US squeeze on China’s apps, digital infrastructure could upend global internet, analysts say

US squeeze on China’s apps, digital infrastructure could upend global internet, analysts say

  • The US government’s ‘Clean Network’ programme aims to restrict the international expansion of Chinese apps, cloud services and undersea cable networks
  • It could deal another blow to China’s tech sector amid the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic and protracted trade war with the US

The Trump administration’s “Clean Network” programme threatens to further disrupt China’s technology industry, as the campaign seeks to restrict the international expansion of Chinese apps, cloud services and undersea cable networks.US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday made sweeping remarks that – “to keep Americans’ data safe from untrusted vendors” – he will aim to remove Chinese-owned apps in the market as well as cut off links with China’s digital infrastructure.

The initiative, which the State Department said includes the commitment of more than 30 countries and territories, is likely to escalate the complex tech war between the world’s two largest economies, according to analysts.

“The negative effect of this programme is that it’s becoming harder to see a truly global vision of the internet and access without borders surviving this tech war,” said Paul Haswell, a partner who advises technology companies at international law firm Pinsent Masons. “It would seem that the object of the campaign is to remove Chinese technology from all aspects of US data transmission and processes. We’ll have to see if that is even possible in practice.”

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