Bloomberg Businessweek
Cold War US China Image Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek
Cold War US China Image Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek

Our Next ‘Cold War' Won't Look Much Like The Old One

In an ever-more-interconnected world, traditional alliances are rarely absolute enough for a digital iron curtain.

Marc Champion

If the world is indeed headed for a Cold War 2.0 that splits the globe into U.S. and Chinese technological zones, the new “digital iron curtain” that separates them may well have to run through the heart of this bland industrial park in Oxfordshire, just off the M40 highway from London to Birmingham. On one side of the park looms a gleaming Amazon.com Inc. warehouse. Across the street is the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre, a modest brick building that’s unremarkable but for the one-way glass that obscures its windows, the CCTV cameras that bristle from its walls, and the oversize air- conditioning units lined up outside to cool the servers within.

Partly on the strength of the work at the center, whose 38 security inspectors are paid by Huawei Technologies Co. but subjected to the same vetting required for U.K. intelligence officers, the government has made a preliminary decision to let the Chinese tech giant build noncore elements of Britain’s sensitive 5G infrastructure, soon expected to connect everything from driverless cars to refrigerators. That would defy intense U.S. pressure to exclude Huawei from allied 5G networks. The decision isn’t final, but when a U.S. ally as close as Britain is this reluctant to take sides in a dispute between the world’s two economic and technological super powers, it suggests that any cold war to come is likely to bear little resemblance to the last.

For one thing, Winston Churchil


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