Mon, May 13, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Trump is losing the fight to ban Huawei from global networks

With many countries ignoring the US’ call to boycott Huawei, the newly confident firm is planning to rebuild its presence in the US

By Todd Shields and Bill Allison  /  Bloomberg

Illustration: Yusha

US President Donald Trump’s worldwide campaign to blackball Huawei Technologies is looking like a failure.

Attempts to persuade other governments to exclude Huawei equipment from the next generation of super-fast mobile networks have hit a wall — even among close allies. So far, only a handful of countries, including Australia and Japan, have joined the US’ call to boycott the Chinese company.

Not a single European nation has done so, not even the UK, triggering a scolding from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in London on Wednesday.

“Now is the exact opposite time to go wobbly,” he said, invoking the famous locution that then-British prime minister Margaret Thatcher used to spur the US into sending troops to Kuwait after Iraq invaded it in 1990.

“Would she allow China to control the Internet of the future?” Pompeo added.

Huawei, meanwhile, is piling up record sales, forging into new markets, passing Apple as a phone maker and cementing its position as a leading global supplier of telecom gear.

Now, a newly confident Huawei is planning to rebuild its US presence after assuming a low profile the past few years. It put a seasoned insider, Joy Tan (譚喬伊), in charge of public affairs in the US, where it plans a print advertising campaign, amplified by social media, in coming months.

“It’s winning,” said Robert Spalding, a retired US Air Force brigadier general who was a strategist at the US National Security Council under Trump, and who has spoken out about the risks of letting China dominate new generation wireless technology.

The US does not seem able “to do anything that would fundamentally change things,” said Spalding, now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a policy group.

Not for lack of trying. The US for the past year has sent diplomats around the globe to beseech other countries to shun Huawei.

Among the accusations, it says Huawei can build backdoors into its equipment, enabling spying by the Chinese government and posing a security risk for the 5G mobile networks that are to connect billions of devices, from autonomous cars to robot-rich factories and home refrigerators.

The US also says that Chinese law compels Huawei to cooperate with Beijing’s espionage agencies, and that Huawei has stolen other companies’ intellectual property.

At the US’ request, Canada has since December last year held Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟) — the eldest daughter of its founder, Ren Zhengfei (任正非) — while the US seeks her extradition on charges of contravening Iran sanctions.

US Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat, on Thursday said that Huawei equipment was “extraordinarily dangerous,” especially with the arrival of 5G networks and the potential that undetectable malware could be uploaded at a future date, in addition to the company’s ties to the communist government.

Even telephone calls could be routed through China and information potentially collected by the Beijing government, he told reporters at a breakfast conversation.

“Most of our allies within the intelligence and security world realize this problem,” Warner said.

“I don’t think it’s too late” to stop Huawei’s advances in other countries, he said.

Also on Thursday, regulators rejected China Mobile’s bid to provide phone services in the US.

The US Federal Communications Commission cited national security concerns about the company controlled by Beijing, adding more friction to fraught trade relations between the world’s biggest economies.

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