The latest move by US government attempts to cut Chinese companies out of the US networks

Yesterday, the US State Department announced the creation of the ‘Clean Network’ initiative, a plan devised to help protect US networks from high-risk Chinese companies that may be compromised by the Chinese government.
Announcing the plan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the programme will have five facets: Clean Carrier, Clean Apps, Clean Store, Clean Cloud, and Clean Cable.

In brief:
    • Clean Carrier will mean that no Chinese telecom carriers are connected to US networks. As part of this process, Pompeo urged the Federal Communications Commission to revoke the licences of China Telecom and other Chinese operators doing business in the US.
    • Cleans Store will mean that untrusted Chinese apps are removed from US app stores. 
    • Clean Apps will mean that some US apps will no longer be available on smartphones manufactured by Chinese vendors.
    • Clean Cloud will limit the amount of US data Chinese cloud providers can store and process.
    • Clean Cable will mean that US submarine cable networks will be scrutinised to ensure they are free of Chinese influence.
This umbrella strategy is not entirely unprecedented; back in April, the US government first introduced its 5G Clean Path strategy, whereby untrusted IT vendors would be entirely excluded from State Department systems. Though far greater in scale, this Clean Networks strategy is a clear continuation of this previous policy. 
This announcement comes at a time when tensions over the Chinese app TikTok are at their peak. Given the apps surging popularity, the US government has stoked fears that US citizens’ data may be being shared with the Chinese government, leading to discussions about banning the app altogether via an Executive Order. In the last few days, however, tensions have begun to soothe as a result of Microsoft entering negotiations to purchase the app, which would circumvent sanctions the government is threatening to impose.
Naturally, this Clean Network plan has been poorly received in China, with the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi describing it as attempting to draw an “iron curtain” around the US; a little ironic, given China’s infamous Great Firewall. Economic retaliation seems likely, though exactly how is unclear – Apple and Tesla, as some of the few US companies who hold significant business interests in China, would appear to be the obvious targets.
If this policy does become enacted at scale, the digital divide between China and the US will grow considerably, with Pompeo hoping to push allied countries to take a similar stance.
"The United States calls on our allies and partners in government and industry around the world to join the growing tide to secure our data from the CCP’s surveillance state and other malign entities," he said. "Building a Clean fortress around our citizens’ data will ensure all of our nations’ security."
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