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Huawei Announces HarmonyOS as Android Replacement

As the U.S.-China trade war continues, Huawei launches its Android replacement.

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The embattled Chinese technology company Huawei announced on Friday the launch of a new open-source mobile device operating system, HarmonyOS, to replace Google’s Android.

In June, reports emerged that Huawei began the process of trademarking its Android alternative HongMeng after Google revoked the company’s Android license after the Trump administration barred American companies from working with it. The new Huawei operating system will be known as HongMeng in China and HarmonyOS globally.

Today’s announcement was made Huawei executive director Richard Yu at the annual Huawei Developers Conference, held in the Chinese city of Dongguan.

Yu stated that apps developed for the operating system can be deployed “across a range of different devices,” including automobiles, smartwatches, and televisions. An industry investor attending the conference told Reuters that the operating system has promise given the sheer size of both the Chinese market and the Huawei developer community, which numbers more than 800,000.

Huawei’s announcement about HarmonyOS comes on the same day that Trump reaffirmed that the United States is “not going to do business with Huawei.” While Trump said that the ban on transactions with Huawei was full, sources at the U.S. Commerce Department told CNBC that Trump’s comments just concern U.S. government purchases, not those of the private sector, adding that the department is “still processing special licenses for companies to restart sales to Huawei.”

There appears to be no end in sight for the U.S.-China trade war. Last week, Trump threatened a 10 percent tariff on an additional $300 billion in Chinese imports by September. Beijing responded by ceasing the purchase of U.S. agricultural products. The longer the trade war goes on, the greater push there will be in China to create homegrown alternatives to foreign goods and services. Whether it’s artificial intelligence or fifth-generation or 5G cellular technology, China and its army of engineers have a track record that demonstrates their adaptability.

Arif Rafiq is the editor of Globely News and host of The Pivot podcast. He's contributed to publications such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the New Republic, and POLITICO Magazine, and has appeared on broadcast outlets such as Al Jazeera English, the BBC World Service, CNN International, and National Public Radio. Rafiq is also a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC.

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