Proxy Innovation

World powers have a penchant for proxy wars. French involvement in the Revolutionary War, anyone? Little has changed a century and a half later. We still see this going on today in Syria, to name just one recent example. We also see this going on today in the fifth domain — cyberspace — with the rise of the Chinese firm Huawei. Although some experts argue that the Communist Party does not control it, recent Justice Department actions paint a different picture, and those who would know believe that the Party does. Regardless of that speculation, though, none argue that the company owes its fantastic success — at least in part — to the tremendous support of the Chinese government. Those ties have caused the United States’ government to array itself against Huawei, which will likely translate into direct support for its competitors.

Here we see yet another example of a proxy war, except this time in a whole new domain. China used Huawei to assert its dominance over a technology that Keith Johnson and Elias Groll described as “the central nervous system of the 21st-century economy”; the United States will likely attempt — in a much less subtle way — to win out with a company of its own choosing. And so the proxy wars will continue.