Chinese tech company Huawei may not have expected to find itself embroiled in a proxy battle over geopolitical infringements. It has maintained its independence from the Chinese state amid accusations that the economic superpower could take control of the company.
Such reasoning has led Australia and the UK to pull out of deals to allow Huawei to build their telecommunications infrastructures, as security services said that China could demand access to sensitive information at any point.
Since then, Huawei Chairman Liang Hua has said that his company will not take such restrictions lightly but will not find itself facing a range of hurdles that it deems to be excessive if they begin to get in the way of profits.
Liang told the World Economic Forum this week that Huawei will move away from global partnerships and instead look at basing operations in nations ‘where we are welcomed.’ His speech in Davos, Switzerland came as many world leaders and luminaries gathered to discuss cooperation and solutions to a range of problems, including geopolitical standoffs and climate change.
Telling his audience that Huawei has always gone along with whichever restrictions and regulations exist in the countries that it operates in, Liang said that the events of the last few months could further isolate the phone and tech giant and see China begin to enact even more protectionist measures. The country is presently in the middle of a stand-off with the US over trade disputes, and the handling of this sensitive issue has faced criticism from both sides.
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Huawei is one of the world leaders in producing and delivering 5G network capability, and it has been the first choice for many companies that wanted to roll out the latest and best connectivity supply. However, concerns about China’s possible intrusion into sovereign state telecommunications is a security issue that some nations could not easily resolve if they went with Huawei’s services.
Now, other countries have joined the growing list of those voicing concerns about the future impact of any initial deal with Huawei. Germany and Canada agree with the UK and Australia, and Huawei is not able to carry out any US government contracts because of the current disputes between the US and Chinese governments.
The US intelligence service has said that Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, has links to China’s Communist Party. This has raised fears that the company could open avenues for the Chinese state to gain access to certain data.
As Huawei is a private company owned by its employees, it continues to insist that it only answers to them. It has a £3bn investment in the UK and said that it has no intentions of walking away from this. The forum in Davos gave journalists the opportunity to talk to Liang, who is known to be secretive and does not often grant access for interviews.
At a time of unprecedented intrusion into the dealings of Huawei, Liang said that the company would consider the feasibility of whether it could ‘transfer the technology partnership to countries where we are welcomed and where we can have collaboration with.’ He also noted that Huawei does not expect issues with telecoms to affect its ability to sell phones and devices to individuals.