News & Politics

The Tech Race with China Is Getting Real

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands at Mar-a-Lago, Friday, April 7, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

I have written extensively on how China is trying to defeat the U.S. military through operationalizing outer space. However, China doesn’t just want to become an aerospace superpower; it wants to become a technology superpower.

The United States spends more on its military than any other country. Although China is in second place, it still lags behind the U.S. by $400 billion. And so, knowing that it can’t beat the U.S. through traditional means, it is now trying to do so more circuitously through the operationalization of all new forms of technology.

Case in point: the 5G race with the United States. China recognizes the significant first-mover advantage that will come with being the first to operationalize this new wireless technology. The People’s Republic is still bitter over its loss in the 4G war, which brought people from being able to read articles on their phones to streaming movies. As a result, it is now doing everything it can to win the 5G race, which will mean life or death for artificial intelligence and other significant military tools of the future.

As things currently stand, China is winning. It rolled out its 5G networks nationwide on Nov. 1, and 5G is already available in over 50 cities. Meanwhile, in the United States, there is only AT&T’s 5GE, which is actually slower than 4G and won’t support high-level U.S. military affairs. In fact, the United States still doesn’t have a single domestic manufacturer of 5G equipment or the needed infrastructure to become even remotely competitive. If U.S. decision-makers do nothing, China and its multinationals’ telecoms equipment – which are filled with hidden backdoors that will allow the communist regime to become privy to everything Americans are doing – will become the standard.

The Trump administration took quick, decisive action to address China’s concerning advancements in the space race – advances which caused Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast to remark that “China is on a 10-year journey to operationalize space” while the U.S. is on what appears to be an unacceptable 50-year trajectory of leaving space. It created the Space Force as a fifth branch of the U.S. military to help contain the country’s tech advances and fend off its aggression. The Space Force got off the ground quickly and just submitted its first budget request on February 12. Soon, it will begin doing everything necessary to protect the U.S. in low earth orbit. Now, the question becomes will the Trump administration do the same thing with the country’s 5G deficiencies?

Thanks to the work of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, as of now, the prospect looks promising.

On February 6, Pai revealed the details of a plan for an auction of coveted spectrum, known as the C-Band. In simple terms, spectrum is the invisible radio frequencies that power broadcast, audio, cellphones, and other devices. It is important for a lot of things, and while there are a number of different bands that are capable of servicing most of them, the C-Band is the only one with the right frequencies to power 5G.

Recognizing this, Pai set the terms for a C-Band auction to repurpose the space for 5G in the U.S. Understanding that time is of the essence in beating China, he included accelerated relocation payments to current occupants of the C-Band as a condition to keep everyone happy and prevent the process from becoming tied up in court.

This was a wise move. As former FCC attorney Adam Candeub pointed out, when the FCC doesn’t pay fair market rates, litigation sometimes ensues for a decade or more. Candeub said that, if Pai did not do this with respect to 5G, he “would expect more of this type of litigation which would hold up the process for several years.” And with China, we can’t afford to wait that long. The country is already ready to deploy 400,000 more 5G bases and is already experimenting with 6G.

The FCC will vote on Pai’s proposal on February 28. Thus far, the Trump administration has done everything necessary to keep Americans safe from China’s predatory tech ambitions. Here’s hoping it does so with 5G as well.