Events in two cities this past week might have changed 5G history
Updated 16:19, 11-Mar-2019
Liu Xin

This week, events unfolding in two Chinese cities could change 5G history. 

In Beijing, delegates from all over China are attending annual meetings to shape the country's future. In the southern city of Shenzhen, Chinese tech giant Huawei unveiled a lawsuit against the U.S. government for banning it from entering the U.S. market.

In delivering a draft government work report in Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang did not mention 5G. But analysts saw this word clearly written between the lines when he explained China's plan to exploit network technology to boost the economy and better service the people.

For the first time in history, journalists covering the event got a taste of trial 5G connections.

How about ordinary people? When asked about when China would issue the first commercial 5G license, Miao Wei, China's Minister of Industry and Information Technology told reporters on the sidelines of the event "Very soon." The head of a Chinese telecom research institute revealed 5G smartphones would hit the market later this year, before being widely used next year.

Also this week, in Shenzhen, at the headquarters of Huawei, six top executives declared live to the world that they have sued the U.S. government over the unconstitutionality of its legal ban on Huawei's equipment to enter the U.S. market.

"The U.S. has repeatedly failed to produce any evidence to support the ban," said Huawei's rotating chairman Guo Ping, "We are compelled to take this legal action as a proper and last resort."

So, while the Chinese government strives to be the frontrunner in 5G applications, the U.S. has yet to make up its mind about what to do with the best opportunity so far. What a drastic contrast. But what does it mean for both countries?

U.S. politicians, lawmakers, and media are going to have lengthy debates on the lawfulness of the ban. But technology won't wait. Nor will developers and users in China or elsewhere.

Huawei says its technology is months ahead of its competitors while being cheaper and simpler. As the clock ticks, such a lead could widen. Whether the U.S. government wins or loses the case against Huawei, they will have likely missed the first 5G train.

Is there a way out? Huawei has offered to cooperate with the U.S. government to dispel any security concerns. British intelligence authorities have reportedly concluded that any risks could be mitigated.

Has the U.S. government the will and open-mindedness to work with Huawei on the issue? We can only hope so.

Looking at what has happened in Beijing and Shenzhen this week, the window of opportunity appears to be open for Huawei and China but closing for the U.S.

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