1) Tech – Whoever Builds The 5G Platform First Sets The Standards And Thus The Rules Of The Game: Published in 2015, the same year the PRC State Council laid out the “Made in China 2025” Plan (MIC2025) under which China would become a global powerhouse in ten high-tech fields from artificial intelligence (AI) to aviation, the novel “Ghost Fleet” depicts a possible global conflict scenario in which the United States (and by extension its allies) are defeated in large part due to the use of PRC-made components in its weapons systems that render them subject to enemy control and thus useless in wartime. While the novel depicted an update to the time-honored theme of the Trojan Horse in making the reader wary of accepting gifts from strangers, it did not anticipate the challenge now presented by the technology shift from 4G to 5G communications networks. In April 2019, the Defense Innovation Board, an advisory board of tech sector leaders to the U.S. Department of Defense, issued a report warning that the PRC is on track to pull off a “first-mover advantage” in the competition to dominate 5G mobile telecommunications. Note that 5G promises to revolutionize existing industries and invent entire new industries with data speeds of approximately 20x those of 4G. In the state-controlled economy that is the PRC, the primary competitor here is Huawei, the company that has become a focal point in the current U.S.-China trade war as the current U.S. administration is lobbying allies aggressively to keep Huawei equipment from being installed in their countries’ telecommunications infrastructure. However, “In public and private statements, American intelligence officials and telecommunications executives and experts have begun to concede that the United States will be operating in a world where Huawei and other Chinese telecom companies most likely control 40 to 60 percent of the networks over which businesses, diplomats, spies and citizens do business.” With the prospect of a PRC 5G “first-mover” advantage, the U.S. will be operating in a world where it is not setting the standards, a world where networks are possibly subject to PRC state control and thus compromised, or “dirty networks.”
2) Tech – China Needs To Push Hard To Establish Regional Hegemony As Demographics Work Against It: While the rapacious nature of PRC-led misappropriation of technology intellectual property is well-known as the country seeks to attain its MIC2025 goals, one perhaps under-appreciated factor prompting the PRC’s need for speed is that fact that its demographic profile is in many ways reminiscent of that Japan faced in the 1980s in which the country was clearly seen to face a rapid increase in its elderly population, something that has clearly occurred. According to researcher China Power, the percentage of Chinese above the retirement age is expected to reach 39 percent of the population by 2050. At that time, China’s dependency ratio (the number of people below 15 and above 65 divided by the total working population) is projected to increase to 69.7 percent, up from 36.6 percent in 2015. Add to this negative development the PRC’s gender imbalance in which the country has 70mm more men than women and we are left with the sense that the PRC has internal pressures to establish dominance regionally while it has a demographic “window of opportunity,” something that raises the odds of conflict intensifying over the next 5-10 years.
3) Tech – A War By Any Other Name Is Still Conflict All The Same As PRC Conducts An Unchecked Cyber War: Apologies to Shakespeare, but one may say that all is fair in love and war and so it is in the ongoing and unceasing cyberwar that the PRC is waging against the US and its allies. Granted the PRC is far from alone in this new front of global conflict, but it is among the most persistent and the most pernicious of state actors seeking to penetrate critical infrastructure and to steal intellectual property so as to further its ambitions under MIC2025. While cyberwar is a silent war, it is war nonetheless and there should be no illusions otherwise.
At Laidlaw, our top priority is to deliver consistent and superior service to our clients and their families. Given the fast-moving developments related to COVID-19, we have been closely monitoring the reports and recommendations from the Center for Disease Control as well as other governmental agencies and health care professionals to determine how these developments might impact our operations and commitments to our clients.
At the same time, we are taking precautions to protect the health and safety of our team and their families. Fortunately, we already operate from multiple locations thus already affording us a great degree of “social distancing” as a result. Also, our infrastructure is designed to give our employees connectivity to the firm and seamless communications with their colleagues, clients and constituents regardless of where they may be located. We have tested these systems and are monitoring them for full compliance with our business continuity plans which, at their core, allow for a distributed workforce.
To protect our team, we have directed employees in any of the high-risk groups to remain in their homes and to work remotely. In addition, we are accommodating employees to work from home who have child-care needs caused by interruptions to schools and day care services. As a further precaution, many other employees are currently working remotely. We are ever mindful about how best to support their work and service to you and will continue to monitor the locations where we operate as well as take directions from our local, state and federal officials regarding further restrictions and guidelines for our business and the people who serve you. The good news during this time is that our business continuity procedures and technological architecture are designed to allow our team to operate remotely. As we progress through this crisis, we may indeed need to work 100% remotely. These extraordinary steps are likely as we work with the rest of our country to curtail the spread of the virus while upholding our commitments to all involved.
On behalf of our entire team, we want to thank you for your understanding and support during this challenging time. Most importantly, we want to support you and wish you, and your families and friends good health as we progress through this national emergency together. Your concerns are our concerns. Please keep us appraised of any needs you have that our team can help to meet. We will post updates to our status on our Laidlaw homepage at https://laidlawltd.com
With warm regards,
Richard J. Calhoun, Jr.
Chief Executive Officer
Laidlaw Wealth Management
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