Fed up with the US government’s allegations that its technology could be used for espionage, a vice president from Chinese telecommunications company Huawei in April publicly announced it was no longer interested in the US market. Huawei later clarified it would not exit the US, but executive VP Eric Xu’s comments reflect the “reality” Huawei faces there. Since then, Huawei has shifted its attention to other areas, namely Asia, Africa, and Europe. We didn’t heard much from Huawei after that, but rest assured, the company is still very much getting its talons into every foreign market it can.
To get an idea of how Huawei’s been getting on since it lessened its focus on America, we put together a comprehensive timeline of Huawei’s major international dealings, which include 19 different countries over roughly six months.
Should I be worried about this?
It all depends on who you listen to. Obviously, the US government would say yes. You’ll notice that much of Huawei’s international business doesn’t deal in its handsets, but in building, upgrading, and maintaining infrastructure, especially LTE networks. (Of course, Huawei’s smartphone business is expanding as well.) As exemplified in Foreign Policy, Huawei helps enrich people’s lives with internet technologies, especially in developing countries. On the opposite side of the coin, they also often sign contracts with government entities, giving those governments full control over their countries’ internet. Even if you don’t support this practice, many other companies would be happy to take Huawei’s place. And if you believe the US government, Huawei is also leaving backdoors whereby China can conduct secret surveillance on those countries. “We have heard reports about back doors or unexplained beaconing from the equipment sold by both companies [Huawei and ZTE],” said US Congressman Mike Rogers, who chaired the committee that doomed Huawei in the US.
Fears among developed nations might seem to discredit Huawei as an attractive partner, but the statistics prove otherwise. According to Huawei, it surpassed Sweden-based Ericsson to become the world leader in the number of commercial LTE networks launched, and it continues to get 40 percent of those contracts worldwide. Furthermore, Huawei says its products and solutions are available to one-third of the world’s population across 140 countries.
Huawei has not been without its missteps, and is often met with distrust. India joined the US and Australia in banning Huawei from winning government contracts. Uganda plans to audit Huawei for unsatisfactory work when laying fiber-optic cable. Back in 2012, Huawei met heavy criticism when it was accused of selling restricted equipment to Iran.
If you find something I missed in the timeline, please let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to add it.
(Editing by Steven Millward)