Clean Network Results

Keith Krach 08.13.2020

China softens as US announces Clean Network | WeChat and TikTok’s infiltration overseas

From China Observer/Vision Times, see this fascinating report on China’s reaction to U.S. initiative to establish its Clean Network.

On August 5th, the U.S. announced that they will be blocking CCP influence in five areas on what they refer to as a Clean Network for the U.S. That means the U.S. will block the CCP at five areas: carriers, stores, apps, cloud storage and cables. Among the targets are China’s Alibaba, Biadu and Tencent, which offer downloadable apps, in U.S. mobile app stores. According to a statement from the U.S. State Department, more than 30 countries have already joined the US’s net cleaning campaign. And many of the world’s largest telecommunications companies have been cleared as clean telcos, pledging to use only trusted carriers on their clean networks.

The CCP uses Internet censorship in mainland China to restrict citizens’ direct access to the majority of the international Internet, and social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are banned. Several China experts have compared the US’s net cleaning campaign to China’s firewall, suggesting that the U.S. action is an attempt to create a technological iron curtain outside of China’s firewall and to completely exclude China’s high tech industries from the future international digital economy.

On August six, President Donald Trump signed two executive orders barring any person or business in the U.S. from doing business with TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, as well as WeChat and its parent company, Tencent, in an effort to eliminate threats from the CCP in the information and communications technology supply chain.

Both orders will take effect in 45 days. It’s unclear whether the ban will require U.S. companies to sever ties with WeChat. But the executive order says that after 45 days, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross shall determine the scope of the prohibited transactions. The move stunned all sectors of the Chinese community, including top Communist Party officials, tech companies and ordinary Chinese people. Shares of Tencent, WeChat’s parent company, plunged 10 percent the day after the news was announced in a report. Morgan Stanley said that China’s tech, hardware and semiconductor industry is hit the most. More than 30 percent of the revenue of the 11 listed Chinese companies in this industry comes from the United States. Among them, Raytheon, listed in Hong Kong, has 46 percent of its revenue coming from the U.S.. On August 7th, Yang Jiechi, the director of the office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, published an article in the Xinhua news agency entitled Steadfastly Maintaining and Stabilizing China-U.S. Relations. The full text of which exceeded 6,300 words. Most of the article recalled 41 years of Sino-U.S. friendship and claimed the door to dialog and communication between China and the U.S. is always open. Moreover, China’s online propagandists, commonly called 50 Cent army, were recently ordered to stop making anti-U.S. comments, and they were asked to change the theme of the propaganda to win-win for China and the U.S. For this past week, voices against the U.S., both on Twitter and on Chinese social media platforms like WeChat, suddenly disappeared. Why has the Chinese Communist Party suddenly softened to the U.S.? Radio Free Asia reported on August 7th that American China expert Pei Minxin said on the Aspen Security Forum that, "Sources tell me that Xi Jingping himself was shocked two years ago by the sharp turnaround in the U.S.-China relations."

It could be the CCP’s lack of anticipation of the U.S. strategic shift, resulting in the lack of readiness to react. Analysts say this kind of softness is not genuine and that letting the other side drop its guard will buy time for the CCP to develop a strategy. In fact, not many were surprised by what happened to TikTok. On August 6, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to pass Trump’s executive order banning federal employees from using TikTok on public devices. And the House of Representatives passed a similar bill last month.

Elmer Yuen, a Hong Kong based entrepreneur and businessman, who is rumored to have close ties to senior officials in the Communist Party, said on August 7th that at a meeting with senior Chinese officials last year, the officials said that democracy, freedom and the rule of law that Hong Kong’s young people are seeking are not realistic. And they believe that China has a market of one point four billion people and an entire supply chain that the U.S. is unlikely to give up. They believe that foreign countries do business with China for the sole purpose of money, and they are motivated only by profit.

But Yuen believes that for now, the CCP has overestimated itself and underestimated the United States. The current U.S. operation is just the beginning. And there are bigger and more systematic plans to follow.