5G technology will allow for three million connected devices per square mile, leading to a world which is more interconnected, with digital infrastructure permeating every facet of modern daily life. For reference, 4G can handle ten thousand connected devices per square mile. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has subsidized and nurtured its 5G industry in a concerted effort to become the world leader in this field. If it succeeds, its dominance of this emerging technology will allow it to set the pace for future technological developments, much in the same way that the U.S.’ dominance of internet controls has impacted the rise of the digital age.

The company and country that offers the best and cheapest 5G technology could potentially have access to untold amounts of data. If a Chinese telecom company builds and controls a nation’s 5G network, there is nothing stopping them from taking and examining the data of millions of citizens. Anything connected to an unsecured 5G network will be a potential weapon that can be used to gain influence and control. Chinese hardware inside of a country’s 5G network would be used to inform the CCP’s economic, political, and societal playbook.

As Huawei secures more contracts to build this technology for other countries, the Chinese state’s ability to gather information and spread influence will dramatically increase. In the United States, companies have struggled to keep up with Huawei, and are far behind when it comes to 5G technology. If the United States is to try and match the CCP’s 5G capabilities, there will need to be significant steps taken in the near future, after which it may be too late.