Wherever Huawei goes in the developing world these days is a pretty good barometer for where the Chinese Communist Party is setting up stakes for primetime information-gathering.
Most of these announcements signaling Huawei’s growing presence seem entirely banal, such as a cooperation agreement this week between Huawei and Libya’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. This particular agreement will see Huawei ICT Academy develop a digital knowledge program and information and communication technology skills”.
But they are anything but banal. Ongoing battles between Washington and Beijing over the true nature of Huawei were not simply part of a diplomatic dispute over trade; nor is anyone else really unclear about the fact that Huawei is a Communist Party intelligence-gathering instrument. Nonetheless, countries across the Middle East and North Africa are happy to welcome the Chinese intelligence crew in through the back door (Huawei), which comes along with a lot of money for big projects.
While Western nations, Russia, the Turks, and their Middle Eastern allies loudly flock around Libya, trying to stake claims and side with the right horse ahead of planned December 24th elections, the Chinese are strategically quiet. They make no diplomatic noise, and it doesn’t get messy, which is exactly why their strategy has long-term staying power. The same is true in Syria and Afghanistan.