Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wrongly Equating Europe & The US with the World

One of my longtime pet peeves in Western media is the tendency to conflate sentiment amongst elites in Western Europe and the United States with world opinion. This sad tradition continues in a recent Economist article on Chinese-based telecom corporation Huawei, misleadingly titled "The Company That Spooked The World". The article could more accurately be called "The Company That Spooked A Few Elites In the U.S. and the U.K.".

Sources on the record as being "spooked" (although none of them chose that characterization) include Steven Bellovin of Columbia University (who only admits that telecom technology can be used for spying, not that Huawei is in fact doing so), two Microsoft executives (Scott Charney and Eric Werner, who call for more secure supply chains globally, again not singling out or accusing Huawei), and Ross Anderson of Cambridge University, who admits that banning telecom technology from China is non-feasible as a security strategy and (again!) does not accuse Huawei of espionage or, well, anything. Four named sources, none of whom are actually spooked about Huawei, and all four from two countries total, hardly comprise a "spooked world" as regards Huawei. The article also goes on to mention that "In Africa, Huawei is everywhere" (making the typical Western media faux pas of lumping that huge continent together* without specifying in which countries on that massive continent Huawei products are deployed). Unsurprisingly, the author of this piece does not bother to interview one African national about whether or not he (or she) feels "spooked" about Huawei. The world, according to The Economist, is only comprised of two countries. Imperialist outlooks die hard.

* In fairness, the article also lumps together Europe when discussing Huawei's 4G network efforts in that continent, although Europe's more compact nature and shared currency throughout the majority of the countries therein militates more in favor of a generic "Europe" designation when discussing matters such as telecom networks, which are frequently shared throughout that relatively tiny continent. By contrast, the vastness of continental Africa necessitates a much broader telecom environment, e.g. what happens from a network perspective in South Africa rarely relates to the connectivity in, say, Morocco.

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