As hardware vs software in various vertical domains, if BU puts PGII into a "software-oriented" infrastructure plan, then it has some built-in fundamental flaws in the context of BRI vis-a-vis developing countries.
So in G20, the G7 countries + EU came out with this new program to counter BRI called Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII). It seems like Western countries are just obsessed about copying China's moves without even understanding why they are made. There are clearly objectives to the BRI which is to re-orient commerce, trading and global supply chain through China. That's why the heavy emphasis on physical infrastructure that is now being replicated in digital infrastructure.
Anytime that I read an initiative that is full of woke ideology, I just don't understand the point. The rest of the world wants food to eat and low energy cost and improvement in livelihood. They are not looking for promises based on vague stuff like
"strong regulatory, social, environmental, transparency and accountability standards."
A lot of the projects under BRI don't make sense stand alone. They only sort of work due to China's low cost of building things. And more importantly, it's done to provide more local market for Chinese products and for accessing natural resources. Building other countries' infrastructure doesn't make sense without your own industrial policy.
(1) A common misconception in the west, particularly in the high-tech industries, is that every company wants to claim that it is a software company, because Wall Street values software companies much high in multiples than hardware companies. As a 30-year high-tech veteran traversing from the hardware side to the software side, I see this as lack of hardware capability. Software runs on hardware. Without Intel ISA and high-speed NICs in 10G/40G/100G, there would not have been cloud services. Without roads, ports, airports, railway, hospitals, there would not be meaningful modern services (a.k.a. "software") per se.
(2) China has demonstrated in the part 30 years that public hardware infrastructure is a prerequisite to advance the underlining economy and lift real-income levels for the public mass.
(3) It takes more human capital to master and maintain "software infrastructure", which cost is usually backend loaded in that, the initial cost is relatively small vs on-going maintenance and upgrade. Majority of developing companies are lack of local human capital and education institutions to sustain. As a result, it will be those initiating countries that will eventually suck input capital out of those "software" projects, and leave receiving countries very little to hold in the long run.
(4) "Software" projects are hard to see and touch and audit. Historically, many projects of this kind end up flowing into the pockets of "consultants" and "leaders". But hardware projects are the opposite. Nobody can cut and slice and put into anyone's pocket.
(5) Public hardware infrastructure literally serves public mass by default. Cost and regulation to use them is widely published and accessible to the mass. This cannot be said to all kinds of "software" infrastructure projects.
(6) The most urgently needed software public infrastructure to most developing countries is telecommunications in general and mobile phones in particular. Guess who is the leading country in this vertical domain?