Huawei, the Shenzhen, China-headquartered manufacturer of telecoms equipment is throwing in the towel and will no longer spend time, effort and money on trying to extend its limited presence in the US. The decision was announced by the usually elusive CEO of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, during an interview he gave to the French news site Les Echos. Talk about Chinese whispers! By Martyn Warwick.
The US authorities have long been very suspicious indeed about Huawei, its equipment, its links with the Chinese government and military and the continuing rumours about its involvement in cyber-espionage.
Huawei was always determined to get into US domestic networks market one way or another but has been stymied at almost every turn. And now the game is (seemingly) over, with Ren Zhengfei telling Les Echos that the company is "a private enterprise without any high-level political position. If Huawei gets in the middle of US-China relations it's not worth it. Therefore, we have decided to exit the US market, and not stay in the middle."
Just how much of this is just sour grapes or realpolitik dictated by the machinations of the Chinese government is unclear and remains to be seen.
However, in a rather more nuanced response from company HQ in Shenzhen, Huawei writes, "We remain committed to our customers, employees, investments, and operations and more than US$1 billion in sales in the US and we stand ready to deliver additional competition and innovative solutions as desired by customers and allowed by authorities."
In 2012 the US House Intelligence Committee wrote to Huawei detailing the many concerns of the American authorities in relation to alleged attempts by the company to spy-on and hack-into US comms networks.
Huawei maintained then, and continues to do so to this day, that it had not been, was not, and would not be involved in any such plans or actions. A White House investigation into the company followed and the conclusion was that there was no evidence and thus it could not be proven that Huawei has been involved in spying or attempted spying in the US.
Nonetheless, suspicions remain and the rumours continue - and now Huawei has taken its ball home in a sulk.
That said, Huawei does have a real presence in the handset market in the US but neither it nor ZTE (the other major Chinese comms infrastructure company) have won any significant network infrastructure projects in the US.
That is not the case in other parts of the world. For example, in Europe, Africa and the Middle East Huawei equipment is widely installed within many networks. That fact has caused some worry in some countries, not least in the UK.
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