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Huawei to Invest More Money in 5G as Row With U.S. Escalates

Chinese firm to focus on cyber security and privacy as tensions mount over U.S. blacklisting.

A Huawei official speaks on stage at the launch event for the Mate 8 smartphone on January 28, 2016. (Image Credit: Isriya Paireepairit)
A Huawei official speaks on stage at the launch event for the Mate 8 smartphone on January 28, 2016. (Image Credit: Isriya Paireepairit)

Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei released a press statement on Monday pledging to invest more money in fifth-generation or 5G cellular networks that it plans on building across the world. The announcement was made by Huawei Executive Director Ryan Ding at a meeting held in the city of Wuzhen.

Ding identified cybersecurity and privacy as top priorities of the company, saying that Huawei was committed to building a fully connected and intelligent world. In the statement to the media, the Chinese firm claimed that it had worked in a record 170 different countries over the past 30 years to provide a variety of trusted communications services.

The development comes amid escalating tensions between the United States and China over the future of Huawei. Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump placed the firm on a trade blacklist, effectively banning Huawei from doing business in the country. Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department had accused the firm of intellectual property theft.

Huawei has repeatedly denied the charges. Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou has also been fighting extradition to the U.S. from Canada in a case pertaining to Huawei defrauding the U.S. government by violating international sanctions on Iran. Wanzhou, referring to trade tensions between China and the U.S., claims the case is politically motivated.

There’s Good and Bad News for Huawei as Spat With the U.S. Escalates

News agency Reuters reported on Monday that Futurewei Technologies Inc., the U.S.-based research arm of Huawei, had separated operations from the Chinese firm. Huawei employees are no longer allowed inside Futurewei offices and the staff of the research firm has been instructed not to use the Huawei logo in communications.

According to Reuters, the separation is aimed at safeguarding research partnerships that Futurewei has with universities across the United States. These include Columbia University, Princeton University, and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, among others. These universities are rethinking their research partnerships in light of the Trump ban.

The research partnerships that Huawei and Futurewei have with U.S. universities are thought to be critical to the expanding operations of the company as they look to benefit from U.S. expertise in artificial intelligence, robotics, and communications. Data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office indicates that Futurewei has filed more than 2100 patents in many areas, including 5G, telecommunication, and camera technology.

However, the Chinese company has been investing heavily in research to overcome the technology gap with U.S. firms. According to a report in South China Morning Post, Huawei had a research budget of $14.2 billion last year, falling in between American tech giants Amazon and Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

Earlier last week, Huawei sued the U.S. government over the seizure of telecommunications equipment by American officials, reported Bloomberg. The Chinese claimed that they had been waiting two years for the U.S officials to determine whether the equipment required an export license to leave the United States.

On Monday, in another bizarre delivery spat, Chinese officials demanded an explanation from American courier delivery service FedEx over refusing to ship a Huawei package destined for the United States, reported Fox News. According to Reuters, an operational error resulted in the delay of the delivery.

In another sign of heightening tensions over Huawei, U.S. Federal Communications Commissioner Geoffrey Starks called for the removal of all Huawei gear from networks across the United States. Citing national security concerns, Starks said that foreign governments could disrupt U.S. communications networks in a national emergency.

However, it seems as if concerns about Huawei have not yet gone global. Last week, a government minister belonging to Hungary said that there was no evidence linking the 5G equipment Huawei was providing to a security threat. Reuters reports that Huawei has invested more than $1.2 billion in Hungary since 2005.

As the row with the U.S. escalates, it remains to be seen how U.S. allies respond to the Trump ban. Last month, the U.S. reportedly warned Britain about engaging in business deals with Huawei. In August 2018, Australia banned from operating in the country. However, Huawei’s inroads into South Asia hold the potential to offset push backs elsewhere.

Usman Kabir covers science, space, and technology for Globely News. As a kid, he would make models of the solar system and take part in water rocket competitions. His childhood obsession has led him to a degree in Space Science. Usman likes to spend his free time watching reruns of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Seinfeld."

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