Editorial - Huawei vs USA: it's time to take sides

huawei donald trump xi jinping

I have been a blogger for several years now and I have experienced (and written in) some thorny situations in the tech world. However, analyzing the bigger picture, I often notice how almost all of these concern a rather restricted audience. Just think of the LeEco case, which has been talked about far and wide on our shores, even in a heated manner. But said inter nos, how many ordinary people have ever heard of LeEco? Here it is. On the contrary, it was a few nights ago that I picked up the question Huawei vs USA it was larger than it could initially be perceived. Of course, it was immediately clear that this was not a story of poco account, but it was because of my grandparents that I realized what was really going on.

It's a Thursday night like any other when I'm invited by them for a pizza. We sit down, order a cooked and stracchino and, between a chat and the other, the topic comes up. "At the news they said that now Huawei phones are not updating anymore!”Exclaims my grandfather, a sentence followed by a series of more or less correct utterances on what happened. I let them talk for a while and then I say my opinion, based on all the news that has come out up to that moment, followed by me with vivo interest. But that was when my grandfather was not really the person anymore geek in circulation, it was stated that I understood that the thing was bigger than expected.

And it is precisely from this exchange in a pizzeria that the will to write this editorial was born. An editorial that will be as objective as possible, although there will be a personal point of view on the situation, hoping that it will generate a constructive discussion with you in the comments. Today, like never before, I feel involved in a case that is no longer just about me and you, Chinese and non-Chinese phone lovers, but that involves the whole world. Grandparents included.

huawei logo

Huawei vs USA: the point of the situation

Let's step back and get back to the January 20 2017. Given that for many of you it might not say much, but it represents after one to say the least poco turbulent election campaign, the rise to the presidency of <br><br>Donald Trump. I want to start right away with the premise that this will not be a political editorial, so I will try to stick as much as possible to the facts rather than the feelings. Having said that, if we analyze the electoral program of the Trump administration, we can note a certain closure towards the rest of the world. Especially towards the China, a nation that has always been culturally and socially distant from the USA.

Without going into the merits of the matter, in this climate that is not exactly peaceful, a real one is soon born trade war fought to the sound of duties. Since the beginning 2018 the import tariff increases on 60 billions of dollars of imports on Chinese products have started. The plan calls for increases on approximately 1300 products exported from China. The reason? "Decades of intellectual property theft"States the American government. Thefts that would have contributed to the growth of the deficit and, more generally, to the industrial crisis. As expected, from an impacting decision an escalation of commercial disagreements soon arose, which I will not now list here.

Why this distrust of Huawei?

What is most pressing at this point is the motivation pursued by the USA. Which can be summarized in a concise and potentially poisonous phrase: China spies and steals. And since we're talking about Huawei, we can narrow the sentence to the company in question. But how much is true in such a strong statement? It was in the February 2018 that the US intelligence doubts came under the spotlight under the Trump administration. The group formed mainly by FBI, CIA ed NSA explained his position, summarized in the following statements by FBI director Chris Wray:

"We are deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company in debt to foreign governments that do not share our values ​​to gain a position of power in our telecommunications networks. This provides the ability to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure. And the ability to maliciously modify or intentionally steal information. And this makes it possible to conduct an undetected espionage activity."

Here are the key words: "risks"and "values". According to these statements it would seem that we are not talking about real tangible proofs, but about eventualities that would derive from a different socio / cultural position. As mentioned poco ago, the disagreements between the US and China have always existed historically, and the Trump presidency has done nothing but re-fuel them.

china spy

In reality this question starts even earlier, or in the 2002, when Cisco accused Huawei of stealing their source codes from their routers. Subsequently, in the 2010 also Motorola he took Huawei to court and in both cases it ended with compensation from the Chinese company. But it is in the 2012, under the pressure of the then government Obama, that Huawei officially ends up in the American blacklist, with the main operators who decided to have nothing to do with it. Hence the reason why Huawei phones have never had a market in the USA, where most phones are sold by the operator.

After years of silence, it is in 2018 that we return to talk about the accusations against Huawei. But there is still a step backwards, that is to 2014, when Huawei was accused by T-Mobile di theft of industrial secrets. The lawsuit was again lost by Huawei, resulting in compensation. And finally we return to the February 2019, with the umpteenth charge of intellectual property theft Akhan semiconductor.

Ren Zhengfei: hero or public enemy #1?

Another important element in this intricate story is the real root of Huawei, which responds to the name of Ren Zhengfei. From a young age he cultivated his career within the Chinese government. Not so much for his own choice as for necessity, as he later stated. "Those were the 60 years, in China there was the chaos of the Cultural Revolution and poverty. I was an engineer and ended up being drafted to run a military-run fabric factory."A position not really desired, here.

And in fact in 1983, the year of his demobilization, he seizes the ball to get out of the military world and start his own business. It starts from the construction of telephone exchanges in Shenzhen but it is in the 1987 that establishes Huawei: the rest is history. Already the name, which translated means "China is able" or also "China acts“, Is the perfect example of the sense of patriotism that has always passed through the country and, with it, its population. But you know, convincing other countries of your good will is not easy at all, especially if there are causes like the ones I told you about. poco over it.

ren zhengfei huawei

What China and the US did wrong

In light of all this, it is undeniable that something has gone wrong between the USA and Huawei. All these events have done nothing but worsen the image of the brand in North America, already in itself not excellent. If we combine a not so brilliant US economy with all this, then Donald Trump's move is not surprising.

"Whoever is without sin, throw the first stone"Gospel according to John 8,1-11

If the scriptures were not enough, perhaps this cartoon can express the concept more than many words.

huawei china uses meme

Dank memes apart from that, China has also done its fair share of dubious actions. The two-year 2009 / 2010 was crossed by the access block in China to platforms like Google e Facebook. These were followed by all the major Western realities: WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Snapchat and Twitch, to name just a few (here the complete list). Not to mention all the services provided by Google, such as YouTube, Gmail, Maps, Calendars and so on. The reason for this massive ban is part of China's view of the use of the web in the West. Although it cannot be shared, it is also a historical distrust, as well as for the American one. What if poco ago I quoted that passage from the Gospel, there is a clear reason: even the US did their part.

The most striking case is undoubtedly the one related to Edward Snowden, whose revelations have shattered the political world. In the leaked documents a heavy cone of shadow is thrown on the work of NSA ed American telephone operators, who would have acquired data illegally against many countries and governments. And among these was China, which would have suffered piracy actions since the 2009. As reported from Sunday Morning Post, the NSA violated Chinese telephone operators and Beijing Tsinghua University to collect millions of messages.

Edward Snowden China

What happened to Huawei?

In this climate of tension, the announcement of the US ban against Huawei had repercussions to say the least poco huge. The recent addition to the infamous Entity List has meant that all US companies need to distance themselves. But that's not all: even all companies that use technologies of American origin can no longer trade with Huawei. Here, then, that names like Google, Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Microsoft and NVIDIA (to name a few) have promptly disappeared from the company's radar. Huawei phones are disappeared from the Android site, the company was excluded from the SD Association, Kirin chipset production is compromised byexclusion from ARM and so on.

But not only: even if one is in place extension until August 19, many companies and operators, both in Europe and in Asia, have however decided to ostracize Huawei. Not so much for legal reasons, but for the news itself of the ban that, now in circulation, is irremediably damaging the image of Huawei. As expected, the sales are down, since people are afraid to buy their products. Many of those who have a Huawei phone are asking, "What will happen to my smartphone?", Unaware of which is theactual situation updates. And now there is also talk of ousting Huawei from games for the 5G, when until the middle of May everything seemed to be centered on the Chinese giant.

Net of that, Huawei's position is to say the least poco difficult. As strong as Chinese patriotism is, Ren Zhengfei himself has expressed their own insecurities. He stated that, although the company is strong in its leadership in the sector, a choral action is needed for the normal continuation of the sector. In light of all this, many people have mobilized behind the hashtag on the net #supporthuawei. Especially in Italy, where the Huawei brand nowadays represents a large slice of the telephone market. Which side to stand, therefore, and above all why?

Donald Trump does not like China

Before launching into an analysis of the situation, it was necessary to explain the matter on both sides. Because even though I write for GizChina, a blog whose name already suggests that part of the world is propending, I have always kept to the rationality of my work. I have always written in an objective manner, precisely because I do not consider myself one of those users according to whom "Chinese is beautiful", regardless of everything. As long as we talk about topics that remain among us, passionate users of the Asian world, we can also afford some more subjective expressions. But in cases like these, where the outcome of things will inevitably affect the whole world, it is necessary to keep a mind as lucid as possible.

Everything has been read online: from those who give the hypocrite to China, which with its Great Firewall has blocked the West's access to its web, to those who accuse Trump of being a sinister manipulator who only thinks of American profit without thinking of the consequences. And as trivial as it may be, as usual the truth is in the middle. According to the document released by the US Department of Commerce, the reason for Huawei's ban is as follows:

"Huawei was added to the Entity List after the Department concluded that the company is engaged in activities contrary to the interests of national security or US foreign policy, including alleged violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), a conspiracy to violate IEEPA providing banned financial services to Iran and obstruction of justice in connection with investigations into alleged US sanctions, among other illegal activities."

No espionage, therefore, or industrial theft: Huawei's ban is tied to relations with Iran, apparently. A modus operandi that also led toarrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's CFO and Ren Zhengfei's own daughter. At this point you could probably be confused: is it a moral or merely economic confrontation? To give us an answer is the person concerned, or Donald Trump who, a few days ago he stated:

"Huawei is very dangerous. Look at what he did from the security point of view, from the military point of view, it is very dangerous. It is possible that Huawei is included in some kind of commercial agreement."

Far be it from me to judge the person, but you will agree with me that such a statement is rather bipolar. Huawei is dangerous because it has had to do with Iran but can a trade agreement be found at the same time? Can a problem like that linked to terrorism be bypassed in this way? It is enough to merge the points to see that the one we have before us is considerable yet another trade war. And it will be Ren, after 4 years of silence, to exclaim to journalists that Huawei's problem is to be "a sesame seed stuck in the clash between two nations".

Trade wars are not good for anyone

Historically speaking, this type of clash between nations has never helped either side. Just think of the Great Depression, with the Hoover administration imposing tariffs up to 59%, causing the collapse of world GDP. Or Nixon and Reagan and the duties imposed on steel. Or even the increase in duties by George W. Bush, which resulted in the loss of 200.000 jobs and an 30.4 million dollar decline in US GDP. History should teach but alas, there are those who, like Trump, are less receptive to this type of teaching. And while this new war on duties is underway, in the 2018 / 2019 Chinese manufacturers put the turbo, mostly Huawei which causes a dry record + 50 % overturning the market trend. At the same time, Apple drops -20%, while Google and other "western" producers such as Motorola and LG do not appear on telephony radars.

Seen in this way, that of the USA could look like a spite. "What China bananas Apple!Someone exclaimed, and not by chance. According to analysts, the Chinese ban would lead to a sharp drop in the -30% that, at a time not happy like this, they would not affect poco the image of Cupertino. But this is not the way to conflict resolution. And I'm not saying that, but Ren Zhengfei himself in one recent interviewBloomberg. "If China banished Apple, we would protest. If there were no Apple, there would be no telephony as we know it today. Apple is my teacher: as a student, I would never do such a thing. " Although they may seem words of fact, Ren's statements were not entirely peaceful. He has shown a certain dislike for Trump's behavior, considered too aggressive, but not to companies considered rivals. He also claimed to be willing to sign a contractNo Backdoor" with China and the rest of the world, in order to dispel any doubts about it.

In my opinion, it is not a war what the tech world needs and not, today more than ever. It is undeniable that the faults are on both sides, but a resolution of this kind, so impetuous, will lead to nothing but further problems. The progress of 5G will slow down, the electronic market will deteriorate and above all the already complicated trade and political relations between nations will get worse. Is this what we want? And then, where is Europe positioned in all this? Where do we position ourselves? Ok memes on Huawei vs USA, but now it's time to take a position, however uncomfortable it may be. As long as tangible evidence, a conviction will not sanction the guilt of Huawei to all the accusations made so far, it will be really difficult to judge and support what we are witnessing and all the consequences that will result. The world telephony market stands on giants like Huawei and a tabula rasa attempt by the tech world damages everyone. All that remains is to hope that at G20 the situation between the positions can relax.

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