As The Trade War Heats Up, Huawei Cools Down

Published on May 26, 2019

Huawei has been at the center of the trade war between the United States and China for quite some time now. As Trump threatens greater regulations on trade between the U.S. and China, Huawei has had to face a reality where its ties to American tech are in grave danger. Google and Microsoft have opted to ban the use of their softwares and technologies with Huawei devices. As many of the devices use Android, this means that Huawei will have to prepare to install an entirely new operating system, as well as explaining to its users why they won’t be able to access Google and other Google services (like email) from their Huawei phones.

Huawei’s Long History With The United States

After the CFO of the company was arrested in Canada by order of the United States, things between the company and the trade war really began heating up. Meng Wanzhou was arrested on conspiracy to defraud financial institutions as well as in connection to illegally selling U.S. made computer equipment to Iran. The use of U.S. made computer equipment in Iran is illegal because of the heavy sanctions imposed by the U.S. government in the embargo against the middle eastern country.

China quickly got involved with Wanzhou’s arrest, warning that there would be retaliations against the United States if Canada didn’t agree to release her immediately. The United States has been trying to get its hands on Wanzhou since 2013, when the Huawei CFO allegedly used her power within the company to try and convince Hong Kong bankers that Huawei and SkyCom, the company that sold the tech to Iran, were not associated with one another. Spoiler alert, they were, and now Wanzhou is facing the consequences of attempting to defraud a financial institution.

But Huawei’s troubles go beyond their relationship with Wanzhou. The company’s tech products have long been banned in the United States, as well as other countries like New Zealand, because it’s a privately owned Chinese tech company. This puts the company at risk of breaching national security if the Chinese government were to ask for any phone records of its device users. In particular, anyone with a government job in the United States is not allowed to have or use a Huawei phone.

Google and Microsoft

As things between China and the United States heat up, relationships between Chinese and American companies are forced to come to an end. Huawei has been a longtime user of Android operating systems in its smart phones, but that could come to an end as new sanctions mean that Google has terminated its relationship with the Chinese phone maker. A temporary license has been issued to Huawei, allowing the company to use Google’s Android softwares in its phones. Microsoft, on the other hand, has removed Huawei laptops from the Microsoft online stores.

If Huawei loses its license with Google once and for all, it would mean that its users won’t be able to access things like Gmail, Google, Android, or any other Google-owned service in the tech industry. This could mean an end for the company, as consumers aren’t likely to purchase a phone that can’t access basic services. However, if China and the United States come to an agreement, it may mean that these issues are avoided altogether.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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