbreaking field trial” had been carried out, which it said was “the first one worldwide, demonstrating the application of quantum cryptography on commercial optical networks, and their operational integration by means of Software Defined Networking (SDN) technologies.”
It is not surprising then that many countries are interested in establishing their 5G networks based on Huawei’s advanced high speed technology. Combined with the security of quantum encryption these networks would be protected from any hacking or foreign espionage. It has been reported that Huawei currently has contracts to roll out its 5G technology in nearly 30 countries.
Germany, France and even Britain have recently declared that they do not consider Huawei to be a security risk and they have refused to ban any single manufacturer in their countries. The U.S. has responded by warning its allies that it could reconsider its military relationships with anyone who uses Huawei’s 5G infrastructure.
The U.S. bases itself on a standing accusation against Huawei and other Chinese enterprises. It claims that they are merely extensions of the Chinese state or the Chinese Communist Party, and therefore cannot be trusted. The claim is made that Huawei puts backdoors into its hardware, allowing the Chinese government to access foreign data. Huawei vehemently denies this.
The sabre-rattling regarding Huawei and its 5G technology is a vivid example of U.S. imperialism’s striving for world domination. It seeks to control artificial intelligence and other technological developments and, failing that, it seeks to destroy the human productive forces which give rise to them. Cyber warfare and attempts to impose laws on what can and cannot be done with modern technology become attempts to criminalize those who do not succumb to U.S. imperialist aims. Threats of war have become commonplace to deal with what the U.S. imperialists claim are security threats.
In actual fact, the new developments in 5G networks and the scientific advancements made by Chinese scientists in quantum encryption, are new forms of mass communications being brought forward by the social productive forces. Such developments are not the property of anyone.
This is the greatest significance of these new developments in the experiments in ultra-secure communications which are so important for the functioning of any high speed network. This technology does not belong to anyone. No single entity, whether a nation or corporation can control or monopolize it because it is based on the law of physics which can be applied universally.
No matter how much the U.S. imperialists want to portray the issue of 5G networks and Huawei as one of “espionage and the Chinese threat,” it is undeniable that these advances are further developments of the modern human productive forces as they bring into being entirely new hitherto unknown means of production. The industrial and technical revolution cannot be stopped with anyone’s claims of ownership and the aim to make private profit. The New which has emerged needs to be addressed politically so that new arrangements serve the modern human productive forces, not those who are creating havoc in their attempt to control them for themselves.
Even though the developments related to Google, Facebook, Huawei and 5G technology and the like are commonly talked about as a problem of the surveillance state, Big Brother, etc., in fact, these are the forms of mass communication being brought forward by the social productive powers today which belong to humankind. They are the face of the New, bringing forward that broad horizon Marx referred to which is yet to be organized. Today these huge developments of the human productive powers are being used to destroy the productive forces, with war as a main means to achieve this. But this can be turned around and it must be.
- “China’s Quantum Satellite Clears Major Hurdle on Way to Ultrasecure Communications,” Nature, June 15, 2017.
- “Chinese Satellite Uses Quantum Cryptography for Secure Videoconference Between Continents,” MIT Technology Review, January 30, 2018.
TML Weekly, March 23, 2019 – No. 10