The Huawei-Intel Crisis and its Implications on Technology

For years, Huawei established itself as the prime symbol of China’s growing tech industry. Its phones and computers are now renowned globally, and they have created a great impact in the world. However, recent controversies have turned the world against the Chinese tech titan. Following Google’s ban on providing products to Huawei, Intel—the leading manufacturer of chips—has instructed its employees to stop supplying products to Huawei until further notice.

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Intel has been providing Huawei server chips and processors for the laptop line. Qualcomm, another major American supplier, provides modems and other processors for Huawei.

A Timeline of Events

There has been no full account on why the US thinks Huawei is a threat. However, there are speculations that national security interests fuel America’s distrust of the Chinese company. US intelligence has speculated that Huawei acts on the Chinese government’s behalf, posing a risk to national security and increasing cybersecurity risks for US and the UK consumers. Below are some key events in the wake of the Huawei controversy:

  • January 2019

• Reports indicated that US President Donald Trump would issue an executive order to ban purchases from two major Chinese companies: Huawei and ZTE.

• The US formally requested the extradition of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou from Canada, where she was arrested for doing business with Iran.

• The US Justice Department uncovered 23 counts pertaining to intellectual property theft, obstruction of justice, and fraud.

  • April 2019

• The UK Company Vodaphone found hidden backdoors and vulnerabilities in Huawei routers and other equipment, potentially giving Huawei unauthorized access to Vodafone’s network in Italy.

  • May 2019

• The US Commerce Department added Huawei to its “Entity List,” a blacklist of companies prohibited from buying US equipment.

A Pariah in the West

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Huawei was also rebuffed from entering the US market, one of the many results of the hostility between US President Donald Trump and the Chinese government. In this ongoing trade war, the US is forcing a renegotiation of the two parties’ trading relationship.

Infineon, another major manufacturer, is also taking cautious measures by suspending its shipments to the Chinese company. It will also hold meetings to go over the situation and assess things. Another European chipmaker, ST Microelectronics, will also be assessing its continued shipment.

Huawei’s Move

In anticipation of the Intel chip crisis, Huawei has been stockpiling chips to last at least three months. Huawei is in the process of developing in-house alternatives to Android and Windows. Its new operating system, “Hongmeng,”is also in the works.

However, with the domination of Android and Windows as operating platforms, Huawei’s efforts to convince developers to create apps and programs for “Hongmeng” is an uphill battle. Their chances of making an OS will be most successful in China, where they sell 50-60% of the total phones. Elsewhere, however, the untested OS will not give any assurance that users will be happy, especially if they lose Gmail, Google Maps, and other staple apps.

With the crippling effects of the Huawei-Intel disengagement, and Huawei not answering yet to the allegations against it, the Chinese company must work double time to rebuild its image. While smartphones and laptops produced by Huawei before the ban will continue to receive updates from Android and other providers, the company should now look to the future and fine-tune its technology so as not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

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