After Trump’s numerous attempts to restrict Huawei’s business in the West, he finally built his ‘wall’, the one that has made the Chinese tech behemoth lose its access to the US market.
Many have been talking about how this will essentially impact Huawei’s sales and manufacturing and not to mention the biggest impact of them all: China’s relationship with the US and its position in the current trade war between the two nations.
TF International Securities Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that “the most important impact would be losing brand trust if Huawei couldn’t offer stable shipments due to the US export ban,” and that Samsung will be the first to benefit from Huawei’s trade ban while Apple is forecasted to be the second beneficiary.
The US has accused Huawei of cyber espionage on behalf of the Chinese government. However, there has been no solid proof of this being the case.
Many industry experts have criticized President Trump’s decision-making, especially with regards to trade with China. The US’s standard of determining which equipment poses a security risk is not ideal. The Trump administration seems to be following the “do we like you or not?” system.
The trade ban seems to be part of a much broader issue: the US’s trade war with China. This has been happening for quite some time and it is beginning to reach its peak. In the past, China and the US partnered up for a scientific collaboration back in 2011 when China was later on banned from the International Space Station (ISS) due to its surveillance of NASA. As a result, China became more self-sufficient and created its own space station (Heavenly Palace) and the Chang-e space program which has become a global leader in space technology.
More recently, however, prior to the trade ban, the US was trying to discourage its European allies from using Huawei’s equipment to deploy 5G technology. Trump has repeatedly argued that Huawei’s 5G equipment, once deployed in a western country, would be used to spy on others on behalf of the Chinese government. Huawei has denied these allegations. This, however, led to Australia, Japan and New Zealand’s ban on Huawei 5G equipment, and many EU member states as well as the UK are still unsure about where they stand in this situation. And again, Trump’s accusations against the tech behemoth are not based on any actual facts or evidence.
In fact, Huawei is one of the strongest players in the 5G ecosystem at the moment. It may be that the US is imposing all these restrictions on Huawei in an attempt to block its growth or they may actually be concerned for national security reasons. However, there is no solid proof that Huawei has spied on the US or any other company. It is a private-owned enterprise that does not have links to the Chinese government. In fact, Edward Snowden found more proof of the US government’s hacking and spying activities in the cyberspace than there is of Huawei’s alleged ‘cyber espionage’.
With regards to the Edward Snowden Leaks, it was found that Huawei has in fact been spied on by the US government. The leaks revealed Operation Shotgiant, a plan on behalf of the US to hack Huawei servers and spy on them. The hacks are said to have been successful. As a response to the leak, Huawei took it lightly and asked the US government to make their findings of the hack public. Huawei has been defending its position for a long time.
“The Snowden leaks shone a light on how the NSA’s leaders were seeking to collect it all - every electronic communication sent or phone call made, by everyone in the world, every day.” The documents revealed that the US’s NSA (National Security Agency) used to maintain “corporate partnerships” with several tech and telecom companies in the US which allowed them to access the international fiber optic cables, switches and routers all over the world.
However, due to the trade ban which will come into effect in less than three months from now, it would mean that the Chinese telecoms giant will not be able to use any of Google’s products. Huawei’s phones use Android OS which will have to be excluded from their devices once the trade ban goes into effect. The Chinese tech firm is currently working on its own operating system which will bring about a new set of challenges such as gaining international users and app developers despite widespread security concerns.
“A company like Huawei that made it a high priority could probably have something reasonably usable - but not nearly as featured as Android and iOS - in a year or 18 months, especially given the state of open source code today,” said Philip Levis, associate professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University.
Looking back at tech companies that used their very own OS such as Microsoft and BlackBerry, it is clear that they did not have a big enough ecosystem within which their OS could be used and not enough apps were able to operate with them. This is a test which many have failed.
On the other hand, building it based on the current Android system will “make it easier for existing developers to run their apps on it,” said Levis. He added, “A totally new structure, however, could let them improve a lot of things.”
Many are of the belief that Huawei’s new OS will be a success in China, but are unsure about its potential position abroad as it would need to gain the trust of international customers, especially because it will not be subject to security screening by Google (which is what Android-based phones have).
However, there is still the looming issue of chipsets in light of recently losing its chipmakers from the US.
“The chipset issue is a more difficult problem to solve than the operating system. But it won’t affect Huawei’s operating system in the short to medium term,” said Tian Weishu, veteran Android system developer.
The trade ban has forced a sort of self-sufficiency on the tech firm, but China could do well to follow suit and become a full-spectrum economy, one which satisfies its own needs. China already has a plan for 2025 to achieve full technology self-sufficiency and this ban could potentially steer them in their intended direction.