Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Shangri-La Dialogue: Trust a big issue in debate over 5G networks

Shangri-La Dialogue: Trust a big issue in debate over 5G networks

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong takes part in a question-and-answer session after delivering his keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue on Friday. JASON QUAH/THE STRAITS TIMES

Shangri-La Dialogue: Trust a big issue in debate over 5G networks

The question of trust is a fundamental issue in the ongoing debate over the world’s next 5G networks, given the need for countries to have confidence in the security of the systems, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday.

Beyond technical considerations that Singapore is mulling over in its own decision, he said the lack of trust could lead to “grave consequences”, where countries end up developing their own systems and operating in separate worlds that are less safe and more unhappy.

At a question-and-answer session at the Shangri-La Dialogue on Friday, Lee was asked by a member of the audience whether Singapore would be using Huawei for its 5G network.

Last month, the US blacklisted Huawei – which it accuses of aiding Beijing in espionage – and restricted the company’s dealings with US companies.

On Friday, Lee said Singapore is in the process of selecting its 5G system and equipment, with the decisions to be made “in due course”.

He noted that apart from resilience and security, other factors to consider include performance, cost, reliability, growth potential and vendor diversity.

It is “quite unrealistic” to expect 100 per cent security from any telecommunications system, he said, and it does not matter whom the system is bought from, with every system having its own vulnerabilities.

But beyond the technical aspect, there is also the question of trust, which is the more fundamental issue, said Lee.

“I need to have trust in order to use the system. And if I suspect that you will abuse my trust, to compromise my systems, I will not be able to do business with you,” he said, describing it as a “very serious problem”.
But there are grave consequences when going down this road, he said.

“Because if I don’t trust your system, you are not going to trust my system, and then the chips … the software … the firmware, and then the whole supply chain. And then you are in your world and I am in my world,” he said.

“That is fundamentally a different kind of world from the one which we have been building in the last 30, 40 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

But the problem is a very difficult one to solve because, with anonymity on the internet, there is less incentive for people to behave themselves, said Lee.

He said in the long term, there is a need to establish rules, such that those responsible for bad behaviour can be named and shamed, leading to restraint.

“For immediate decisions on the 5G systems, I think each country will have to weigh the options, there are the uncertainties, and will have to make its own choice.”

In response to another question on what small countries can do to avoid taking sides, Lee said they should try their best to maintain relationships with the US and China.

“But to actively avoid taking sides actually also requires actively not being pressured to take sides,” he said, to chuckles in the audience.

“And unfortunately, when the lines start to get drawn, everybody asks: Are you my friend or not my friend? And that makes it difficult for the small countries.”

Answering another question – on what Chinese leaders can do to put other Asian countries at ease – Lee said it may be hard for “one big country to choose another big country as a role model”, but there were lessons to be gleaned from the US’ presence in Asia in the last seven decades.

He said the US has made many friends in the region with its breadth of spirit, generosity and honesty, creating an environment that has made it possible for even “those who are not quite so close” to grow and prosper and compete in peace. THE STRAITS TIMES (SINGAPORE)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

MOST VIEWED

  • Rainsy stopped in Paris from boarding Thai flight

    Airline officials at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursday prevented Sam Rainsy from boarding his flight to Bangkok ahead of his announced return to Cambodia on Saturday. Prime Minister Hun Sen had earlier in the day assured Phnom Penh residents that there would be

  • Analyst: Rainsy blocked from boarding flight 'an excuse'

    THAI Airways not allowing Sam Rainsy on its route from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday is being used as an excuse to keep his standing among fellow coup plotters and his uninformed supporters as flights to non-Asean countries are available, an analyst said on Friday.

  • Rainsy lands in Malaysia

    Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport on Saturday afternoon after boarding a flight from Paris, where he has been living for more than four years. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Saturday that Cambodia respected

  • Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

    Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped. “As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand

  • Touch: Rainsy will never return

    Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom. Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle

  • Prayut indicates no entry into Thailand for CNRP’s Rainsy

    Cambodian government officials on Wednesday welcomed the position of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha after he indicated that Sam Rainsy would not be allowed to return to Cambodia through Thailand. “According to our commitment to Asean, we will not interfere in each other’s internal