It’s been gently simmering away on the stove in the background, but you can’t help but have noticed that there is something going on around Huawei! We’ve considered adding a piece to the newsletter a couple of times, but now we simply could not resist!
Huawei are a behemoth of a giant Chinese technology manufacturer, turning over an estimated $90bn in 2017, with a particular interest in the area of Telecoms and IT. When it comes to smartphones Huawei sell more than Apple and are second only to Samsung.
Huawei also make switches and servers too, meaning worldwide (including the UK) there are telecoms networks running with Huawei equipment at their very core.
However there have been gentle rumblings about Huawei in the background, mostly fuelled one would suspect by their close association to the Chinese state. The suspicion is that Huawei might be a gateway for the Chinese to spy on western nations.
The story began back in 2012 when following the completion of the African Union building in Addis Ababa in 2012. Heavily funded and built, at a cost of an estimated $200m by Beijing, the building included a very high specification Chinese computer system.
Suddenly in 2018 a French journalist writing for La Monde Afrique claimed that several sources had noticed anomalies with data leaving the building (allegedly sent to Shanghai) every night between the hours of midnight and 02.00, for nearly 5 years. Needless to say this has been neither admitted or substantiated, but it was enough to cause a ripple effect around the world.
Then in December 2018 the CFO of Huawei, Meng Wanzhou along with the owners daughter, were retained from boarding a flight in Canada, accused of breaking sanctions with Iran. They were then charged with banking irregularities, followed by charges levelled against Huawei itself for the attempted theft of trade secrets.
With the impending roll out of 5G networks globally, tensions heighted.
Next to raise their heads were the ‘5 eyes’, an intelligence alliance that includes US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who questioned the security and integrity of Huawei equipment and software in national telephone operators’ networks. Of the 5, to date only the UK has stepped forward and publicly stated that it does not consider Huawei a threat to mobile network integrity in the UK.
However, (and Mid Trade war between the USA and China, we should add) things have heated up significantly this month with Google in the USA announcing that it will no longer offer software upgrades to Huawei mobile handsets and will potentially restrict access to firm favourites such as Google products and YouTube on new Huawei phones! This could effectively see the end of the Android operating service for this smartphone giant.
This has been followed by an executive order by President Trump banning the sale of microchips to Huawei, stopping enormous brands such as Intel or Qualcomm from providing their product, with immediate effect.
This could not have come at a worse time for Huawei, with 5G networks about to be rolled out globally and the failure of Samsung to deliver their latest folding phone. However, rebuffs from Huawei HQ in Shenzhen strongly deny any wrong-doing and confidently pronounce that perhaps their capability is being underestimated.
Whatever next you might ask? Well, one thing that is for sure is that this saga has not run its course yet and there are bound to be many more twists and turns along the way. Hold on folks, it’s going to be quite a ride.1