Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker and the 2nd biggest smartphone vendor in the world (according to IDC), is feeling the heat of the US-imposed trade ban. The company has been implicated in dangerous activities and accused of spying on other nations through its telecommunications technology. Once poised to become the world leader in smartphones, Huawei has suffered a significant setback—one that may put its very existence at risk.
What pushed the US to implement the blockade, and how has the Chinese tech titan addressed the ban so far? Let us explore this high impact face-off.
Dissecting the Huawei Crackdown
As early as July 6, 2018, China and the US have been involved in a tariff trade war. Under the supervision of US President Donald Trump, America slapped tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese products and has threatened tariff on $325 billion more.
The US targeted Huawei in particular during the trade war. Here are the most recent actions the government has taken against the Chinese company:
- In May 2019, the US Commerce Department added Huawei and 70 affiliates to the “Entity List,” a blacklist that identifies companies that threaten the US’s security and foreign policy interests. Listed companies are prohibited from purchasing technologies from America.
- In compliance with the ban, Google, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Intel stopped supporting Huawei.
- The US Commerce Department gave a 90-day exemption for mobile companies and broadband providers to continue working with Huawei. Google was also allowed to send software updates to Huawei products up to August 19, 2019. After that, Google will cease providing its solutions to Huawei devices indefinitely.
- In December 2018, the US arrested Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada for selling technology to Iran in defiance of US sanctions.
- President Trump signed a bill on August 13, 2018, which bans the US government and its contractors from using notable Chinese technologies. Huawei and ZTE, in particular, have been criticized for their potential ties to the Chinese government.
However, the US government has yet to provide hard evidence to implicate Huawei. Pointing this out, Huawei filed a legal motion that the ban on its devices and equipment is unconstitutional.
In a statement accompanying the move, Huawei’s chief legal officer, Song Liuping, says that the crackdown sets a dangerous precedent: “Today, it’s telecoms and Huawei; tomorrow, it could be your industry, your company, your consumers.”
Despite the trade ban, President Trump has expressed a desire to ease restrictions on Huawei, and use it as leverage to strike a better trade deal with China. This is despite him claiming that Huawei is a “dangerous company,” and the never-ending allegations on its spying.
For its part, Huawei anticipated these developments and has started developing an operating system of its own. The software, Hongmeng, is scheduled for inclusion in future Huawei products. However, Hongmeng’s success has yet to be determined, as developers are unsure of producing apps for an OS other than Android.