Copy

Hi there,

Today in Signal, we'll mark an important new milestone in the US-China tech fight. We'll keep a wary eye on Hong Kong after a protestor was shot, ask who's running Peru, and brace for a another pivotal week for Brexit. Also: why we're ignoring the Ugandan fashion police.

Let us know what you think of Signal here, and please consider forwarding to a friend. Thanks for reading,

Kevin Allison (@kevinallison)
facebook twitter

Hi there,

Today in Signal, we'll mark an important new milestone in the US-China tech fight. We'll keep a wary eye on Hong Kong after a protestor was shot, ask who's running Peru, and brace for a another pivotal week for Brexit. Also: why we're ignoring the Ugandan fashion police.

Let us know what you think of Signal here, and please consider forwarding to a friend. Thanks for reading,

Kevin Allison (@kevinallison)
 

As China's leaders bask in the glow of the massive military parade and other festivities they held in Beijing on Tuesday to mark the People's Republic's 70th birthday, a quieter but potentially more significant test of China's global clout is playing out in the bustling tech hub of Shenzhen nearly 1,400 miles to the south.


Huawei, China's most important global tech company, has announced it is going to produce 5G equipment without any US components at all.

Recall that back in May, the Trump administration kneecapped the Chinese tech giant by restricting US companies from selling it software, microchips, and other vital components, because of concerns that Beijing could use Huawei equipment to spy on the US or its allies. It was part of a broader campaign to push back against China's rise as a technology powerhouse. The US has since added a Chinese supercomputer maker to its blacklist and is currently drawing up even tighter restrictions on US tech exports to China.

China's president, Xi Jinping, has responded to this US pressure by promising to break China's technology dependence on the US, evoking the spirit of the Chinese communists' heroic "Long March" of the 1930s. As part of that Huawei is now basically saying: "no US technology? No problem."

The stakes are huge. Huawei makes more smartphones than Apple, and outside of the US, where it's long been de-facto (and now officially) banned, it is the world's biggest supplier of the networking equipment that lets you scroll through social media, hail a car, and stream cat videos on your phone. The company is also leading the push to build ultra-fast, next-generation 5G networks that will power our sci-fi future: smart cities, remote surgery, driverless cars, and driverless cat videos.

If Huawei can't find a way around the US blockade (and there are good reasons to think it will have a hard time – not least due to the US's massive advantages in critical technologies like semiconductors), its days as a global company are numbered, and Xi's drive for tech independence will suffer a major blow.

If it can, then the competition between the US and China for supremacy in the technologies that will help drive the global economy, shape alliances, and determine the balance of military power in the 21st century will have entered a critical new phase.

 

 
 
 

Although there has recently been a small uptick in popular support for impeachment (especially among Republicans), it's still a deeply polarizing issue with no majority for or against. The Democrats are hoping that the investigations' findings will convince more of the public to support impeachment, making it easier for fence-sitting Representatives on both sides of the aisle to vote in favor. At the same time, the White House and most Republicans are banking that the continuing unpopularity of impeachment will mean the process turns into a political trainwreck for the Democrats as the 2020 election approaches. Here's a look at how popular sentiment on impeachment has evolved over the past year, and where things stand now.


 

 
 
 

Broadband is the electricity of the 21st century. Learn more about what can be done to close the broadband gap for 23 million Americans in rural areas in The New York Times Best Seller Tools and Weapons. This book by Microsoft President Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne looks at broadband, the impact of AI, the rise of cyberattacks and other urgent issues. Read about it here.


 

 
 
 

Bullets in Hong Kong — For the first time since Hong Kong's democracy protests began 4 months ago, a participant in the demonstrations has been shot with live ammunition. The severity of clashes between lightly armed protesters and the police has grown in recent months, but violence spiked sharply yesterday as tens of thousands of protesters marched in a "Day of Grief" meant to contrast with Beijing's lavish observance of the 70th anniversary of communist China's founding. Until now, the authorities in Hong Kong have used water cannons, truncheons, and tear gas rather than bullets, as the government weighed the risks of cracking down more forcefully. Now that lethal force has been used, we are watching to see if all sides step back from the brink, or dive over the edge into a much more serious confrontation. Can't lie: we're worried.


Who's running Peru? After Peruvian president Martin Vizcarra dissolved Congress yesterday in a last ditch bid to hold fresh elections, lawmakers refused to leave the building and instead appointed Vice President Mercedes Araoz as acting head of state. Vizcarra, who took office in 2018 when his predecessor resigned amid a sprawling graft scandal, has won popular support by tackling corruption. But his opponents, who control Congress, have blocked some of his anti-graft measures and resisted calls for fresh elections. Perhaps it's only a coincidence that the opposition leader is in jail facing corruption allegations of her own. The legality of Vizcarra's move -- which his opponents say is a coup that brings back bad memories of Peru's dictatorship -- will be settled by the courts. But Peru, one of South America's fastest growing economies, now has a more immediate problem: who runs the place? Vizcarra has the loyalty of the armed forces, but the standoff with Congress is unresolved and protesters are in the streets.

Boris Johnson's disappearing runway — The UK prime minister is preparing to unveil the country's latest formal proposal for a new Brexit deal on Wednesday, and it doesn't look promising. A leaked UK proposal for customs checks located away from the physical border between Ireland and Northern Ireland was promptly slapped down by leading Irish politicians as a "non-starter" after details emerged late on Monday. Johnson says the critics haven't got his plan quite right, but with time running out ahead of the 31 October deadline to leave the EU, there aren't many more opportunities left to find a solution that can a) deliver the Brexit Boris has promised, b) satisfy the EU and c) get through a skeptical Parliament. We may have a much clearer idea by the end of this week whether a deal is possible, whether Johnson will be forced to ask for another extension, or whether the Brexit plane is careening off the end of the tarmac with "no deal".

What We're Ignoring

Uganda's fashion police Ugandan civilians who sport a red beret are now risking life imprisonment, according to a new law that designates the hats as military-use only. It just so happens that the red beret is also the sartorial signature of pop star turned political hopeful Bobi Wine and those who support his bid to oust long-serving president Yoweri Museveni in 2021 elections. (Read Willis' profile of Wine here.) We are ignoring this one because Wine and his supporters are already doing the same. No word yet from French Marxists or 1980s New York vigilante icon Curtis Sliwa though...

 

 
 
 

10,000: A new report by the Syria Study Group, an expert panel appointed by the US Congress, warns that as many as 10,000 ISIS fighters are currently being held in shabby and overburdened pop-up prisons in the Northeastern part of the country. ISIS has lost its caliphate but the threat continues.


47: A fresh poll conducted by CNN shows that 47 percent of respondents say they favor impeachment of President Donald Trump. That's up from 41 percent in May, largely because Republican support for impeachment jumped 6 points to 14 percent.

$1000: Indonesia will now charge tourists $1,000 for a yearlong right to visit Komodo Island, home to the famous dragons of the same name. This plan to cut runaway tourism replaces an earlier, less lucrative proposal to close the island altogether. Popular but overcrowded destinations like Venice, the Taj Mahal, and Mount Everest are all struggling with "overtourism" amid a boom in cheap flights and a growing global middle class.

30: One of the stars of China's 70th anniversary military parade yesterday was the Dongfeng-41, an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the United States (or anywhere else within 9,000 miles) in just 30 minutes. China's military also showed off a new missile, the Dongfeng-17, which relies on a hard-to-detect hypersonic glider to deliver its lethal payload.

 

 
 

This edition of Signal was written by Kevin Allison and Alex Kliment. Spiritual counsel from Willis Sparks. Graphics magic by Gabriella Turrisi, and editorial support from Tyler Borchers.

 

Give a friend the Signal here. Or, if you’ve received Signal by mistake, you can unsubscribe here.