US proposes a five-part "Clean Network" plan that could lead to a "splinternet"

nanoguy

Posts: 557   +8
Staff member
Why it matters: Amid increasing trade tensions between China and the US, the Trump administration is looking to step up its efforts to drive Chinese tech companies out of everything from telecom infrastructure to consumer-facing apps and services. It's not clear how these plans will materialize, but if they do, they could lead to the splintering of the open and free Internet.

The Trump administration has unveiled a five-part plan to remove the presence of Chinese tech companies from the American Internet. Dubbed "Clean Network," the program aims to disrupt Chinese espionage efforts and prevent any censorship decisions being made at the whim of the Chinese government.

According to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the new program is an expansion of the White House's 5G Clean Path initiative that was announced earlier this year and targeted Chinese telecom equipment providers like Huawei, Hikvision, Hytera, and ZTE.

Clean Network would extend that same attitude towards "untrusted applications from US mobile app stores." One obvious example is TikTok, which is now facing an outright ban unless Microsoft can buy the entirety of its global operations. Pompeo told CNBC that "with parent companies based in China, apps like TikTok and WeChat and others are significant threats to personal data of American citizens, not to mention tools for Chinese Communist Party content censorship."

Of course, that ignores the fact that companies like Facebook and Twitter have suffered severe data breaches in the past, the most recent of which facilitated a Bitcoin scam. Ironically, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg -- who is known for his strong opposition to adopting Chinese values on big online platforms -- reportedly told his employees this week that banning an app like TikTok would set a "really bad long-term precedent."

Additionally, US officials want to prevent Chinese phone manufacturers from pre-installing or offering trusted apps made by American companies in China. This is mostly a reaction to Huawei's alternative app store called AppGallery, which has apps from companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Snap but is missing countless other apps that are popular in the US.

In another stroke of irony, American companies like Google and Facebook have had a hard time penetrating the Chinese market, and have mostly ceded it to local companies like Tencent, Baidu, and Sina Weibo. To make matters more confusing, Facebook recently discontinued a standalone TikTok clone called Lasso and started a global rollout of another called Reels, which will reside inside the Instagram app.

Another focus area of the Clean Network program would be to safeguard American cloud services and intellectual property. On the IP side, the Trump administration is looking to remove the opportunities along the supply chain where Chinese companies can steal American trade secrets. This has already manifested through cutting Huawei's access to TSMC's foundry and briefly suspending shipments of Intel server equipment to China's largest server maker.

On the cloud side, Chinese companies like Tencent, Baidu, and Alibaba would be prevented from collecting, storing, or processing the data of US users. It could also press American companies like Apple to offer detailed explanations of their relationships with the Chinese government, which hasn't worked very well in the recent past.

The fifth component of the Clean Network program is "Clean Cable," which would involve close scrutiny of undersea cables and the ability of Chinese authorities to use them for intelligence gathering. Even cables backed by American companies like Facebook and Google would be subject to the same treatment, as shown through the DOJ and FCC's recommendation to pause work on an 8,000-mile Internet cable between the US and Hong Kong.

There are reasons to believe that the "Great Firewall" proposed by the Trump administration is unlikely to become a reality, especially since it ignores the technical aspects of how the Internet works. Furthermore, around 70 countries across several continents already have infrastructure deals with China that are difficult to throw off the window overnight.

If, by any chance, the Clean Network initiative ever achieves its goals, we'd be left with a "splinternet," which at first would look like a US-controlled Internet co-existing with a China-controlled Internet. Other countries like Russia have also dreamed of a "sovereign Internet," which could lead to a gradual fracturing of the free Internet that was supposed to transcend national borders.

Ultimately, a politically-motivated move such as this could backfire against American companies and US consumers. A great majority of the gadgets we use are assembled in China, and it will be a while before some of them can be produce at the same scale in other countries like India. And, as pointed out by Telegram CEO Pavel Durov in a post discussing the pending TikTok ban, more countries could soon start using the pretext of "national security" to fracture US tech companies.

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,277   +3,076
This is all basically about containing China without having to go to war to do it...but the more they do this kind of stuff, the more likely a war there will be.

I am in a world traveler. I have lived in China and I spend a lot of time in different parts of Asia and south east Asia as well as Africa. I personally do not think that China can be contained at this point - especially by America.

Aside from the fact that America’s economy is smoke and mirrors where the Dow Jones represents a handful of companies with trillions of dollars while the bulk of all stocks is far less in value, America is in no position to dictate terms to anyone.


Wherever you go in Asia or Southeast Asia you see the influence of China specifically through trade and manufactured goods. China’s low-cost manufacturing has been allowing other countries to enjoy the quality of life that their own production does not justify. America is suspect number one.

China allows countries to unlock the potential of their mineral wealth in ways that America does not. China has done more to build infrastructure in exchange for exploiting the resources of Africa then America could ever dream of. The same will be true for South America. America has sanctions on Cuba, Venezuela, Haiti and Bolivia when we really should be working with those people -regardless of their leader ship -to do the same but Americas sanctions them. China allows countries to unlock the potential of their mineral wealth in ways that America does not.

China has done more to build infrastructure in exchange for exploiting the resources of Africa then America could ever dream of.

The same will be true for South America.
 
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Buhaj47

Posts: 90   +122
China has done more to build infrastructure in exchange for exploiting the resources of Africa then America could ever dream of.
It's rarely discussed in media that China has secured a vast part of African and South American rare-earth metals used to produce e.g. lithium batteries. The US and Europe are a bit late to the party.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,277   +3,076
It's rarely discussed in media that China has secured a vast part of African and South American rare-earth metals used to produce e.g. lithium batteries. The US and Europe are a bit late to the party.

the US and Europe's idea of "development" is exploiting the natives and mistreating them based on race.

China doesn't care about their race. They specifically focus on the capitalistic goal of exploiting the resources, but, in their defense, they leave the place better than they found it.

Africa has gotten electric lines, sewers/plumbing and "infrastructure" from their partnerships with China.

Europe created Apartheid and they built only for Whites while forcing segregation or straight forward used genocide (Leopold II).

America has purposefully crippled Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia in order to control oil, lithium and other resources.

In the long run, I see China being the world leader. America is at war with itself.

America can't even pass a stimulus bill because they are so abhorred of the idea of $600 a week going to poor people - while simultaneously making corporations wealthier with the lion's share of the stimulus (2 Trillion to corporations vs. just 300 Billion for stimulus checks.

China has improved the way of life of countless people while America picks sides in wars and brings war and death to everyone's doorsteps.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,360   +5,767
It is unfortunate that the developers of the internet didn't have the foresight to see the potential issues that could develop and build in controls and firewalls that allow each nation to manage accessibility to their systems. Of course, in the beginning the internet was intended to be for information only, free of any commercial endeavors or access to sensitive information. It's certainly not impossible to develop such an internet now days BUT the task would be enormous and it is doubtful it could ever be fielded in such a way that prying eyes and hackers could not obtain and alter it.
 
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pit1209

Posts: 129   +174
Yep and that's how we do it, USA won't be too far from being what they hate the most if things keep going as it is.
 

seeprime

Posts: 489   +520
I am in a world traveler. I have lived in China and I spend a lot of time in different parts of Asia and south east Asia as well as Africa. I personally do not think that China can be contained at this point - especially by America.

Aside from the fact that America’s economy is smoke and mirrors where the Dow Jones represents a handful of companies with trillions of dollars while the bulk of all stocks is far less in value, America is in no position to dictate terms to anyone.


Wherever you go in Asia or Southeast Asia you see the influence of China specifically through trade and manufactured goods. China’s low-cost manufacturing has been allowing other countries to enjoy the quality of life that their own production does not justify. America is suspect number one.

China allows countries to unlock the potential of their mineral wealth in ways that America does not. China has done more to build infrastructure in exchange for exploiting the resources of Africa then America could ever dream of. The same will be true for South America. America has sanctions on Cuba, Venezuela, Haiti and Bolivia when we really should be working with those people regardless of their leader ship to do the same but Americas sections on the China allows countries to unlock the potential of their mineral wealth in ways that America does not.

China has done more to build infrastructure in exchange for exploiting the resources of Africa then America could ever dream of.

The same will be true for South America.
The way you describe China in Africa sounds a whole lot like European colonies back in the day.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,277   +3,076
It is unfortunate that the developers of the internet didn't have the foresight to see the potential issues that could develop and build in controls and firewalls that allow each nation to manage accessibility to their systems. Of course, in the beginning the internet was intended to be for information only, free of any commercial endeavors or access to sensitive information. It's certainly not impossible to develop such an internet now days BUT the task would be enormous and it is doubtful it could ever be fielded in such a way that prying eyes and hackers could not obtain and alter it.
the internet is a "network of networks".

It would probably be quite difficult to manage, maintain and secure so many computers across so many networks when you're simultaneously dealing with people who want to exploit those networks, people who allow the networks to degrade and people who want to take advantage of them without helping maintain or secure them.

And then you add government into them and it all goes to Hell.
 
The way you describe China in Africa sounds a whole lot like European colonies back in the day.
Maybe, maybe not, but China doesn't have the whole load of baggage compared to the west.

There is significant anti China sentiment among the populace but anything made by the west is "premium" even though it's all made in China, they have gradually made themselves the premier trade partner. Of course, Trump doesn't help and unlike comparable democracies, the whole lot of rigging during elections means that what the populace thinks does not always go.
 

candle_86

Posts: 513   +381
This is all basically about containing China without having to go to war to do it...but the more they do this kind of stuff, the more likely a war there will be.
War with China would be over fast. They don't have a surface fleet capable of deploying their military, they'd have to instead invade India or Russia both are suicide for China. China can be contained and their economy crippled very fast by a blockade in the Indian Ocean, and because China lacks a true blue water navy they couldn't do anything about it.
 

PEnnn

Posts: 430   +364
So, the US wants an internet where US government spy agencies like the NSA and Google, Facebook and other US companies to have unlimited access to users' data!

Nobody told us yet what would the Chinese do (assuming it's true) with the trillions of American users BS texts, lame dance videos and other irrelevant drivel users send each other over the internet!!

How about encouraging / requiring US companies to secure their communications and networks instead, if they're worried about corporate espionage!! but I guess that doesn't sound macho enough for the clueless Trumpist base.
 

Endymio

Posts: 284   +162
I personally do not think that China can be contained at this point...
So your advice is that we simply give up, and allow an authoritarian government to steal trillions of dollars of our intellectual property, invade our private government and corporate networks at will, decimate our high-tech industries, militarily oppress neighbors like Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia; and unilaterally annex and restrict access to millions of square miles of the open seas?

Sounds like good advice! It worked for Tibet and the Uighurs.
 

Endymio

Posts: 284   +162
War with China would be over fast. They don't have a surface fleet capable of deploying their military
That was true ten years ago. No longer today. The PLAN now has the world's largest navy, exceeding even the United States. (up nearly 300% in the last decade alone). True, they are a bit light on aircraft carriers (2 now, 2 more under construction) and amphibious assault ships, but that also is changing fast. At present, China already has the ability to dominate any adversary in the South or East China Seas, or throughout the western Pacific. In 5 years time, China will be capable of projecting superpower-status force anywhere in the world.
 
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candle_86

Posts: 513   +381
That was true ten years ago. No longer today. The PLAN now has the world's largest navy, exceeding even the United States. (up nearly 300% in the last decade alone). True, they are a bit light on aircraft carriers (2 now, 2 more under construction) and amphibious assault ships, but that also is changing fast. At present, China already has the ability to dominate any adversary in the South or East China Seas, or throughout the western Pacific. In 5 years time, China will be capable of projecting superpower-status force anywhere in the world.
Not true their Navy is untested and they lack a nuclear submarine force. Though if we allow China to continue to build up it's naval power they will pose a threat to global stability. The smart move would be economic sanctions and a full blockade of China while sending the Virgina and Seawolf class ships into Chinese territorial water and sink their naval forces, though so far no one is willing. The Chinese navy is mainly composed of patrol craft that can not operate away from the mainland. One of our destroyers is equal to 2 of theirs in capability and our naval doctrine is tested. China's Navy has no combat experience and has yet to wage any war, and they are still developing Carrier tactics.

Right now we still have naval supremacy and are fully capable of crippling China. One move that should be made before China's navy and air force catch up is a full deployment of nuclear armed short range ballistic missiles into Tiawan to ensure their survival. Japan is already looking into allowing America to position Nuclear weapons on mainland Japan aswell because China is viewed as the greatest threat to freedom the world has seen since Nazi Germany. It's time we force the PRC back and possibly assist the ROC with reclaiming the mainland. The Chinese people would greatly benefit from Democracy. Right now China is forcing anyone that does not worship the state or that recognizes any God as greater than Xi into forced labor and re-eduction camps. It should be the morale duty of the free world to begin suppressing China and to begin arming pro Western groups within China.
 

Endymio

Posts: 284   +162
their Navy is untested...
Untested does not mean ineffective. And in the context of large-scale operations against a symmetric foe, the US Navy is almost equally untested. Their stand-off missions in Afghanistan and Iraq hardly count. China conducts large-scale exercises, and so do we. Whose models are the more effective?

... and they lack a nuclear submarine force.
They have a substantive submarine fleet capable of launching both nuclear ICBMS and tactical weapons. It is true that the majority of their submarine fleet uses diesel-electric propulsion (though they do have a small contingent of nuclear-propelled subs), however these subs are as quiet or quieter than nuclear versions, and in the context of carrier-group escort and local ASW operations, equally effective.

....and they are still developing Carrier tactics.
Very true. However, they are developing tactics for 21st-century conflicts. Our carrier tactics are largely based on what we learned from WWII and the Cold War, and it is unclear how appropriate those doctrines are.