The U.S. government is ratcheting up pressure on Beijing’s 5G ambitions overseas, offering financial incentives and other enticements to countries willing to shun Chinese-made telecom gear.
U.S. foreign-affairs agencies are developing workshops and a handbook that would help policy makers in places like Central and Eastern Europe, and in developing countries elsewhere, to build next-generation 5G cellular networks that don’t use equipment from Huawei Technologies Co. and China’s ZTE Corp.
U.S. officials say they also plan to offer training to foreign politicians, regulators and academics overseeing the rollout of 5G networks in their respective countries in coming months and years. Leading the initiative is the Commerce Department’s Commercial Law Development Program, whose mission is to advance U.S. foreign policy by directly collaborating with foreign governments on technical and legal matters.
To help with training, U.S. officials say they are putting together a reference book that includes case studies of how American allies such as Britain have implemented restrictions on Chinese telecom equipment.
Over the weekend, the Group of Seven industrialized nations unveiled a new global infrastructure initiative called “Build Back Better World.” The Biden administration has positioned it as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road initiative, which has aimed Chinese investment at infrastructure projects around the world. While not part of the weekend G7 initiative, Washington’s new incentives for avoiding Chinese telecom purchases underscores the U.S.’s special focus on the telecom industry.