As a way of protecting the integrity and online safety of data critical to national security, it is safe to say that the United States will never buy, let alone contemplate the purchase of, Chinese commercial cloud computing services. That being said, however, China appears to be bent on becoming the dominant player in the global cloud computing sector – but what are the implications of such dominance, and how does it affect the US and other nations?
In a recent interview, Jim Lewis, senior vice-president for the Strategic Technologies Program of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, pointed out that a number of factors show that China isn’t really in it for the money.
The Possibility of Espionage
Lewis pointed out that many Chinese vendors, including major consumer tech players like Huawei, hope to stay globally dominant and that cloud and 6G technologies are their best bets to ensure such dominance.
In this case, cloud computing is a major part of China’s formula for success when it comes to dominating global networks – but that also opens up the possibility of Chinese cloud computing technologies being used to spy on other nations.
American vendors operating in the United States or US territories are not likely to use Chinese technologies, but the fact that they need to connect with other nations – even those known to deploy Chinese-made tech in the cloud – means that the risk of espionage remains.
This poses some serious issues as cloud computing is becoming an important aspect of numerous digital services and nascent technologies, including artificial intelligence, robotics, and 5G networks. That said, very few Americans are comfortable with China becoming a dominant force in the sector.
Not a New Issue
Despite the fact that cloud computing only began to boom over the past few years, China’s dominance in the tech sector has been a major issue for nearly six years – and the fact that it aims to unseat the US in a number of fields makes many people uncomfortable.
While some Chinese firms are just in it for the profits, some companies – especially state-owned enterprises – have a more insidious motive tied up with cybersecurity. After all, those who control the cloud have a wider range of influence than those who simply use it and, consequently, have greater access to both public and private information.
China is also notorious for engaging in predatory trade practices which have been detrimental to firms in numerous countries.