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U.S. needs to have more allies to bypass Huawei

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Michael Chertoff is co-founder of consulting firm Chertoff Group and formerly served as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Mike McConnell is vice chairman of Booz Allen Hamilton and formerly served as director of the National Security Agency.

On Wednesday, the FCC opened additional mid-band spectrum to support 5G mobile communications in the U.S., reducing reliance on short-range microwave spectrum that comes with high deployment costs. This move will help to ensure the U.S. doesn’t fall further behind other countries in the adoption of 5G, which is expected to spark $12 trillion in new economic activity by 2035, especially in enabling the internet of things.

Perhaps more importantly, this proposal demonstrates one way the U.S. can reinforce elements of what the government calls the “national technology and industrial base” (NTIB), the collection of companies who design, build and supply the U.S. with vital national-security related technologies. These technologies, which now include 5G wireless networks, increasingly underpin everything from the financial sector to the supply chains that deliver our food.

Government support for portions of the NTIB is nothing new. World War II prompted the government to foster the “defense industrial base,” ensuring that American forces had the tanks, aircraft and ships needed to win the war. The Defense Production Act formalized this system at the dawn of the Cold War, granting the President broad authorities to ensure a reliable, domestic supply of vital national security goods. While some defense goods have collateral, non-military uses, others, such as tanks and fighter jets, do not. When the military is the only customer for a good it must place regular orders, or offer other forms of support, in order to guarantee its continued supply.

Yet this system’s limitations are beginning to show. The rapid technological rise of China, and its intellectual property theft, have eroded America’s advantages, while globalization has made it prohibitively expensive to manufacture certain technologies in the U.S. For example, the government’s secure computer chip program has long faced challenges that have severely limited the number of trusted suppliers, driven up costs, and limited the availability of U.S.-made versions of some chips.

Similarly, the economies of scale required to bring advanced technologies to market limit the number of companies that can compete in any given segment. For example, while U.S. vendors still exist, just four companies — Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei and ZTE — account for two-thirds of the global telecommunications equipment market. Some market segments, such as 5G base stations, have no U.S. competitors. Worse, China’s Huawei focuses on low and mid-band base stations that increase their range and reduce costs, making them appealing to much of the world.

As such, we must reexamine how we think about the NTIB, expanding its scope beyond DoD and military operations technologies, and better leverage it to protect our cyber industrial base. Our entire society, not just the military, has become highly technologically dependent. Citizens rely on the same GPS systems, 5G base stations and cloud server technologies used by the military. These technologies power Netflix, the electrical grid, Waze, nuclear submarines and the global financial system. Such dual-use technologies are just as, if not more, important to our national security as any tank, aircraft or ship.

In this environment we must bolster our ability to protect the cyber industrial base of the U.S. and our allies. Fortunately, some pieces for such a move are already in place. Congress has already allowed the Defense Production Act to include dual-use technologies and for coordination with Canada, the U.K., and Australia on securing and protecting our shared industrial bases. However, we must do more.

First, support for our cyber industrial base must grow — the government must take an active role in the roll-out of vital technologies.

In the case of 5G, the U.S. should follow the lead of other countries, freeing vital spectrum and easing the deployment of new base stations. The U.S. must also go further to support key suppliers, either American or allied. In some instances this may require the U.S. government to purchase a certain volume of a technology to ensure the viability of the supplier, as the military does today for naval vessels, or for the government to invest in a key factory, as the Army has at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Ohio.

Second, we must expand our cooperation beyond four allies. Key technology companies, such as Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia and Siemens, are based in other allied countries, such as Sweden, South Korea, Finland and Germany. The U.S. can benefit greatly from enhanced coordination with its allies, leveraging their innovations to address our own technological and manufacturing gaps. Coordination can come in varying forms, including multi-lateral purchase arrangements, like those for the F-35, or by purchasing 5G technologies from Sweden’s Ericsson rather than China’s Huawei.

Now is the time for the U.S. to expand its work to safeguard and grow our cyber industrial base. In an environment of rapid technological change and globalization it is imperative that we take the actions necessary to ensure we continue to have access to secure forms of the advanced technologies that underlie both our economy and military. Without such action we could end up with little choice but to buy from the likes of Huawei — and be forced to accept the security risks that come with it.

Follow @CNBCtech on Twitter for the latest tech industry news.

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Hong Kong protesters, police face off in renewed clashes

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Protesters in Hong Kong threw gasoline bombs and police fired tear gas Saturday in renewed clashes over anti-government grievances.

Reporters saw at least one person arrested after violence erupted following an afternoon march by several thousand people in Tuen Mun, a district in the northwest of the Chinese territory.

Hong Kong is in the fourth month of sometimes violent protests that occur every weekend. They started with opposition to a proposed extradition law and have expanded to include demands for greater democracy.

Most protesters in Tuen Mun were peaceful but some threw gasoline bombs and bricks toward police who faced them down the street. They appeared to fall short of the police and there was no indication anyone was hit.

In the evening, protesters gathered at a shopping mall in another district, Yuen Long. Some threw gasoline bombs in the street. A government statement said some were thrown toward police vehicles, endangering the officers inside, but gave no indication anyone was injured.

In both areas, police with riot helmets and shields responded by firing tear gas.

Elsewhere, scuffles were reported as government supporters heeded a call by a pro-Beijing member of the Hong Kong legislature to tear down protest posters at subway stations.

The events are an embarrassment for China’s Communist Party ahead of Oct. 1 celebrations of its 70th anniversary in power. Hong Kong’s government has canceled a fireworks display that day, citing concern for public safety.

The protesters in Tuen Mun marched about 2 kilometers (1 1/2 miles) from a playground to a government office building. Many were dressed in black and carried umbrellas, a symbol of their movement.

Protesters chanted, “Reclaim Hong Kong!” and “Revolution of our times!”

Most were peaceful but some took down a Chinese flag from a pole outside a government office and set fire to it. Protesters also set up barricades to block traffic.

A government statement said protesters caused unspecified damage to the Tuen Mun light rail station and threw objects onto the tracks.

An organizer quoted by government broadcaster RTHK criticized police for sending armed anti-riot officers.

That will “only escalate tension between protesters and police,” the organizer, Michael Mo, was quoted as saying.

Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, has agreed to withdraw the extradition bill. But protesters are pressing other demands, including an independent investigation of complaints about police violence during earlier demonstrations.

Protesters complain Beijing and Lam’s government are eroding the “high degree of autonomy” and Western-style civil liberties promised to the former British colony when it was returned to China in 1997.

The protests have begun to weigh on Hong Kong’s economy, which already was slowing due to cooling global consumer demand. The Hong Kong airport said passenger traffic fell in August. Business is off at hotels and retailers.

Police refused permission for Saturday’s march but an appeal tribunal agreed to allow a two-hour event.

Protesters in Tuen Mun also complained about a group of women from mainland China who sing in a local park. Residents say they are too loud and accuse some of asking for money or engaging in prostitution.

Those complaints prompted a similar march in July, highlighting tension between Hong Kong residents and migrants from mainland China.

Later Saturday, protesters gathered at a mall in Yuen Long, where men with sticks beat protesters and subway passengers there on July 21 in an incident that caused controversy in Hong Kong.

Some protesters threw gasoline bombs on the street outside the Yoho Mall but there was no indication anyone was injured. Others started small fires in the street.

Also Saturday, there were brief scuffles as government supporters tore down protest posters at several subway stops, according to RTHK, the government broadcaster.

That campaign was initiated by a pro-Beijing member of Hong Kong’s legislature, Junius Ho.

Near the subway station in the Tsuen Wan neighborhood, a woman who was tearing down posters threw a bag at a reporter and a man shoved a cameraman, RTHK reported. It said there was pushing and shoving between the two sides at stations in Yuen Long and Lok Fu.

Ho made an appearance in the Shau Kei Wan neighborhood but residents shouted at him and told him to leave, RTHK said.

Ho initially called for protest signs to be torn down in all 18 of Hong Kong’s districts but he said Friday that would be reduced to clearing up trash from streets due to “safety concerns.”

On Wednesday, the Hong Kong Jockey Club canceled a horse race after some protesters suggested targeting the club because a horse owned by Ho was due to run.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong airport announced restrictions on access Sunday following what it said were calls to disrupt traffic there.

The airport train from downtown will skip Kowloon and other stops en route, the Airport Authority said. Only passengers with valid tickets and travel documents will be allowed into the airport.

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French police break up ‘yellow vest’ and ‘black bloc’ protests in Paris

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A banner is displayed during a protest urging authorities to take emergency measures against climate change, in Paris, France, September 21, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Charles Platiau | Reuters

French police fired tear gas and made over a hundred arrests in Paris on Saturday as they dispersed “yellow vest” protesters attempting unauthorized rallies and black-masked demonstrators who disrupted a climate march.

Police had made 137 arrests in Paris by mid-afternoon and had pushed back around one hundred protesters who gathered on the Champs-Elysees shopping avenue, the Paris police prefecture said.

The government deployed a massive police presence as it feared yellow-vest supporters and other activists, including “black bloc” anarchists, would take advantage of authorized protests over climate change and pension reform.

Some 7,500 police were mobilized, several districts including the Champs-Elysees were made out-of-bounds for protests, and over 30 metro stations closed.

A woman gestures as she attends a protest urging authorities to take emergency measures against climate change, in Paris, France, September 21, 2019.

Charles Platiau | Reuters

The climate rally saw sporadic confrontations between police and masked demonstrators who had infiltrated the march.

Groups wearing black clothing associated with the so-called black bloc anarchist movement formed barricades, set fire to bins and a motorbike, and threw paint over the front of a bank.

Similar skirmishes occurred later in the march with the prefecture again attributing violence to black blocs. Police responded with tear gas.

The violence tarnished an otherwise peaceful march that brought thousands of people, including some yellow vests, onto the streets, a day after marches in Paris and other cities worldwide to demand government action against climate change.

Riot police officers stand next to a burning barricade during a protest urging authorities to take emergency measures against climate change, in Paris, France, September 21, 2019.

Demonstrators carried slogans like “End oil now” and “End of the world” while some held carnival effigies, including one of President Emmanuel Macron wearing a crown marked “King of bla-bla”.

The yellow vests, named after motorists’ high-visibility jackets, were holding a 45th consecutive Saturday of action. The movement emerged late last year, triggered by fuel tax rises and swelling into a revolt against Macron’s style of government.

Some of their protests have been marked by rioting, partly blamed on black blocs.

A separate march on Saturday was called by the FO trade union to contest the government’s planned overhaul of France’s retirement system. The proposed reform prompted a strike by metro workers on Sept. 13, shutting most of the underground network.

Police officers look on during a demonstration on Act 45 (the 45th consecutive national protest on Saturday) of the yellow vests movement in Paris, France, September 21, 2019.

Pascal Rossignol | Reuters

The authorities have also been taking precautions so protesters do not disrupt an annual heritage event this weekend that gives the public special access to many historic sites.

Some sites like the Arc de Triomphe monument have been closed while others like the Elysee presidential palace have required visitors to register in advance.

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Iran’s warnings to Saudi Arabia are ridiculous, Saudi’s Al-Jubeir says

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Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir attends a press event with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department on January 12, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Zach Gibson | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Iran’s recent warnings to Saudi Arabia are “ridiculous” and “laughable” Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir told CNBC amid ongoing investigations by the kingdom tying Iran to a major attack on its oil facilities.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in an interview Friday that he hoped to avoid conflict, but that Iran was prepared for “all-out war” in the event of attack by Saudi or U.S. forces. He then questioned whether Saudi Arabia was ready to fight “to the last American soldier.”

“This is not the first time Iran’s foreign minister has said something ridiculous and frankly laughable,” he told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble in Riyadh on Saturday.

His comments come amid a state of heightened tension between Saudi Arabia, Iran and the U.S. following drone and missile attacks on two Saudi oil facilities a week ago. The attacks, claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, shut down half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.

Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have suggested that Iran had a role in, or was responsible for, the attack on Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil facility. Iran has denied the accusations, calling them “meaningless” and “pointless.”

Asked about next steps, the minister asserted that Saudi Arabia was responsible for its own defenses ⁠— which were criticized as having failed to effectively counter the drone and missile attacks ⁠— but stressed the international community’s role in reigning in what he called Iran’s aggressive behavior.

“It is our responsibility to protect our borders, our people, our infrastructure ⁠— but the world also has responsibility to make sure Iran isn’t allowed to get away with murder, to ensure freedom of navigation in the Gulf and Arabian Sea so global energy supply isn’t disrupted,” he said.

Engagement with Iran, like the efforts of Germany and France in launching a trade mechanism that would bypass U.S. sanctions, is nothing more than appeasement and will only condone the country’s behavior, al-Jubeir added.

“If you think being lax with Iran will make it behave better, that hasn’t happened in 40 years and won’t happen,” he said. “The idea that Iran can be offered loans we believe is appeasement. Anytime anybody has appeased Iran in the last 40 years, Iran has used that to cause mischief.”

Iran defends its testing and development of ballistic missiles as self-defense. Earlier this year the Donald Trump administration designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, accusing it of destabilizing activity across the Middle East and supporting militant groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have stopped short of any retaliatory action against Iran, although on Friday the Pentagon announced that it will deploy additional U.S. troops and missile defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Al-Jubeir said the strikes represented attacks not just on Saudi Arabia but on the entire international community.

Extensive repair work is underway on the two damaged oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco’s Chief Executive Amin Nasser has reportedly told employees of the state oil giant that the company had emerged from attacks on its oil facilities “stronger than ever” and added that full oil production would resume by the end of this month.

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