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Looking back at how the US  has used national security as a means to protect its domestic industries can provide a better understanding of the current predicament facing Huawei in the US, according to the CEO of the company behind the RISE conference that will take place in Hong Kong next week.

“I think history holds lots of lessons,” Paddy Cosgrave, CEO and co-founder of Web Summit told TechNode in a recent interview. “This hasn’t been the first time that the US has used national security as a basis for restricting foreign companies selling products into their economy.”

Back in the 1980s the US imposed huge tariffs on Japanese cars, Cosgrove said. The American government claimed that Japan was dumping cars into the US market and Japan was too heavily involved in these car companies.

“National security just tends to be the reason that’s given when countries have traditionally produced companies, countries outside of the United States that tend to out-innovate American companies in particular sectors.” Cosgrave said. Japan for example, started rapidly growing the business in other markets and were able to minimize the effect of being blocked from entering the United States back in the 1980s. He thought it was difficult to speculate what outcomes are going to be for Huawei and hopefully Huawei can find other markets they can grow.

Cosgrave also believes the history of innovation in different countries forms a fascinating pattern.

“Through the 20th century after World WarII, America started accusing Japan of doing nothing but copycatting American technology,” he said. “The Japanese were dismissed as being incapable of actually creating anything themselves and they didn’t possess a truly innovative culture much the same as Europeans is dismissed Americans. And in time Japan managed to become a truly Innovative country.”

In recent years, China has been dismissed by other countries as copycatting but Cosgrave believes the 250 years of history holds true and the country is already creating remarkable products and represents the future of tech.

Cosgrave is known for holding technology conferences all over the world. He described those conferences as “dating festivals” for people in tech. So far the company has conferences in Europe called Web Summit, in North America called Collision and in Asia called RISE. RISE will take place in Hong Kong from July 9 to 11 next week.

“It’s a serious business event, but it’s also a lot of fun as well,” he said. “And people are very open minded, very open to meeting people. It’s entirely global. I think that makes a really interesting melting pot by day and by night.”

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Shi Jiayi

Shi Jiayi is the Shanghai-based visual reporter helping provide multimedia elements about China’s fast-changing technology and culture. She holds a B.A. in Convergence Journalism from the University...

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