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Huawei — Victim of Trump’s Trade Tantrums

President Trump’s insecurities don’t make Huawei a spy

Over the past few months, Chinese tech behemoth Huawei has faced a maelstrom of bad news that would have killed off a smaller company. From allegations of corruption to being part of a Chinese state surveillance network keeping tabs on the world, Huawei have been accused of everything and anything. But what is behind the storm and why do I feel like buying a Huawei mobile phone more than ever before?

Make no mistake, Huawei make some fantastic mobile and tech devices. They are behind some of the world’s highest high tech — core infrastructure at the bleeding edge of electronic innovation. For those of us with an eye on future consumer tech in the European consumer market, the past decade has seen Huawei go from an outfit that seemed unknown outside China to a major must-have brand in what seemed like a relatively static mobile tech market in the west. They are leaders.

And then there is Trump.

In common with the rest of the alt-right, he uses a pro-nationalist and protectionist stance which leverages attacks on those seen as rivals and, for Trump, China can only be a key enemy rather than a key partner. Ultimately, nothing illustrates how weak a “We are great” position is if you cannot promote it without attacking someone else.

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Trump has become aware that his attacks on China have had little impact as the Chinese state refuse, rightly, to give him the attention that he, with his ridiculous toddler tantrums, craves. Faced with being ignored, he has decided to attack Huawei instead. Huawei, in his mind, is an agent of the Chinese state. To back this up, vague allegations have been made by the Trump administration about technology that Huawei has been providing for 5G mobile infrastructure and he has persuaded others to go down the same route.

The list of countries that have moved against Huawei is striking insofar as how close each of them is to the United States:

The UK: BT announced that it was removing Huawei tech from their mobile networks — but not other equipment. And let’s not even talk about the bizarre circumstances revolving around Gavin Williamson’s sacking.

Australia: Nationally, Huawei and ZTE have been banned from providing tech for their 5G network.

New Zealand: The government blocked a company from using Huawei tech.

And then Canada arrested Meng Wenzhou as well as reviewing their use of Huawei’s tech.

Of course, when all of these big democracies move against a company, there has to be something in it, doesn’t there?

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Well, that is an interesting question because it seems very much as if they have come to their position based on the views of the American administration. However, what is striking about every single attack on Huawei’s tech is that none of them have been backed up by any actual proof. Nothing. Not even the suggestion of a possibility of something. The closest anybody has come to saying anything of substance was a former Canadian director of intelligence, Ward Elcock, who said “All Chinese companies at the end of the day, and probably to a great degree, are susceptible to being pressured to do things for the People’s Republic of China”.

I find it difficult to express how lazy I find that — let alone how borderline racist it is. “Well, they’re Chinese, aren’t they?” isn’t exactly proof of anything. And, anyway, isn’t it just as vald to say ‘All US companies, at the end of the day, and probably to a great degree, are susceptible to being pressured to doing things for the NSA and other organs of the United States’.

It is, of course, possible to construct an argument that this is a matter of national security and so there is very little that can be said. But if there really was a back door or flaw or return path to the Chinese government, not only would a member of the tech community have found it by now, they would not have been able to stop themselves telling the world — after all, it’d be a great thing to put on your CV. And what a coup! Except nobody has. Nobody.

Not once has anybody been able to go beyond innuendo and hearsay. Not once has an individual or government body raised the bar beyond “well, they’re Chinese”. Not once.

This has gone on for months now and we have zero proof that Huawei has done anything wrong — but we have plenty that Trump has tried to undermine Chinese economic interests in the hope that it will somehow ‘Make America Great Again’.

Huawei is an amazing company that has not only been at the forefront of some great tech innovation, it has also brought that innovation to consumers at prices that certain western tech companies were uncomfortable with — because it has cut in to their lazy high margins.

Until someone shows me the smoking gun, there’s essentially nothing to prove that Huawei has done anything wrong except being successful against western competitors — and in the market, that’s not a crime. Stopping them from being involved in 5G infrastructure is an act of ridiculous self-harm because their technology, whether major infrastructure or consumer mobile and everything in between, is really good.

Now, while we are once again worried about government interference in tech, let’s take another look at how much of your information was and is still being given to the American NSA by US tech companies…

Written by

Entrepreneur. Lecturer in Digital Business at the Grenoble Ecole de Management. Digital. Political. European. Keeper of chickens & rabbits. Views my own.

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