10 May 2021
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Huawei calls for closer public-private sector action to restore trust in technology

By Ryan Morris-Reade

Huawei is calling for better collaboration between the public and private sectors in a bid to restore trust in technology. 

Speaking at the annual St. Gallen Symposium, Huawei’s senior vice president Catherine Chen says only a common set of rules can guarantee a level of security that creates trust in technology.

“As more devices feature connectivity, more services go online, and more critical infrastructures rely on real-time data exchanges, so must governments worldwide ensure that everyone is protected by the highest security standards,” she says.

The symposium, an annual gathering of current and future leaders from across the globe, celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.

During the event, participants took part in the three-day dialogue from multiple locations, the University of St. Gallen campus in Singapore, ten Swiss embassies around the world, and online. 

This year the event began on May 5th, having been delayed due to COVID-19. Chen spoke to the student-led initiative Thursday morning on May 7th. 

Other speakers from the private sector include Roche board of directors chairman, Christophe Franz, Daimler chairman of the board of management, Ola Källenius, Microsoft chief executive officer, Satya Nadella, and HCL Corporation’s chief executive officer, Roshni Nadar Malhotra.

The theme for this year's symposium was Trust Matters and participants, including political leaders such as Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, gathered to discuss this and how it might apply to politics, business, and new technology.

Chen says this is a topic Huawei is committed to, and she believes this will require the joint efforts of policymakers, regulators, and the private sector. 

There was a general agreement between participants that trust is inherently built on openness and transparency and that it is time to take strong, actionable steps to address common challenges and risks that have emerged in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

They agreed that public trust in political and economic institutions, emerging technologies, and the media, has recently been eroded, especially among the younger generations, and this has been exacerbated by the pandemic. 

“We, as members of the younger generation, are connected to a greater number of people through social media, but this does not correspond to a circle of people we can trust,” says student Simon Zulliger, a member of the 35 student team from the University of St. Gallen that organised this year's symposium. 

According to Zulliger, finding ways to preserve and strengthen trust is critical for a sustainable recovery. 

Chen says she hopes the next generation of leaders will build trust and shape a world of pervasive connectivity. 

“I urge them to continue developing positive relationships between communities, individuals, and their environments,” she says.

“We must build strong trust in technology, enabled by a common set of rules, innovations, and progress. Only then can we commit to the sustainable and trustworthy use of technology.”

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