With Huawei’s troubles in the U.S. being essentially neverending, so is this recollection of those clashes, disputes, scandals, and controversies. The last update to this archive was made on May 21st, 2019.
Huawei’s issues with Washington and its inability to launch a large-scale business in the United States have been widely reported in recent months, but the Chinese tech giant’s stateside troubles started long before AT&T was pressured to drop its intentions to carry the Mate 10 Pro early this year. Huawei has been on the federal government’s radar for nearly a decade now, but to understand what its latest defeat in the U.S. means, one has to look at the past, as the Huawei has been present in the States since 2001 and has been clashing with lawmakers, regulators, and other companies for the majority of its time here.
First legal troubles and the NSA’s “Operation Shotgiant”
Shortly after Huawei started collaborating with U.S. companies at the turn of the century, the now-telecom giant found itself in legal troubles. In 2003, Cisco Systems accused it of copying its router and network switch source code, thus infringing on its patents. The lawsuit in question was dropped in mid-2004 as part of a settlement that some interpreted as Huawei’s de facto admission of guilt, with the defendant agreeing to modify the source code of its devices. Almost nine years later, Huawei reflected on that episode as a non-story, with its SVP Charles Ding saying that “at that time, Huawei provided our source code of our products to Cisco for review and the results were that there was not any infringement found and in the end, Cisco withdrew the case.” That claim didn’t sit well with Cisco SVP General Counsel Mark Chandler who referred to it as a false “interpretation,” having said he won’t even bother with trying to explain the case on his own but will simply present relevant excerpts from the 2004 settlement. The redacted parts of the document he ended up publishing directly point to Huawei being found guilty of infringement during the investigation of Cisco’s claims, not in the context of some obscure patents but in the sense that it literally used copy-pasted source code from Cisco’s routers. Huawei never responded to Chandler’s request to “set the record straight” and publish the final report of a neutral expert commissioned during the probe that prompted it to settle the lawsuit instead of going to court. The development also made Huawei a powerful enemy which ended up committing significant resources to lobbying against the company with both U.S. regulators and legislators, the Washington Post reported in late 2012.
The NSA started spying on Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei and Chairwoman Sun Yafang in early 2009 as part of “Operation Shotgiant,” according to a 2014 report from Der Spiegel, with the outlet citing unpublicized documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden. An NSA unit is said to have infiltrated Huawei’s network and obtained a list of 1,400 of the company’s customers and a broad range of documentation detailing its internal practices such as engineering training and even protected product source code, as well as an extensive email archive, with the spying team’s ultimate conclusion being that Huawei poses a “unique” threat to the U.S. Among the harvested emails were those from Ren and Sun, as per the same report. “We currently have good access and so much data that we don’t know what to do with it,” one NSA official wrote in the leaked document. The NSA’s hack was aimed at determining whether Huawei is already capable of intercepting communications as part of so-called SIGINT (signals intelligence) activities but the leak didn’t clarify whether any firm evidence of the thereof was found.
Even if Huawei wasn’t actively working on spying on its customers through its equipment, the NSA wanted to determine if it would be able to discover backdoors into its devices on its own. “Many of our targets communicate over Huawei produced [sic] products, we want to make sure that we know how to exploit these products,” one leaked memo reads. The FBI and a White House intelligence coordinator are said to have supported the operation. At the time, Huawei spokesman Bill Plummer said that if the report was true, “the irony is that exactly what they are doing to us is what they have always charged that the Chinese are doing through us.” The official also added that if such spying activities took place, it should be clear that Huawei “is independent and has no unusual ties to any government and that knowledge should be relayed publicly to put an end to an era of mis- and disinformation.”
Capitol Hill-backed accusations of ties to Saddam’s regime
In mid-August of 2010, eight Republican Senators including current U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Sessions authored a letter addressed to the offices of the Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Commerce, Director of National Intelligence, and Administrator of General Services, arguing against Huawei’s reported bid to become one of Sprint Nextel’s network equipment suppliers. Allowing that project would have posed “substantial risk for U.S. companies and possibly undermine U.S. national security,” the lawmakers wrote, pointing to the firm’s “concerning history.” Among other things, the Senators referenced reports that Huawei used to supply telecom equipment to Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, thus possibly conducting a violation of UN trade sanctions. That same network gear may have been used by the regime’s armed forces “which routinely fired on U.S. military aircraft,” the letter reads, concluding that “Huawei should be prohibited” from doing any kind of business with Washington and other public entities in the U.S.
The Senators said they have “been informed” of Huawei’s preferential status in China, claiming that the company is the preferred provider of products and services of the People’s Liberation Army, thus being extremely close to Beijing even though it technically isn’t a state-run firm, albeit one that was founded by a former deputy director of the PLA’s engineering corp. Huawei enjoyed a similar privileged status with China’s embassies around the world, as per the same letter citing unnamed sources. The communication itself marks one of the first official acknowledgments of Huawei’s IP issues on the part of stateside officials, specifically referencing the 2003 episode with Cisco described above as evidence that the Chinese firm has little regard for international law and patents, a sentiment that’s still nurtured by the U.S. government to this date.
The Senators also described Huawei’s PLA ties as worrying in the context of “China’s well documented [sic] focus on developing cyber warfare capabilities,” citing numerous media and intelligence reports from Australia, India, France, and the United Kingdom. The widely reported loans Huawei was given by the Chinese government allowed it to undercut its competitors and may have even been the basis for the company’s Sprint Nextel bid, the letter reads, calling for added regulatory scrutiny of the technology giant’s operations and — once again — a concentrated effort aimed at preventing Huawei from doing business in the U.S. on any significant scale. Following the agreement of the $20.1 billion SoftBank merger in 2013, Sprint and its new Japanese parent vowed not to use any Huawei-made equipment going forward, House Intelligence Committee chief Mike Rogers told The Washington Post in late March of the same year.
Update [April 25, 2018]: As one source pointed out to AndroidHeadlines, the accusations laid out against Huawei in regards to its alleged imports to Iraq were most likely false and possibly even purposefully misrepresented in the public; As explained in the findings of Sydney-based academic Colin Hawes, the company that was actually involved in supplying the Iraqi regime with telecom equipment was called Hua-Mei (translates to “China-America”) and was a joint venture of one American firm and China-based Galaxy New Technology “controlled by Chinese military personnel” which wasn’t related to Huawei in any manner. The confusion appears to be stemming from a reporting error first committed by The Wall Street Journal Asia nine years prior to the aforementioned allegations being laid out by U.S. lawmakers in an official capacity.
The 2011 investigation request that backfired, Abraham Lincoln quotes, and 2012 suicide analogies
In early February of 2011, Huawei USA Chairman Ken Hu sent an open letter to the U.S. government in which it denied all previous spying and security allegations made against the firm, having invited a comprehensive investigation of its corporate operations in order to clear its name. The letter itself was sent in response to Huawei’s blocked acquisition of American server company 3Leaf and was written in a narrative style unconventional for corporate communications, citing everyone from Barack Obama to Abraham Lincoln. “The values of democracy, freedom, rule of law and human rights in the U.S. are the very values that we at Huawei respect, advocate, and live by,” Hu wrote, without clarifying whether he speaks in the name of Huawei USA or Huawei’s global operations given how he was also serving as Deputy Chairman of Huawei Technologies at the time, which is a role that he still fills as of today.
At the time, the Chinese company said that a Washington-led and extremely thorough review of its business is the only way to get the federal administration to trust it, a notion which a Capitol Hill committee later referred to as correct as part of a report detailing the findings of the investigation in question. Those findings were published in early October of 2012, having been disclosed in a congressional report that still pointed to Huawei as a potential national security threat and also encompassed ZTE to which it attached the same label. “The Committee remains unsatisfied with the level of cooperation and candor provided by each company,” U.S. regulators wrote, having said Huawei wasn’t “forthcoming” when it came to providing evidence it isn’t controlled by the Chinese government which the U.S. has never considered an ally, at least not in the context of the communist People’s Republic of China which was only recognized by President Jimmy Carter on January 1, 1979.
The same report also mentioned accusations that the company isn’t adhering to U.S. “legal obligations or international standards of business behavior,” citing interviews with current and former Huawei employees. The legislators said they will refer those concerns to the government for further investigation. The congressional committee acknowledged its findings aren’t concrete evidence of any wrongdoing on ZTE or Huawei’s part but concluded that the “risks associated with Huawei’s and ZTE’s provision of equipment to U.S. critical
infrastructure could undermine core U.S. national-security [sic] interests.” As a result, U.S. legislators recommended the government to continue viewing Huawei’s network equipment “with suspicion” and strongly encouraged private companies to keep “long-term security risks” in mind when considering purchasing its network equipment. “Huawei, in particular, must become more transparent and responsive to U.S. legal obligations” if it hopes to have any chance of doing large-scale business in the country, the report concluded. Huawei’s 2011 investigation request meant to clear its name in the eyes of the U.S. government hence largely backfired. The 3Leaf deal was never completed and the Santa Clara, California-based company immediately went out of business after filing for bankruptcy.
“This was a small deal, but it was a way to teach Huawei a big lesson,” CKGSB Professor of Strategy Teng Bingsheng said at the time, adding that 3Leaf’s technology Huawei was interested in “wasn’t particularly sensitive” but that Washington wanted to clearly communicate the telecom giant “has to play by the rules” if it wants to do any business in the country, regardless of the scale it’s aiming for. Huawei said it’s disappointed with the development at that time, pointing to the September congressional hearing of its SVP Charles Ding who said accepting and Beijing-issued request to provide China with information on its U.S. customers would be nothing short of a “corporate suicide.” Committee Chairman Mike Rogers wasn’t convinced by that and other answers provided by Ding, having said he’s also “a little disappointed” with the outcome of the hearing due to numerous “inconsistencies,” concluding that he was “hoping for a little more transparency” on Huawei’s part.
A week after the publication of the October 2012 report that claimed Huawei remains a national security threat, Reuters reported that the 18-month investigation ordered by President Obama’s White House yielded “no clear evidence” that Huawei is in any way spying on behalf of Beijing or has done so in the past, having provided previously undisclosed details on the matter. The probe labeled the company as a security threat due to a number of vulnerabilities discovered in its networking gear, as per the same source. The report didn’t clarify where the security flaws discovered by investigators were thought to exist by design, i.e. were intentionally left in the infrastructure for someone like China to exploit, or if their presence was simply an oversight. “We knew certain parts of government really wanted [Huawei to be found guilty of spying]… we would have found it [the evidence] if it were there,” one source involved in the investigation told Reuters at the time. Regardless of Huawei’s intentions, the reviewers were highly concerned about the aforementioned security flaws, of which there were said to be many. “We found it [Huawei’s source code] riddled with holes,” one insider who participated in the investigation said, adding that Huawei’s programming appeared to have been much more vulnerable than network device software from the firm’s rivals. The Chinese company repeatedly denied such accusations, claiming its offerings aren’t more susceptible to hacking attacks than those of competing vendors and adding that any security flaws discovered in its solutions are always addressed in a timely manner and will continue being handled as such in the future.
The White House-ordered probe is understood to have encompassed exhaustive interviews with representatives of close to 1,000 companies who purchased networking equipment from Huawei in the past, with two sources cited by Reuters claiming Washington wasn’t as concerned about Huawei spying for China in the past as much as it was worried about the company’s ability to do so in the future, undetected and undisturbed. “If the Chinese government approached them, why would they say no [to spying for Beijing], given their system,” rhetorically asked ex-CIA analyst Chris Johnson at the time. That sentiment combined with Huawei’s past dealings with Beijing outlined above didn’t just carry over to the coming years but arguably became more pronounced as time went on, with the U.S. becoming more adamant to take concrete legislative measures preventing Huawei’s stateside growth ever since.
Obama’s 2013 bill and that time when Huawei told a four-star general “it’s time to put up or shut up”
One such move was made in late March of 2013, less than half a year after the publication of the congressional report which labeled Huawei as a national security threat despite discovering no evidence of foul play. Back then, President Barack Obama signed a funding bill that both prevented a government shutdown and introduced a provision requiring an in-depth review of any Chinese technology that any given federal agency considers purchasing. Such probes would be aimed at determining the risk of “cyber-espionage or sabotage” posed by systems from companies “that are owned, directed, or subsidized” by China. According to Stewart Baker, former Department of Homeland Security official who served under President George Bush, the provision was aimed at fighting off China’s growing influence in the tech segment and was targeting all companies from the Far Eastern country, Huawei included.
In the summer of the same year, former CIA and NSA chief Michael Hayden told the Australian Financial Review (archived version of the page, original deleted between March 13 and April 1 of 2015 for unknown reasons, AFR hasn’t responded to a clarification request) that Huawei poses a significant security risk to both the U.S. and Australia, adding that intelligence agencies in the West have evidence that the company already provided Beijing with “sensitive” information regarding “foreign telecommunications systems” in whose deployment it participated. The comments given in mid-July of 2013 marked the first occasion on which any Western government official — former or current — said there’s hard evidence implicating Huawei as one of China’s spies. Huawei Global Security Officer John Suffolk dismissed the remarks as “defamatory” and called for Hayden and anyone else who agrees with him to present the supposed spying evidence publicly. “It’s time to put up or shut up,” Suffolk said in a statement provided to China’s Sina.
General Hayden remained adamant “it’s simply not acceptable for Huawei to be creating the backbone of the domestic telecommunications network, period.” The four-star General was leading the NSA over a six-year period ending in 2005, after which he had a three-year stint as the head of the CIA. He wasn’t with the Maryland-based agency at the time it allegedly conducted Operation Shotgiant. Australia itself blocked Huawei from bidding for its national broadband network buildout contract in 2011, with Hayden’s AFR interview implying that decision was a wise move on Canberra’s part.
Corporate espionage lawsuit from T-Mobile
T-Mobile sued Huawei in 2014 over alleged misappropriation of its trade secrets stemming from corporate espionage, having accused the company of stealing the design for “Tappy,” a robot it created in 2007 to test touchscreen performance of smartphones. The wireless carrier said the theft happened in 2012 and 2013, with two Huawei employees taking pictures and components of the robot while visiting one of the firm’s facilities in Bellevue, Washington. The case saw T-Mobile drop all Huawei-made devices from its portfolio, went to trial a year later, and ultimately resulted in a loss for Huawei, with the company being found guilty of misappropriation in mid-2017, albeit without any “malicious” intent being proven. As a result, Huawei ended up paying only $4.8 million in damages instead of half a billion dollars T-Mobile originally demanded.
2017, the year of behind-the-scenes work
Save for the resolution of the T-Mobile lawsuit, Huawei had no direct U.S. confrontations in 2017, but last year was important for the company’s stateside operations in the context of how it was meant to set the stage for its grand American smartphone launch of 2018, the one that never ended up happening; after offering some value-oriented models through Amazon and Best Buy, and its subsidiary Honor doing the same in previous years, the company introduced its first Android flagship officially aimed at the U.S., having unveiled it in the form of the Mate 9 in early 2017 (the international model was announced in late 2016). Without backing from a major wireless carrier, the handset didn’t set any sales records in the States and is still being offered by both Best Buy and Amazon as of April 2018. Still, a quiet U.S. year didn’t necessarily mean a bad one for Huawei, a company that at this point endured close to a decade of questionings and fending off what it repeatedly deemed were groundless allegations about its ties to China. That state of affairs is likely what prompted it to make a bold move and come closer than ever to agreeing to a retail partnership with a major mobile service provider in the country; while 2017 was a relatively quiet year for Huawei in terms of consumer-facing announcements in the U.S., it was one of its busiest to date in regards to behind-the-scenes work that went into funneling its stateside ambitions.
AT&T and Huawei agreed to collaborate on a smartphone launch in principle no later than early August of 2017, The Information reported at the time, citing sources that claimed the duo will finalize their retail agreement once they address all “technical hurdles” and specify “the commercial terms” of releasing the upcoming Mate 10 series through the second-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. The partnership would have given Huawei a major entry point in the country where two-thirds of all annual smartphone sales go through mobile service providers. Later that month, Huawei said it’s cutting its U.S. workforce by approximately two-percent, which amounted to some 20 positions, though the move isn’t believed to have been related to its rocky relationship with Washington. The OEM said as much, having confirmed its stateside business isn’t going anywhere despite a small number of reports speculating the opposite.
While the negotiations with AT&T reportedly dragged on longer than expected and were still described as being in early stages as of mid-December, Huawei’s bold attempt may have given courage to Xiaomi, another ambitious OEM from China with less Beijing-related baggage, Bloomberg reported in late 2017, claiming the Chinese startup also approached AT&T regarding a potential retail partnership and adding that both Huawei and Xiaomi are also in the process of negotiating a similar agreement with Verizon, the nation’s largest wireless carrier. Later that same month, Huawei Consumer Business Group Yu Chengdong (Richard Yu) told ABC News that the company will launch its 2018 Android flagships through “U.S. carriers,” implying talks with numerous operators aren’t just in the works but have essentially progressed to the point of no backing down. For the first time in a long while and following nearly a decade of enduring hostilities from Washington, Huawei’s stateside prospects were finally looking up…
So close, yet so far away in 2018
… and then 2018 came. While no new reports on a potential Verizon partnership emerged in the meantime, the AT&T deal was widely expected to be officially announced at CES 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Reports from January suggested that’s precisely what was to be the case, except the January 9 announcement never happened because AT&T backed off at the last minute, The Wall Street Journal reported, leaving Huawei’s Yu on its own on to give what some perceived as one of the most emotional speeches made in the history of the 50-year-old trade show, also the world’s largest happening of its kind. On January 9, Yu spent some 25 minutes detailing the new Mate 10 lineup on stage at CES 2018, then ended up going off script for the next five minutes, effectively confirming reports about the unexpected collapse of the AT&T deal, referring to the development as “a big loss” for both Huawei and the American people. “Consumers don’t have the best choice” following early 2018 developments because “everybody knows that in the U.S. market over-90 percent of smartphones are sold by carrier channels,” Yu said in Las Vegas.
In the immediate aftermath of the AT&T episode, Republican House Representatives Michael Conaway and Liz Cheney introduced a bill meant to block the U.S. government from using Huawei and ZTE-made network equipment. Less than a month later, another two Republicans — Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton and Florida Senator Marco Rubio — presented a similar bill, with their initial draft being aimed at preventing all federal agencies from “procuring or obtaining, renewing or extending a contract to obtain or procure, or entering into a contract with” any telecom company that uses any kind of technology from Huawei and ZTE, as well as any entity believed to be owned or otherwise controlled by China. The “Defending U.S. Government Communications Act” has yet to be voted on by the Senate, after which it will also have to pass through the House of Representatives, both of which presently have a Republican majority. China hasn’t reacted to the February bill but said the January one will harm Beijing-Washington relations,
A week following CES 2018, Reuters reported that Capitol Hill is still pushing AT&T to cut all of its other ties to Huawei, signaling it isn’t pleased with just preventing the firm from selling its smartphones to American consumers on a significant scale. Shortly afterward, Verizon ended all talks over a potential partnership with Huawei as well, Bloomberg reported in late January, claiming the country’s largest wireless carrier also caved in to pressure from Washington.
This February, six U.S. intelligence chiefs including directors of the FBI, NSA, and the CIA warned the American public against buying Huawei devices, claiming the firm’s smartphones could be used for spying. FBI Director Chris Wray testified that “any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values” shouldn’t be allowed to play an important role in the stateside telecom sector, especially at a time when contemporary communications are gradually being integrated into every aspect of people’s everyday lives as is now the case with the advent of 5G. The top intelligence officials said they personally wouldn’t use Huawei devices nor would they recommend them to anyone, having reiterated those claims in the context of ZTE-made products.
Later that same month, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull received warnings from both the FBI and NSA not to use Huawei’s equipment for deploying 5G networks in the country less Canberra risks having its critical infrastructure breached, AFR reported. While Australia’s aforementioned decision to block Huawei’s NBN tender offer in 2011 stood, the country’s second-largest telecom firm Optus said it will collaborate with the Chinese firm on 5G deployment in early February, having later dismissed the security concerns about Huawei by stating it rigorously tests all equipment provided to it. As things stand right now, the company’s experimental 5G network will launch in Australia in early 2019 despite the protests from the U.S. intelligence community. Besides Australia, the U.S. has recently been warning its other allies such as South Korea and Canada to stay clear of Huawei’s equipment, whereas Bell Canada, Orange, and even the Christian Democratic Union of Germany came in Huawei’s defense several weeks prior to that development, joining the company in its claims that the U.S. never presented the global public with any credible evidence that Huawei does China’s bidding and spies for Beijing.
In the meantime, Yu took to Barcelona, Spain-based MWC 2018 to once again criticize Washington for blocking Huawei due to what he believes is fear that the company is technologically superior to its U.S. rivals, with the OEM’s SVP and communications head Chen Lifang distancing the firm from its CEO’s comments following that episode. “It’s not right to blame the other party for not accepting us, we can only try harder, maintain our openness and transparency and wait until the other party is willing to communicate,” Chen said in a statement provided to South China Morning Post in late February, indicating the tech giant may be looking to change its approach to handling the issue and begin that transition by having Yu tone down his comments of the matter. Regardless of whether that was the plan, the CEO’s silence didn’t last for long.
Following those developments, Best Buy decided to give up on Huawei-made products in their entirety, according to reports from late March, with industry sources claiming the retailer will only continue selling the firm’s offerings while its existing stock lasts, adding that its Huawei inventory is likely to be depleted by the end of spring, if not sooner. While some industry watchers interpreted the alleged decision as Best Buy’s attempt to score some PR points while dropping Huawei is supposedly seen as a patriotic thing to do in the United States, the development may have also been related to accusations that the Chinese phone maker solicited fake reviews of the Mate 10 Pro on Best Buy’s website a month earlier. The phone maker firmly denied that notion and attributed it to “an internal miscommunication,” having claimed that one of its community managers wrongly asked for Best Buy reviews from beta testers as part of a post published in a private Facebook group instead of asking for direct feedback on the device. Huawei-made products can still be purchased from Best Buy as of early April and neither party has confirmed the widespread claims about their relationship ending that were separately reported by Reuters, CNET, and CNN, with all three citing sources familiar with the situation.
In an emailed statement provided to CNET in late March, Yu said Huawei remains committed to earning the trust of U.S. consumers and regulators in spite of “groundless” accusations, having once again delivered a more aggressive corporate message than the one his colleague Chen sent in late February. All suspicions raised by the U.S. in this and previous years “are quite frankly unfair,” Yu said. According to the firm’s consolidated financial report for 2017, its Americas unit shrunk by 10.9-percent over the course of the last year, and while Huawei largely attributed that decline to a spending decrease in Latin America, it would have presumably been able to combat it if the U.S. was more acceptive of its wireless offerings. Its inability to enter the stateside smartphone market with a high-end product sold by a carrier is a massive blow to its global ambitions, with recent research from GfK noting that despite the fact North America accounted for less than 14-percent of global phone sales in 2017 in terms of moved units, its share of global revenue was closer to 18-percent over the same period. In other words, the average selling price of handsets in North America is significantly larger than in most other markets, amounting to $417, only behind Western Europe ($446) and Developed Asia ($645). For added context, the population of developed parts of Asia amounts to just over 243 million, whereas Western Europe has just under 400 million people, as per 2016 data. With close to 326 million nationals as of last year, the United States is hence one of the world’s largest flagship smartphone markets, hence representing one of the most attractive opportunities for Huawei’s P and Mate lineups if it wasn’t for regulatory issues.
The Federal Communications Commission is now looking to limit the use of its Universal Service Fund with the goal of avoiding any scenario in which such resources are utilized to support companies which may pose a national security risk to either the U.S. communications networks or its telecom supply chain, the agency said late last month as part of a release that was widely interpreted as targeting Huawei and ZTE despite the fact that it directly references neither. Earlier this year, Congress is already said to have asked the FCC to investigate Huawei’s stateside ambitions but it’s presently unclear whether the regulator’s March proposal is related to that request which was initially reported by Bloomberg but never confirmed.
Some analysts are now speculating Huawei’s recent statements about not giving up on the U.S. won’t amount to much in practice, predicting the company will almost certainly shift its resources to Europe which has historically been much more receptive of its products. As the Shenzhen-based tech juggernaut already pledged to invest over $4 billion in the UK, those predictions are already standing on some factual ground. A Reuters-conducted analysis of Huawei’s recent financial disclosures also shows the tech giant is apparently rethinking its U.S. lobbying efforts and is now looking to promote its brand in a less direct manner, i.e. by lowering the amount of cash it spends on actual lobbyists and refocusing on sponsoring telecom events, competitions, and similar happenings. While that strategy shift may not result in decreased spending on corporate promotions and could even have an opposite effect, it should and already is lowering Huawei’s financial commitments that must be disclosed as lobbying in accordance with applicable laws. Huawei’s U.S. future now appears to be less clear than ever, especially as the firm is now understood to be conducting layoffs “across the board” in the country and has even parted ways with its long-time Washington-based advocate and external affairs chief William Plummer.
Update [December 6, 2018]: Huawei CFO was arrested in Canada based on a U.S. warrant stemming from an investigation into an alleged banking scheme devised as part of a conspiracy to violate stateside trade sanctions imposed on Iran.
Update [January 8, 2019]: Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s 46-year-old CFO and one of Mr. Ren’s three children, is reportedly accused of misrepresenting the firm’s relations with two companies operating in the Middle East, both of which are defunct as of today and are believed to have essentially acted as the conglomerate’s fronts. She’s been released on bail amounting to the equivalent of around $7.5 million and is already fighting her extradition attempt even though the Justice Department has yet to formally file it.
Update [January 11, 2019]: A Huawei executive has been arrested in Poland along with a Warsaw official, with the duo being accused of international espionage on behalf of Beijing.
Update [January 24, 2019]: Amid all of these controversies, one of the company’s marketing teams decided it’s a good idea to try stealing a copyrighted song for a globally aired advertisement. The ad aired backed by the EDM track in question, with Huawei getting caught immediately.
Update [January 28, 2019]: The DOJ charged Ms. Meng, several Huawei officials, an two of its subsidiaries on thirteen counts of criminal activity. She is facing decades in prison if extradited.
Update [January 30, 2019]: The newly filed lawsuit comes with materials yielding some truly incredible insight into select Huawei employees. The federal prosecution prepared countless documents while building the case against one of the world’s richest firms. The assets include a lengthy set of ridiculously incriminating e-mails proving select management structures at the company were truly pushing for T-Mobile’s robot “Tappy” to be stolen, copied, or memorized for subsequent copying by any means necessary.
Update [February 6, 2019]: Germany is moving to stop Huawei in its 5G tracks by following the Australian model, local media reports, adding that the plan is still being considered but generally speaking, Berlin doesn’t want Huawei anywhere near its critical 5G infrastructure.
Update [February 8, 2019]: Huawei is trying to resolve the incident in Poland with money, having publicly offered cybersecurity investments in exchange for the situation to be resolved. The arrested official in question has been fired, with the firm insisting it had no knowledge of his actions and has no evidence of any wrongdoing on his part.
Update [February 13, 2019]: The sheer volume of cybersecurity accusations against Huawei reached unprecedented heights; the company now published an FAQ page detailing how it, in fact, is not a national security threat to anyone. A week beforehand, Huawei Chairman Liang Hua claimed the company would and could never share any customer data with the Chinese government, without substantiating those claims or remarking on how can the company even prove it’s not doing so already given its extremely opaque structure.
Update [February 27, 2019]: Huawei and Samsung settled a mysterious patent dispute that’s been troubling both sides for two years now, redacted court documents indicate. The original clash revolved around telecom IP and Samsung’s supposedly illegal efforts aimed at curbing Huawei’s international growth.
Update [March 1, 2019]: Canada allowed Ms. Meng’s extradition to the U.S. She’s now facing up to 30 years in federal prison based on charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, and several others. The industry veteran maintains her innocence.
Update [April 29th-May 1st, 2019]: A high-profile leak from the British government revealing to what extent is London willing to give Huawei the benefit of the doubt when it comes to its national 5G project led to added tensions between the United Kingdom and the U.S. and also saw former resort to a surprise firing of a top security official, hence somehow overshadowing the debacle called Theresa May’s Brexit negotiation plan, or lack thereof. In the meantime, Washington’s threats meant to pressure its allies into toeing the global wireless line are becoming more intense – to no avail, at that.
Update [May 9th, 2019]: Ms. Meng is now opposing her extradition request on the basis of what she and her legal team perceives are direct threats from Trump. Canadian prosecutors are trying to fast-track the hearings but the attorneys representing the Chinese executive have been successful in stopping those efforts. The case is consequently extremely unlikely to be concluded with a first-instance verdict prior to 2020.
Update [May 15th-May 21st, 2019]: President Trump signed an executive order effectively banning Huawei from the U.S. The White House issued a decree forbidding American companies from working with any firm deemed a national security threat in the cyberspace. The Wednesday order did not name Huawei directly but the top office in the country blacklisted the conglomerate just two days later.
By the end of the week, Google, Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and a number of other tech juggernauts in the U.S. already complied with the majority or entirety of the order. Industry analysts are now predicting Huawei’s supply chain could crumble in record time if the situation is now handled just as swiftly. The company vowed to continue serving its existing customers with no after-sales service interruptions, specifically pointing out how that promise also encompasses security patches.
Huawei has been given a temporary license to continue operating as it were on May 21st; the move essentially amounts to an extremely shaky suspended sentence and doesn’t really solve anything but the most immediate of its woes.
AndroidHeadlines reached out to Huawei for comment on its long history of issues in the U.S. detailed above and will update this timeline with any response it receives.