U.S. Turns to Incentives to Persuade Countries to Skip Chinese Telecom Gear

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The U.S. government is offering incentives to allies and other countries to shun Chinese telecom equipment and services. 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, to build 5G networks that don’t use equipment from Huawei and ZTE, reports The Wall Street Journal.

U.S. officials plan to offer training to foreign politicians, regulators and academics overseeing the rollout of 5G networks in their respective countries. The Commerce Department’s Commercial Law Development Program is heading up this program. Its mission is to advance U.S. foreign policy by collaborating with foreign governments on technical and legal issues. The U.S. is putting together a reference book that includes case studies of how American allies have implemented restrictions on Chinese telecom gear.  

Over the weekend, the Group of Seven industrialized nations unveiled a new global infrastructure initiative called “Build Back Better World.” The G-7 countries are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and America.

The Biden administration sees it as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road initiative. That’s China’s program to build physical and digital infrastructure to connect hundreds of countries from Asia to the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Critics consider it Chinese President Xi Jinping’s foreign policy to expand his country’s global influence, according to MSNBC.

“This isn’t really intended to stop Belt and Road. But I think the G-7 is signaling that they want to offer an alternative,” said Matthew Goodman, senior vice president for economics at Washington D.C.-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies. Goodman told CNBC the G-7 could make a “significant contribution” in closing the world’s infrastructure gap by channeling investments into developing countries.  

The Chinese embassy in the U.K. said it firmly opposed the G-7 statement and was strongly dissatisfied. A spokesperson told Reuters: “The days when global decisions were dictated by a small group of countries are long gone.” 

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, notes the WSJ.

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