The United States Department of Justice released an indictment against the technology company, Huawei, on Jan. 29. The accusation is another addition to the American campaign against Huawei fueled by growing anxiety about the company’s drastic development and the future of wireless networking. Charges include obstruction of justice, theft of technology secrets, and developing technology for the Iranian government despite US sanctions.
Huawei has continued to deny the allegations in the recent indictments. “The company denies that it or its subsidiary or affiliate have committed any of the asserted violations of US law set forth in each of the indictments,” Huawei representatives said in an official statement.
Huawei is a Chinese telecommunications and technology company founded in 1987 that has expanded rapidly in recent years. According to economic data from Huawei, the company’s revenue has increased 350 percent since 2009, reaching a record high of $90 billion during 2017. The dominance of the Chinese company became evident when it surpassed Apple to become the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world in August 2018, falling second to Samsung. Some projections predict that Huawei will overtake Samsung by 2020. Huawei is also the largest networking equipment provider in the world, claiming 28 percent of all equipment sold in 2017.
Huawei’s growth is due to its high-quality and groundbreaking technology. It’s flagship smartphone model, the Mate 20 Pro, includes innovative features like an in-screen fingerprint sensor, three cameras, and long-lasting battery life. In the article, “Huawei Mate 20 Pro Review”, published on Feb. 5, 2019 on Business Insider, writer Antonio Villas-Boas says, “It has a beautiful design, an excellent display, and great performance.”
Huawei is also a pioneer in 5G networks, which is unmarked territory in the future of technology. The company claims that they have successfully tested a prototype of a 5G network. Even with impressive developments, however, Huawei still remains unknown in the U.S likely due to the long history of U.S. hostility towards the Chinese company.
In the article “Timeline: What’s going with Huawei?”, published on Jan. 18, 2019 on the BBC website, various writers say that “critics question how free any major Chinese business can be from Beijing’s influence. They point out that its media-shy founder Ren Zhengfei was a former engineer in the country’s army and joined the Communist Party in 1978.” It was in the army that Ren gained a strong background in engineering and technology and he remains close to the Communist Party. Ren’s close ties to the Chinese government worries the US leaders that China is using Huawei’s telecommunications equipment to steal information from citizens The biggest concern is that “the Chinese government could order the firm to modify its devices to help hack attacks, eavesdrop on conversations or gain high-level access to sensitive networks,” claims the BBC article
The U.S. has built off the initial suspicion surrounding the company by charging it with a multitude of international offenses over the years . The U.S. Department of Justice alleges that one of Huawei’s subsidiary companies violated the sanctions against Iran by using the American banking system to conduct business operations with the Iranian government various times since 2009. Huawei has also been accused of stealing American technology when one of T-Mobile’s testing robots was found in a Huawei employee’s bag in 2014. The mistrust of Huawei led to the U.S. Congress discouraging the sale of Huawei goods in the U.S, turning the company into a nonentity within the country.
Along with the series of recent indictments, the Department of Justice arrested Huawei’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou, in Dec. 2018. Meng is currently awaiting a trial in New York. The revival of U.S. attacks of Huawei is a strategic move in the ongoing U.S.-China trade-wars.
Since last year, the Trump administration has waged a heated trade war against China by placing tariffs on imported Chinese imports like metal, cars and household appliances. The U.S. indictments against Huawei has created international anxiety among the company’s possible business partners. The governments of Australia and New Zealand have already started working to eradicate all Huawei smartphones and telecommunications network from their countries.
Douglas Busvine states that “the EU is considering proposals that would amount to a de-facto ban on Huawei equipment for next-generation mobile networks,” in the article “Huawei’s challenges in Europe,” which was published on Reuters’ website on Feb. 18, 2019. Losing these valuable consumers is a crippling blow to Huawei’s growth as well as the Chinese economy.
The U.S. accusations against Huawei have played a bigger role than simply curbing Huawei’s advancement: they have soiled the reputation of Chinese businesses in general. “The Huawei case is basically a microcosm of what the U.S. alleges Chinese companies do all the time,” says reporter Matt Rivers in the CNN video report “Why the US is making an example out of China’s Huawei,” which was released on Jan. 29, 2019. As a result, countries have been less inclined to aid Chinese companies during the trade-wars with the U.S, causing China to experience one of its worst economic slumps in years.
The greater significance of the feud with Huawei transcends the trade war. It is a struggle between the U.S. and China to control the technology of the future: 5G networking. In the article, “The real reason America is scared of Huawei,” published on Feb. 8, 2019 in the MIT Technology Review, author Will Knight states that “there was a time when the world’s two great superpowers were obsessed with nuclear weapons technology. Today the flashpoint is between the U.S. and China, and it involves the wireless technology that promises to connect your toaster to the web.” 5G technology will not only drastically increase internet speeds, it will also connect a wide range from devices like phones, cars, appliances, and security systems.
Since the technology has the ability to control so many devices, the country that controls it will gain immense power. Since Huawei is in a favorable position to take control of this industry because of its recent developments in telecommunications, American government officials fear that the global networking will be run by China. The U.S. government’s aggression towards Huawei is a result of this anxiety, which shows that, more than any other factor, technology will dominate the future.