Huawei: Enemy of the US?
Huawei has had a hell of a year. From toppling the smartphone giants Apple’s iPhone in terms of sales to the several US government-related controversies, it’s certainly not been a dull period for the Chinese tech giants. It should come as no surprise that much of Huawei’s history is marred in many such controversies. However, you may be surprised how many of the controversies throughout the years remained unchanged. Here, we look at a few controversies the company has gone through in just this calendar year. The list will be listing these controversies from the oldest of the year to the newest. In fact, the last entry on this post only happened yesterday!
January – Defending US Government Communications Act
A French newspaper linked Huawei to the hack of the African Union Headquarters in Ethiopia. The Chinese government, of course, denied the acquisitions. Right after this, the US government would propose the Defending US Government Communications Act, call for FCC to investigate the company, and even got AT&T to pull out of an agreement with Huawei. Verizon, on the other hand, would stop carrying Huawei products in the future. This was only the start, and Huawei would have a rough year ahead of them.
February – Intelligence heads think Huawei is spyware
On February 14, 2018, heads of six U.S. intelligence agencies testified to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence against the use of Chinese telecom products by U.S. citizens. Like those of Huawei and ZTE. Christopher A. Wray, director of the FBI, stated that they were “deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks”. Huawei responded to the allegations, arguing that its products “[pose] no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor, sharing as we do common global supply chains and production capabilities,” and that it was “aware of a range of U.S. government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei’s business in the U.S. market”
March – Best Buy stops selling Huawei
Best buy, one of the largest retailers of consumer technology in the US, stops selling Huawei products. Huawei takes another hit to their bottom line, and the pseudo war against the Americans start taking its toll.
April – US Government forbids self from using Huawei tech
On April 17, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held a preliminary, 5-0 vote. It was on rules forbidding the use of government subsidies to purchase telecom equipment from companies deemed to be a risk to national security. A draft of the policy specifically even named Huawei and ZTE as examples. This would further restrict Huawei, as anyone who wants to work intimately with a massive employer like the US would have to make certain to not have Huawei phones.
May – The Pentagon bans Huawei phones from retail stores on military bases
In an unsurprising move, the Pentagon went ahead and banned Huawei from all military base retail shops. Huawei in a statement basically didn’t even address it. Instead, they said, “We remain committed to openness and transparency in everything we do and want to be clear that no government has ever asked us to compromise the security or integrity of any of our networks or devices.”
June – Revelations of Facebook and Huawei’s secret data-sharing pact
This was during that time of the year when everyone on Facebook started to get worried about how Zuckerberg may be misappropriating our data. Naturally, if it’s controversial, Huawei would have to be mentioned somewhere. This was simply one such case. A series of reports this week revealed that, for the past 10 years, Facebook’s broad sharing of data extended not only to app developers but to phone companies as well. Of course, one of the phone makers on top of that list would be Huawei.
July – Huawei overtakes Apple
In possibly the only positive news for Huawei during the whole year, they managed to outsell iPhones for the second quarter of this year. Huawei shipped over 54 million handsets in the second quarter compared to the 41.3 million iPhones that Apple sold. This would make them the second biggest phone sellers of the globe.
August – Huawei caught faking camera shots in ads
And we’re back to Huawei being completely morally bankrupt. To play the devils advocate, they never explicitly stated that it wasn’t a DSLR shot. They just heavily implied it with the wrist position.
September – Huawei caught cheating benchmark test for P20
Huawei gets caught with their pants down, as the list gets sillier. Again. Shocking. Literally just weeks removed from the last fiasco, in September, AnandTech discovered that Huawei’s P20 had been programmed to maximize performance specifically when running 3DMark, a popular benchmarking app. Huawei admitted to this in a statement to Android Authority.
October – The only non-controversial month
Huawei announced a few new phones like the 5G foldable they are working on. They announced the new Mate 20. They asked Trump to change his device to Huawei as reports of iPhone tapping became known. All in all, a real month of R&R for the execs of Huawei.
November – Americans discourage allies from using Huawei devices:
R&R would end soon, however. In November, the US would ask many of it’s allies to stop using the tech giants products. Allegedly. Sources claim that US government officials have met with counterparts in Germany, Japan, and Italy, and are reportedly considering offering financial incentives to countries who opt not to use equipment from the Chinese manufacturer.
December – Canadian authorities arrest The CFO:
However, the latest chapter of the story was told only yesterday. Huawei Vice-chairperson and CFO Meng Wanzhou, daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada at the request of U.S. authorities. She faces extradition to the United States on charges of violating sanctions against Iran.
As anyone can see, at this point the company has become an absolute magnet for controversy. They’ve clashed so hard with the US government this year you might mistake them to be Iran or something. Huawei is backing off of US markets. Barring random marketing campaigns they do to generate buzz, the company’s future there seems uncertain. Yet, with a dominating share in Chinese markets, they remain safe globally.