Cyber wars, a prelude to world war
Sunday, June 2, 2019 at 10:02AM

Google’s move to cut off Huawei phones from access to the company’s software is a stark reminder to capitalists worldwide and a blunt message to the rising Chinese ruling class: U.S. imperialism will be ruthless in defending its global profits. Google’s signing on to U.S. efforts to beat back the projection of Chinese power intensifies the pressure on European and other capitalist rulers to choose sides in the escalating cyberwar between the two superpowers. Neutrality—for companies as well as countries—will be difficult, if not impossible. But workers must choose our own side, the side of the international working class. As World War III gets closer, we must be prepared to turn imperialist war into class war for communist revolution.
High technology: spy vs. spy
U.S. President Donald Trump’s assault on Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, is an attempt to block the Chinese bosses’ “digital silk road.” Chinese advances in global high technology, the centerpiece of the country’s “Made in China 2025” industrial policy, work hand-in-glove with its Belt and Road Initiative to gain political power through infrastructure projects and economic thievery around the world. Hauwei was born to spread Chinese power globally. It was founded in 1987 by a former officer of the People’s Liberation Army (, 12/18/18). Just as AT&T and Verizon are arms of U.S. imperialism, Huawei is an arm of Chinese imperialism.  
Currently China is leading the world in building infrastructure for the future 5G wireless network technology. The implications for the U.S. bosses are terrifying: A recent joint statement by several senior American military leaders noted that Chinese-led 5G infrastructure provides Beijing opportunities for forced data collection and could potentially compromise the integrity of future U.S. military operations. Moreover, they warned that this would give China’s fascist government the ability to clandestinely collect private information from billions of people and use that data for coercion (, 5/21).
Of course, these U.S. fascists are hoping that everyone forgets about Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. Their revelations exposed the global expansion of spying by U.S. telecommunication firms on behalf of the U.S. National Security Agency.
China and U.S. vie for allies
In both Latin America and Europe, U.S. warnings of future Chinese spying have largely fallen on deaf ears. Huawei phones make up only 7 percent of the Latin American market, as compared to 25 percent in Europe (New York Times, 5/25). Besides, Latin American governments and workers have lived with U.S. spying for decades. Hamilton Mourão, the Brazilian vice president, gives voice to the predominant ruling class view: “China wants our products; we need trains, ports, and highways that facilitate the transport of these products”(Foreign Affairs, May 2019).  
In Europe, meanwhile, close NATO allies like Germany and Britain are resisting U.S. appeals to ban Huawei from their own 5G projects. U.S. intelligence officials are conceding that Huawei and other Chinese telecom companies will “most likely control 40 to 60 percent of the networks over which businesses, diplomats, spies and citizens do business” (NYT, 5/28).
The bosses are pitching 5G technology as a big improvement in our quality of life, from faster movie downloads to revolutionary medical breakthroughs via augmented and virtual reality. They claim that 5G will tie together the “internet of things,” from autonomous cars to security cameras and industrial equipment (NYT, 5/25).  
But we should remember that the primary reason the bosses are building this infrastructure is for “national security”—in other words, for internal surveillance and repression to enhance military readiness. Any “benefits” for workers will take a back seat to the needs of the capitalists’ war machine and their move toward full-blown fascism.
Trade wars push patriotism
As the superpowers’ trade war intensifies, the U.S. rulers’ use of state power seems clumsy next to China’s state capitalists, who are more efficient in disciplining and unifying their own class—an essential element of fascism. The current impasse between Trump and Congress threatens to paralyze the U.S. government’s ability to implement new policy, at least in the short term. In a fast-moving world situation, this is highly unfavorable for the U.S. ruling class. Throw in Trump’s ally-smashing style, and U.S. imperialism may be isolated as it falls from its brief perch atop the profit system’s global pecking order.
U.S. workers have come to rely on cheap goods from both China and the U.S. to offset some of the rampant income inequality that concentrates obscene wealth within the tiny ruling class. But as Trump imposes more tariffs and China retaliates, prices will continue to rise. Both sets of rulers will need to win many millions of workers to the idea that it is our “patriotic duty” to sacrifice and pay higher prices for “Made in the USA” and “Made in China” products. The extra dollars and yuan to flow through the bosses’ respective treasuries will ultimately finance the cost of mass slaughter, as the trade war erupts into a shooting war.
Confronting China
All U.S. rulers grasp the need to keep a critical mass of war industry physical plants on the North American continent.  But in recent years, a number of U.S. manufacturers, including critical sectors like aerospace (warplanes) and trucks (tanks), have come to rely on cheap steel and electronic components from China. Sooner than later, a non-Chinese supply chain will be needed.
Though the immediate outcome of this latest trade war is unclear, the rising stakes are unmistakable.  Thomas Friedman, in-house cheerleader for U.S. imperialism at the New York Times, declares: “We could look the other way when trade was just about toys and solar panels, but when it’s about F-35s and 5G telecommunications, that’s not smart” (NYT 5/23). While Trump’s style is chaotic, it puts important needs of the main wing of the U.S. ruling class, the finance capitalists, front and center.  
In the U.S., the capitalist bosses—whether Republicans or Democrats—have yet to win masses of workers to the patriotic fervor needed for a serious inter-imperialist confrontation.  Chinese President Xi Jinping is in the same boat. In both countries, individualism and consumerism reign supreme. To the extent that the Trump-Xi trade clash represents the start of an effort to politicize consumers with anti-Chinese or anti-American sentiment, it is a significant building block for wider war.
In 2020 and beyond, – fight for communism
As capitalism heads toward world war history teaches us that the working class is the only force that can change this course of mass devastation. In the coming period, the bosses will undoubtedly attack every section of society to prepare for war. Communists must be positioned in growing mass movements, from fights for national healthcare and reproductive rights to teacher strikes and struggles against racist police murders. As we sharpen the class struggle, we must extend our work into basic industry.
PLP’s aim is to build a mass base of class-conscious workers who can be won to international communist revolution. As workers reject nationalism and reformism, they will come to understand that if you leave one wolf alive, the sheep will never be safe. Only then will humanity emerge from the threat of capitalist-inflicted annihilation and advance into a future where the world’s working class is free from exploitation.

Article originally appeared on The Revolutionary Communist Progressive Labor Party (
See website for complete article licensing information.