US officials are leaning on Egypt to avoid Chinese 5G technology, putting the nation in a delicate situation, balancing foreign relations with both super powers. Credit: Handout.

The 5G war over Egypt is in full swing.

It began when US State Department’s undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, Keith Krach, held a press conference in the elegant confines of the US embassy in Cairo.

According to a report in Al-Monitor, Krach echoed the Five Eyes intelligence analysis, issuing a dire warning against using Chinese companies to launch 5G networks.

The sky will indeed fall, said Krach — an extension of the CIA’s offensive targeting Chinese telecom giant Huawei — if Egypt dares to use China’s so-called “Trojan Horse” technology.

“They (Chinese companies) offer cheap to negligible prices, but in the long run, the cost will be exorbitant because it is a matter of data protection,” Krach claimed.

Using the proverbial brush to paint everything China bad, Krach further called on Egyptian companies to boycott Chinese firms, saying these companies are tools used by the Chinese government to steal and employ customer information for the benefit of Chinese security services, Al-Monitor reported.

He called on them to join a “clean network” that protects their data instead.

According to Krach, the clean network is a coalition of countries committed to securing their information from “malign actors,” such as the Chinese Communist Party.

He declared that the so-called “clean network coalition” includes more than 40 countries around the world and about 60 companies from communications and technology giants to securely obtain the 5G generation, Al-Monitor reported.

He neglected to add, of course, that most of those countries were bullied into their acquiescence.

Krach, or Five Eyes, for that matter, have never offered evidence-based proof to back up their claims regarding the security threat. Huawei, for its part, has staunchly denied the allegations.

Keep in mind, Five Eyes is the same group that spies regularly on all communications in the world — often breaking the law and lying about it, as it does so.

We know that because of the NSA revelations provided by (soon to be Russian) Edward Snowden.

Days later, China’s ambassador to Cairo, Liao Liqiang, fired back, accusing the US of establishing spying platforms and suppressing Chinese partners wishing to introduce the 5G technology.

“What the US side is calling for under the name of a ‘clean network’ can safely be called ‘a dirty network,’ ‘an eavesdropping network,’ ‘a monopoly network’ and ‘an ideological network,’” he said.

“In order to prevent Chinese companies from achieving a leading feature in the field of 5G, US politicians have resorted to every means possible to suppress such companies,” he added.

“Chinese-Egyptian cooperation is a matter restricted to China, and Egypt and does not require any US interference.”

China has been seeking rapprochement with the Egyptian government.

On September 3, Michael Lee, senior IT client services engineer at Huawei, met with Egypt’s Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker to discuss ways to gradually shift to a smart electricity grid system, Al-Monitor reported.

US State Department’s undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, Keith Krach, has warned Egypt not to use Chinese 5G technology. Credit: Handout.

On July 8, Liao said that Chinese aid to Egypt exceeded 100 million Egyptian pounds (US$6.3 million) and stressed that the Chinese government will provide another batch of aid to help women and children in Egypt fight the coronavirus.

On May 11, Tim Zou, CEO of the network sector at Huawei Egypt, said that the deployment of 5G communications technology will contribute to supporting the technological revolution the world is currently witnessing, Al-Monitor reported.

And on October 28, Lee said during a seminar organized by Huawei to discuss digital transformation in the world, “The company’s business in Egypt is a major axis for the company’s future business plans in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Huawei has a strong presence in Egypt and the company has a network service center in North Africa based in Cairo.

Passant Fahmy, an economics expert and a member of the parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee, told Al-Monitor that “the conflict between the two largest economic powers in the world (the United States and China) over developing 5G networks was not [on the] spur of the moment, as the US banned Huawei in the US, and there is a declared war between the two sides.

“However, this time around Egypt is now involved, as the two sides try to win it over given its unique location as a gateway to investment in Africa and the Middle East.”

On May 19, 2019, in an effort to limit the expansion of Chinese technology around the world, the Donald Trump administration announced the inclusion of Huawei and 70 of its subsidiaries on an “Entity List.”

This is a blacklist that prevents the Chinese entities from purchasing parts or components from US companies without obtaining approval from the US government.

Fahmy expects Egypt to try to maintain a good balance in its relations between the two countries in a bid to preserve its interests.

“The comparison is very difficult. Egypt has a good relationship with the US, and there is a great agreement between presidents [Abdel Fattah] al-Sisi and Trump. In the meantime, China has huge investments (in Egypt), and these have significantly increased over the past period, as China is investing in the administrative capital, among other areas,” she added.

The volume of Chinese direct investment with Egypt rose by 34.6% compared to last year, reaching $71.7 million, Al -Monitor reported.