For all the media coverage of the dramas of the Middle East, the excitement of the American presidential race and the fragility of the euro, there is no single issue more important to the world than managing the rise of China. Inevitably, the emergence of a new, major power is perceived to be a challenge, even a threat, to the status quo powers, in particular the US.
The challenge for the Americans and their allies such as the EU and Australia is to manage the rise of China. This requires and will continue to require deft diplomacy. On the one hand, pursuing a policy of containment would be disastrous. To call China an enemy will make it an enemy. China is not the Soviet Union. It is not trying to change the world, to impose its political system on others or to drive America out of the Pacific.
China wants security within its borders, which it defines as including Tibet and Taiwan. It also wants to be able to keep its vital sea lanes open. And certainly, it and Taiwan maintain their historic claims to much of the South China Sea.
But, above all, Chinese leaders want to lift the living standards of their huge population. That is the national imperative. That's to the benefit of not just the Chinese but the world. The Chinese economy makes a major contribution to global gross domestic product growth. It's a lucrative market for the developed world and it's a source of competitively priced goods. And, increasingly, it's a source of science and technology.
It's into this environment that the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee has published a report on Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE, calling for them to be barred from all American government systems, banned from buying any American companies, and recommending all American telcos avoid purchasing any of their equipment.
The Economist magazine most aptly described the report in saying it "appears to have been written for vegetarians. There is not much meat in it."
The report was heavy with allegations but completely lacking any evidence. This is not a report that contributes constructively to managing that most important of bilateral relationships - the Sino-American relationship - in a mature and calm way. It treats China as a hostile power, as an enemy akin to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
As one of only three independent directors on Huawei's local board (the only local board anywhere among Huawei's 150 global offices), I would be very interested to see or hear any evidence of wrongdoing or risk posed by Huawei. The fact is I haven't, and the US congressional committee has failed to provide any in its report. It is merely supposition that Chinese companies in the telecommunications area are some sort of a threat to security.
I also would note that the accusations thrown at Huawei are changing. A few years ago it was that Huawei was a threat, but now the tone has changed to a claim it could become a threat, underlining the fact there is nothing more than allegation upon allegation with no facts or evidence.