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“A digital iron curtain is falling on the world”

The latest smartphones from the Chinese brand Huawei, the “Mate 30” and the “Mate 30 Pro”, presented in Munich (southern Germany) on 19 September. CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP

Losses and profits. Our colleague is formal: “We tested the Huawei Mate 30 Pro: it is unusable. “ Pity. Introduced in September and put on sale in early December, the flagship smartphone of China's mobile phone champion is a jewel of technology. But it is the first of its kind to completely do without Google.

Placed at the top of its black list by the United States, the company will no longer be able to use any American technology in the future. The last of the firm wipes the plasters. Not easy to cut the cord with the Google Android operating system that drives the device and hosts applications developed by computer scientists around the world. An entire ecosystem to reinvent.

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Learning autonomy is therefore laborious. But the direction is given and will not vary any more. In the face of Washington's intransigence, Huawei must “de-Americanize” all his equipment. And not only software, but also thousands of components, the most important, such as chips, are of American origin.

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No more laughing. Huawei's adventure is only a small flambé compared to the global explosion that is getting ready. It is now the entire Chinese electronics industry that is asked by the government to free itself from its American capitalist enemy, as in the good old days of the cold war.

The Financial Times thus revealed, Monday, December 9, that the authorities of Beijing had given two years to all companies and state administrations to do without computer science made in the USA. Either tens of millions of computers and software to replace manu militari: 30% in 2020, 50% in 2021 and the rest in 2022. Unimaginable just five years ago, given the global hegemony of Americans in this domain.

The construction site is considerable and is based on the Chinese Internet, which has already been totally sinister. Beijing's response to Washington's hostility is going to have far-reaching consequences for a critical industry for the United States that relies entirely on Asian suppliers. Google, HP, Dell, Microsoft will be excluded from the world's largest market. The entire value chain of global electronics will have to be rethought, and with it, all global trade. The digital iron curtain is falling at full speed. With a big unknown: where will it go in Europe?

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