Dalila Omerovic, Opinions Editor
The trade war with China continues, especially as the U.S. is increasingly growing its concerns over the popular Chinese technology company Huawei. The U.S. isn’t the only one wary of the tech company; Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Japan and Canada worry about Huawei’s influence as well.
Huawei has grown to be one of China’s largest technology companies and is the second-largest smartphone seller in the world. The company also produces smart devices, cloud services and includes telecommunications networks.
Huawei has been under the U.S. government’s suspicion for years because the company holds close ties with the Chinese Communist Party. Top U.S. intelligence chiefs have determined that Huawei poses potential national security risks to the U.S. and warned against American firms doing business with them.
Huawei has managed to continue to work with and export technologies to countries who are under sanction, like North Korea and Iran, providing them both with telecommunications technology that can be used for spying.
Last year, Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested by Canadian officials and served with several indictments by the U.S. Justice Department for bank and wire fraud, conspiracy against the U.S., and stealing trade secrets, all of which allegedly related to a breach of American sanctions against Iran.
In May, President Trump issued an executive order banning U.S. companies from using information and communication technology from those who are considered a threat to national security. Huawei was later placed on a trade blacklist that bans it from working with U.S. companies without the government’s approval.
In short, U.S. intelligence strongly believes that Huawei can help the Chinese government spy on and potentially attack the US.
The government’s concerns certainly have some validity. However, it is still unclear whether or not the Chinese government is using Huawei products to spy on people all over the world.
Many experts seem to be divided on the issue. On one hand, many believe that while Huwai may pose risks of espionage and sabotage, there is no hard-line evidence that finds Huawei guilty of this. Instead, they believe the U.S. should focus on mitigating these risks rather than banning Huawei equipment and technologies. On the other hand, some experts find that the close relationship between Huawei and the Chinese government shows that the goal of the company is to steal intellectual property and trade secrets, and ultimately undermine the U.S.
However, while these close ties may exist, Huawei remains a private enterprise that was created in the 1980s while China was undergoing economic reform, and state-owned enterprises differ greatly from privately owned enterprises. Qing Wang, professor of marketing and innovation at the University of Warwick, finds that state-owned CEOs are appointed by the government and have strong communist ties, but CEOs of privately owned enterprises either created the business themselves or inherited it through their families. As a result, their capabilities and business practices differ. Wang believes Huawei has fallen victim to scandals created by the Western world.
The ongoing U.S.-China war shows no signs of slowing. In fact, it’s unclear how long it will last. It’s also interesting to see how far the US is willing to go when it comes to regulating relations between American companies and Huawei.