At its founding in 1987, Huawei was established as a collectively-owned enterprise. Collectively-owned enterprises were an intermediary corporate ownership status between state-owned enterprises and private businesses. The Chinese government began issuing licenses for private businesses starting in 1992.
Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (/ˈhwɑːweɪ/ HWAH-way; Chinese: 华为; pinyin: Huáwéi ) is a Chinese multinational technology corporation headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong. It designs, develops, manufactures and sells telecommunications equipment, consumer electronics, smart devices and various rooftop solar products. The corporation was founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, a former officer in the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
Ren Zhengfei, a former deputy director of the People's Liberation Army engineering corps, founded Huawei in 1987 in Shenzhen. The company reports that it had RMB 21,000 (about $5,000 at the time) in registered capital from Ren Zhengfei and five other investors at the time of its founding where each contributed RMB 3,500. These five initial investors gradually withdrew their investments in Huawei. The Wall Street Journal has suggested, however, that Huawei received approximately "$46 billion in loans and other support, coupled with $25 billion in tax cuts" since the Chinese government had a vested interest in fostering a company to compete against Apple and Samsung.
In order to grow despite difficult competition from Alcatel, Lucent, and Nortel Networks, in 1992 Huawei focused on low-income and difficult to access market niches. Huawei's sales force traveled from village to village in underdeveloped regions, gradually moving into more developed areas.
The company's first major breakthrough came in 1993 when it launched its C&C08 program controlled telephone switch. It was by far the most powerful switch available in China at the time. By initially deploying in small cities and rural areas and placing emphasis on service and customizability, the company gained market share and made its way into the mainstream market.
Huawei also won a key contract to build the first national telecommunications network for the People's Liberation Army, a deal one employee described as "small in terms of our overall business, but large in terms of our relationships". In 1994, founder Ren Zhengfei had a meeting with General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Jiang Zemin, telling him that "switching equipment technology was related to national security, and that a nation that did not have its own switching equipment was like one that lacked its own military." Jiang reportedly agreed with this assessment.
Another major turning point for the company came in 1996 when the government in Beijing adopted an explicit policy of supporting domestic telecommunications manufacturers and restricting access to foreign competitors. Huawei was promoted by both the government and the military as a national champion, and established new research and development offices.
In 1997, Huawei won a contract to provide fixed-line network products to Hong Kong company Hutchison Whampoa. Later that year, Huawei launched wireless GSM-based products and eventually expanded to offer CDMA and UMTS. In 1999, the company opened a research and development (R&D) centre in Bengaluru, India to develop a wide range of telecom software.
In May 2003, Huawei partnered with 3Com on a joint venture known as H3C, which was focused on enterprise networking equipment. It marked 3Com's re-entrance into the high-end core routers and switch market, after having abandoned it in 2000 to focus on other businesses. 3Com bought out Huawei's share of the venture in 2006 for US$882 million.
Huawei has been accused of intellectual property theft. In February 2003, Cisco Systems sued Huawei Technologies for allegedly infringing on its patents and illegally copying source code used in its routers and switches. By July 2004, Huawei removed the contested code, manuals and command-line interfaces and the case was subsequently settled out of court. As part of the settlement Huawei admitted that it had copied some of Cisco's router software.
In July 2003, Huawei established their handset department and by 2004, Huawei shipped their first phone, the C300. The U626 was Huawei's first 3G phone in June 2005 and in 2006, Huawei launched the first Vodafone-branded 3G handset, the V710. The U8220 was Huawei's first Android smartphone and was unveiled in MWC 2009. At CES 2012, Huawei introduced the Ascend range starting with the Ascend P1 S. At MWC 2012, Huawei launched the Ascend D1. In September 2012, Huawei launched their first 4G ready phone, the Ascend P1 LTE. At CES 2013, Huawei launched the Ascend D2 and the Ascend Mate. At MWC 2013, the Ascend P2 was launched as the world's first LTE Cat4 smartphone. In June 2013, Huawei launched the Ascend P6 and in December 2013, Huawei introduced Honor as a subsidiary independent brand in China. At CES 2014, Huawei launched the Ascend Mate2 4G in 2014 and at MWC 2014, Huawei launched the MediaPad X1 tablet and Ascend G6 4G smartphone. Other launched in 2014 included the Ascend P7 in May 2014, the Ascend Mate7, the Ascend G7 and the Ascend P7 Sapphire Edition as China's first 4G smartphone with a sapphire screen.
Brian Shields, former chief security officer at Nortel, said that his company was compromised in 2004 by Chinese hackers; executive credentials were accessed remotely, and entire computers were taken over. Shields does not believe Huawei was directly involved but thinks that Huawei was a beneficiary of the hack. Documents taken included product roadmaps, sales proposals, and technical papers. Nortel sought for but failed to receive help from the RCMP. The CSIS said it approached the company but was rebuffed.
In 2004, Huawei signed a $10 billion credit line with China Development Bank to provide low-cost financing to customers buying its telecommunications equipment to support its sales outside of China. This line of credit was tripled to $30 billion in 2009.
In 2005, Huawei's foreign contract orders exceeded its domestic sales for the first time. Huawei signed a global framework agreement with Vodafone. This agreement marked the first time a telecommunications equipment supplier from China had received Approved Supplier status from Vodafone Global Supply Chain.
In 2007, Huawei began a joint venture with US security software vendor Symantec Corporation, known as Huawei Symantec, which aimed to provide end-to-end solutions for network data storage and security. Huawei bought out Symantec's share in the venture in 2012, with The New York Times noting that Symantec had fears that the partnership "would prevent it from obtaining United States government classified information about cyber threats".
In May 2008, Australian carrier Optus announced that it would establish a technology research facility with Huawei in Sydney. In October 2008, Huawei reached an agreement to contribute to a new GSM-based HSPA+ network being deployed jointly by Canadian carriers Bell Mobility and Telus Mobility, joined by Nokia Siemens Networks. Huawei delivered one of the world's first LTE/EPC commercial networks for TeliaSonera in Oslo, Norway in 2009. Norway-based telecommunications Telenor instead selected Ericsson due to security concerns with Huawei.
Huawei Marine Networks delivered the HANNIBAL submarine communications cable system for Tunisie Telecom across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy in 2009.
In 2014, Der Spiegel and The New York Times reported that, according to global surveillance disclosures, the National Security Agency (NSA) infiltrated Huawei's computer network in 2009. The White House intelligence coordinator and the FBI were also involved. The operation obtained Huawei's customer list and internal training documents. In addition, the company's central email archive was accessed, including messages from founder Ren Zhengfei and chairwoman Sun Yafang. So much data was gathered that "we don't know what to do with it", according to one document. The NSA was concerned that Huawei's infrastructure could provide China with signals intelligence capabilities. It also wanted to find ways to exploit the company's products because they are used by targets of interest to the NSA.
Between December 2018 and January 2019, German and British intelligence agencies initially pushed back against the US' allegations, stating that after examining Huawei's 5G hardware and accompanying source code, they have found no evidence of malevolence and that a ban would therefore be unwarranted. Additionally, the head of Britain's National Cyber Security Centre (the information security arm of GCHQ) stated that the US has not managed to provide the UK with any proof of its allegations against Huawei and also their agency had concluded that any risks involving Huawei in UK's telecom networks are "manageable". The Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC), set up in 2010 to assuage security fears as it examined Huawei hardware and software for the UK market, was staffed largely by employees from Huawei but with regular oversight from GCHQ, which led to questions of operating independence from Huawei. On 1 October 2020, an official report released by National Cyber Security Centre noted that "Huawei has failed to adequately tackle security flaws in equipment used in the UK's telecoms networks despite previous complaints", and flagged one vulnerability of "national significance" related to broadband in 2019. The report concluded that Huawei was not confident of implementing the five-year plan of improving its software engineering processes, so there was "limited assurance that all risks to UK national security" could be mitigated in the long-term. On 14 July 2020, the United Kingdom Government announced a ban on the use of company's 5G network equipment, citing security concerns. In October 2020, the British Defence Select Committee announced that it had found evidence of Huawei's collusion with the Chinese state and that it supported accelerated purging of Huawei equipment from Britain's telecom infrastructure by 2025, since they concluded that Huawei had "engaged in a variety of intelligence, security, and intellectual property activities" despite its repeated denials. In November 2020, Huawei challenged the UK government's decision, citing an Oxford Economics report that it had contributed £3.3 billion to the UK's GDP.
Huawei disclosed its list of board of directors for the first time in 2010. Liang Hua is the current chair of the board. As of 2019 , the members of the board are Liang Hua, Guo Ping, Xu Zhijun, Hu Houkun, Meng Wanzhou (CFO and deputy chairwoman), Ding Yun, Yu Chengdong, Wang Tao, Xu Wenwei, Shen-Han Chiu, Chen Lifang, Peng Zhongyang, He Tingbo, Li Yingtao, Ren Zhengfei, Yao Fuhai, Tao Jingwen, and Yan Lida.
The Wall Street Journal has suggested that Huawei received approximately "$46 billion in loans and other support, coupled with $25 billion in tax cuts" since the Chinese government had a vested interest in fostering a company to compete against Apple and Samsung. In particular, China's state-owned banks such as the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China make loans to Huawei customers which substantially undercut competitors' financing with lower interest and cash in advance, with China Development Bank providing a credit line totaling US$30 billion between 2004 and 2009. In 2010, the European Commission launched an investigation into China's subsidies that distorted global markets and harmed European vendors, and Huawei offered the initial complainant US$56 million to withdraw the complaint in an attempt to shut down the investigation. Then-European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht found that Huawei leveraged state support to underbid competitors by up to 70 percent.
In July 2010, Huawei was included in the Global Fortune 500 2010 list published by the US magazine Fortune for the first time, on the strength of annual sales of US$21.8 billion and net profit of US$2.67 billion.
Huawei entered the photovoltaic (PV) market in 2011, and opened an Energy Center of Competence in Nuremberg, Germany the same year. In September 2016, Huawei integrated new manufacturing capabilities into its Eindhoven hub in the Netherlands, where it can produce 7,000 inverter units per month. In October that same year, Huawei entered the North American market and formed a strategic partnership with Strata Solar. In April 2017, Huawei enters the residential solar market with the launch of its string solar inverters and DC power optimizers.
In 2011, a report by the Open Source Enterprise detailed its "suspicions over potential close links between Huawei and the Chinese Government," such as former chairwoman Sun Yafang's prior employment by the Ministry of State Security (MSS)'s Communications Department.
Yale University economist Stephen Roach states that there is no hard evidence to support the key allegations regarding a backdoor for industrial espionage. Roach writes that there is a single documented instance of Huawei-installed software having an arguable backdoor: European telecom Vodafone disclosed in 2011 that its Italian fixed line network contained a security vulnerability in its Huawei-installed software. Huawei fixed the vulnerability at Vodafone's request. There was no report of any suspicious data capture or systems control activity. Vodafone was satisfied with the outcome and thereafter increased its reliance on Huawei as an equipment-supplier.
Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. was the world's largest telecom equipment maker in 2012 and China's largest telephone-network equipment maker. With 3,442 patents, Huawei became the world's No. 1 applicant for international patents in 2014. In 2019, Huawei had the second most patents granted by the European Patent Office. In 2021, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)'s annual World Intellectual Property Indicators report ranked Huawei's number of patent applications published under the PCT System as 1st in the world, with 5464 patent applications being published during 2020.
Initially focused on manufacturing phone switches, Huawei has expanded to more than 170 countries to include building telecommunications networks, providing operational and consulting services and equipment, and manufacturing communications devices for the consumer market. It overtook Ericsson in 2012 as the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world. Huawei surpassed Apple and Samsung, in 2018 and 2020, respectively, to become the largest smartphone manufacturer worldwide. Amidst its rise, Huawei has been accused of intellectual property infringement, for which it has settled with companies like Cisco.
Michael Wessel, a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, was quoted as saying “If there’s a locksmith who’s installing more and more locks on the doors in a community and suddenly there’s a rash of silent robberies, at some point the locksmith becomes a person of interest. Huawei around that time became a significant entity of interest". A report from Bloomberg News stated that Australian intelligence in 2012 detected a backdoor in the country's telecom network and shared its findings with the United States, who reported similar hacks. It was reportedly caused by a software update from Huawei carrying malicious code that transmitted data to China before deleting itself. Investigators managed to reconstruct the exploit and determined that Huawei technicians must have pushed the update through the network on behalf of China's spy agencies. Huawei said updates would have required authorization from the customer and that no tangible evidence was presented. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the accusation a "slander". Australian telecom operators Optus and Vodafone disputed that they were compromised. In addition, senior security officials in Uganda and Zambia admitted that Huawei played key roles enabling their governments to spy on political opponents. Inside the African Union headquarters, whose computer systems were supplied by Huawei and paid for by the Chinese government, IT staff discovered that data transfers on its servers peaked after hours from January 2012 to January 2017, with the African Union's internal data sent to unknown servers hosted in Shanghai. In May 2019, a Huawei Mediapad M5 belonging to a Canadian IT engineer living in Taiwan was found to be sending data to servers in China despite never being authorized to do so, as the apps could not be disabled and continued to send sensitive data even after appearing to be deleted. At the end of 2019, United States officials disclosed to the United Kingdom and Germany that Huawei has had the ability to covertly exploit backdoors intended for law enforcement officials since 2009, as these backdoors are found on carrier equipment like antennas and routers, and Huawei's equipment is widely used around the world due to its low cost. The United Kingdom established a lab that it ran, but which was paid for by Huawei, to evaluate Huawei equipment. After eight years of study, the lab did not identify any Huawei backdoor, but concluded that Huawei's equipment had bugs that could be exploited by hackers.
The company has faced difficulties in some countries arising from concerns that its equipment may enable surveillance by the Chinese government due to perceived connections with the country's military and intelligence agencies. Huawei has argued that critics such as the US government have not shown evidence of espionage. Experts say that China's 2014 Counter-Espionage Law and 2017 National Intelligence Law can compel Huawei and other companies to cooperate with state intelligence. In 2012, Australian and US intelligence agencies concluded that a hack on Australia's telecom networks was conducted by or through Huawei, although the two network operators have disputed that information.
In October 2012, it was announced that Huawei would move its UK headquarters to Green Park, Reading, Berkshire.
In 2013, Taiwan blocked mobile network operators and government departments from using Huawei equipment.
In 2019, Henry Jackson Society researchers conducted an analysis of 25,000 Huawei employee CVs and found that some had worked or trained with China's Ministry of State Security, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), its academies, and a military unit accused of hacking US corporations, including 11 alumni from a PLA information engineering school. One of the study researchers says this shows "a strong relationship between Huawei and all levels of the Chinese state, Chinese military and Chinese intelligence. This to me appears to be a systemized, structural relationship." In a report by academics Christopher Balding of Fulbright University and Donald C. Clarke of George Washington University, a person "simultaneously held a position at Huawei and a teaching and research role at a military university through which they were employed by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army...a section in the PLA that is responsible for the Chinese military’s space, cyber, and electronic warfare capabilities". Charles Parton, a British diplomat, said this "give the lie to Huawei's claim that there is no evidence that they help the Chinese intelligence services. This gun is smoking." Huawei said that while it does not work on Chinese military or intelligence projects, it is no secret that some employees have a previous government background. It criticized the report's speculative language such as ‘believes’, ‘infers’, and ‘cannot rule out’. In 2014, the National Security Agency penetrated Huawei's corporate networks in China to search for links between the company and the People's Liberation Army. It was able to monitor accounts belonging to Huawei employees and its founder Ren Zhengfei.
In January 2015, Huawei discontinued the "Ascend" brand for its flagship phones, and launched the new P series with the Huawei P8. Huawei also partnered with Google to build the Nexus 6P which was released in September 2015.
The Huawei Watch is an Android Wear-based smartwatch developed by Huawei. It was released at Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin on 2 September 2015. It is the first smartwatch produced by Huawei. Their latest watch, the Huawei Watch GT 2e, was launched in India in May 2020.
In 2016, German camera company Leica has established a partnership with Huawei, and Leica cameras will be co-engineered into Huawei smartphones, including the P and Mate Series. The first smartphone to be co-engineered with a Leica camera was the Huawei P9.
In 2016, Huawei entered the laptop markets with the release of its Huawei MateBook series of laptops. They have continued to release laptop models in this series into 2020 with their most recent models being the MateBook X Pro and Matebook 13 2020.
Experts have pointed out that under Xi Jinping's "intensifying authoritarianism [since] Beijing promulgated a new national intelligence law" in 2017, as well as the 2014 Counter-Espionage Law, both of which are vaguely defined and far-reaching. The two laws "[compel] Chinese businesses to work with Chinese intelligence and security agencies whenever they are requested to do so", suggesting that Huawei or other domestic major technology companies could not refuse to cooperate with Chinese intelligence. Jerome Cohen, a New York University law professor and Council on Foreign Relations adjunct senior fellow stated "Not only is this mandated by existing legislation but, more important, also by political reality and the organizational structure and operation of the Party-State’s economy. The Party is embedded in Huawei and controls it". One former Huawei employee said "The state wants to use Huawei, and it can use it if it wants. Everyone has to listen to the state. Every person. Every company and every individual, and you can't talk about it. You can't say you don't like it. That's just China." The new cybersecurity law also requires domestic companies, and eventually foreign subsidiaries, to use state-certified network equipment and software so that their data and communications are fully visible to China's Cybersecurity Bureau. University of Nottingham's Martin Thorley has suggested that Huawei would have no recourse to oppose the CCP's request in court, since the party controls the police, the media, the judiciary and the government. Klon Kitchen has suggested that 5G dominance is essential to China in order to achieve its vision where "the prosperity of state-run capitalism is combined with the stability and security of technologically enabled authoritarianism".
In 2017, a jury found that Huawei had misappropriated trade secrets of T-Mobile US but awarded damages only for a breach of supplier contract; it did not compensate T-Mobile for claims of espionage.
In September 2017, Huawei created a Narrowband IoT city-aware network using a "one network, one platform, N applications" construction model utilizing 'Internet of things' (IoT), cloud computing, big data, and other next-generation information and communications technology, it also aims to be one of the world's five largest cloud players in the near future.
By 2018, Huawei had sold 200 million smartphones. They reported that strong consumer demand for premium range smart phones helped the company reach consumer sales in excess of $52 billion in 2018.
Huawei has been at the center of concerns over Chinese involvement in 5G wireless networks. In 2018, the United States passed a defense funding bill that contained a passage barring the federal government from doing business with Huawei, ZTE, and several Chinese vendors of surveillance products, due to security concerns. The Chinese government has threatened economic retaliation against countries that block Huawei's market access.
Huawei has settled with Cisco Systems, Motorola, and PanOptis in patent infringement lawsuits. In 2018, a German court ruled against Huawei and ZTE in favor of MPEG LA, which holds patents related to Advanced Video Coding.
In 2018, Japan banned Huawei from receiving government contracts.
It has been observed that the Chinese government has granted Huawei much more comprehensive support than other domestic companies facing troubles abroad, such as ByteDance, since Huawei is considered a "national champion" along with Alibaba Group and Tencent. For instance after Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was detained in Canada pending extradition to the United States for fraud charges, China immediately arrested Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in what was widely viewed as "hostage diplomacy". China has also imposed tariffs on Australian imports in 2020, in apparent retaliation for Huawei and ZTE being excluded from Australia's 5G network in 2018. In June 2020, when the UK mulled reversing an earlier decision to permit Huawei's participation in 5G, China threatened retaliation in other sectors by withholding investments in power generation and high-speed rail. A House of Commons defence committee found that "Beijing had exerted pressure through "covert and overt threats" to keep Huawei in the UK's 5G network". US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reassured the UK saying "the US stands with our allies and partners against the Chinese Communist Party's coercive bullying tactics," and "the US stands ready to assist our friends in the UK with any needs they have, from building secure and reliable nuclear power plants to developing trusted 5G solutions that protect their citizens' privacy".
In May 2018, Huawei stated that they will no longer allow unlocking the bootloader of their phones to allow installing third party system software or security updates after Huawei stops them.
In August 2018, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA 2019) was signed into law, containing a provision that banned Huawei and ZTE equipment from being used by the US federal government, citing security concerns. Huawei filed a lawsuit over the act in March 2019, alleging it to be unconstitutional because it specifically targeted Huawei without granting it a chance to provide a rebuttal or due process.
Huawei is considering opening a new research and development (R&D) center in Russia (2019/2020), which would be the third in the country after the Moscow and St. Petersburg R&D centers. Huawei also announced plans (November 2018) to open an R&D center in the French city of Grenoble, which would be mainly focused on smartphone sensors and parallel computing software development. The new R&D team in Grenoble was expected to grow to 30 researchers by 2020, said the company. The company said that this new addition brought to five the number of its R&D teams in the country: two were located in Sophia Antipolis and Paris, researching image processing and design, while the other two existing teams were based at Huawei's facilities in Boulogne-Billancourt, working on algorithms and mobile and 5G standards. The technology giant also intended to open two new research centers in Zürich and Lausanne, Switzerland. Huawei at the time employed around 350 people in Switzerland.
Similarly in November 2018, New Zealand blocked Huawei from supplying mobile equipment to national telecommunications company Spark New Zealand's 5G network, citing a "significant network security risk" and concerns about China's National Intelligence Law.
On December 1, 2018, Meng Wanzhou, the board deputy chairperson and daughter of the founder of the Chinese multinational technology corporation Huawei, was detained upon arrival at Vancouver International Airport by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers for questioning, which lasted three hours. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police subsequently arrested her on a provisional U.S. extradition request for fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud in order to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran. On January 28, 2019, the United States Department of Justice formally announced financial fraud charges against Meng. The first stage of the extradition hearing for Meng began Monday, January 20, 2020, and concluded on May 27, 2020, when the Supreme Court of British Columbia ordered the extradition to proceed.
After the US sanctions regime started in summer 2018, Huawei started working on its own in-house operating system codenamed "HongMeng OS": in an interview with Die Welt, executive Richard Yu stated in 2019 that an in-house OS could be used as a "plan B" if it were prevented from using Android or Windows as the result of US action. Huawei filed trademarks for the names "Ark", "Ark OS", and "Harmony" in Europe, which were speculated to be connected to this OS. On 9 August 2019, Huawei officially unveiled Harmony OS at its inaugural HDC developers' conference in Dongguan with the ARK compiler which can be used to port Android APK packages to the OS.
Before the 15 September 2020 deadline, Huawei was in "survival mode" and stockpiled "5G mobile processors, Wifi, radio frequency and display driver chips and other components" from key chip suppliers and manufacturers, including Samsung, SK Hynix, TSMC, MediaTek, Realtek, Novatek, and RichWave. Even in 2019, Huawei spent $23.45 billion on the stockpiling of chips and other supplies in 2019, up 73% from 2018.
Huawei classifies itself as a "collective" entity and prior to 2019 did not refer to itself as a private company. Richard McGregor, author of The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers, said that this is "a definitional distinction that has been essential to the company's receipt of state support at crucial points in its development". McGregor argued that "Huawei's status as a genuine collective is doubtful." Huawei's position has shifted in 2019 when, Dr. Song Liuping, Huawei's chief legal officer, commented on the US government ban, said: "Politicians in the US are using the strength of an entire nation to come after a private company." (emphasis added).
In 2019, Huawei reported revenue of US$122 billion. By the second quarter of 2020, Huawei had become the world's top smartphone seller, overtaking Samsung for the first time. In 2021, Huawei was ranked the second-largest R&D investor in the world by the EU Joint Research Centre (JRC) in its EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard and ranked fifth in the world in US patents according to a report by Fairview Research's IFI Claims Patent Services.
In 2019, Ren Zhengfei stated "we never participate in espionage and we do not allow any of our employees to do any act like that. And we absolutely never install backdoors. Even if we were required by Chinese law, we would firmly reject that". Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was quoted saying "the Chinese government did not and will not ask Chinese companies to spy on other countries, such kind of action is not consistent with the Chinese law and is not how China behaves." Huawei has cited the opinion of Zhong Lun Law Firm, co-signed by a CCP member, whose lawyers testified to the FCC that the National Intelligence Law doesn't apply to Huawei. The opinion of Zhong Lun lawyers, reviewed by British law firm Clifford Chance, has been distributed widely by Huawei as an "independent legal opinion", although Clifford Chance added a disclaimer stated that "the material should not be construed as constituting a legal opinion on the application of PRC law". Follow up reporting from Wired cast doubt on the findings of Zhong Lun, particularly because the Chinese "government doesn't limit itself to what the law explicitly allows" when it comes to national security. "All Chinese citizens and organisations are obliged to cooperate upon request with PRC intelligence operations—and also maintain the secrecy of such operations", as explicitly stipulated in Article 7 of the 2017 PRC national intelligence-gathering activities law. Tim Rühlig, a Research Fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, observed that "Not least in the light of the lack of the rule of law in China, but also given the clarity of the Intelligence Law, this legal opinion [by Clifford Chance] does not provide any substantial reassurance that Huawei could decline to cooperate with Chinese intelligence, even if the company wanted to do so".
In 2019, Vietnam left Huawei out of bids to build the country's 5G network out of national security concerns.
In August 2023, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), a US trade association, alleged that Huawei was building a collection of secret semiconductor-fabrication facilities across China, a shadow manufacturing network that would let the company skirt US sanctions. Huawei was receiving an estimated $30 billion in state funding from the government at the time and had acquired at least two existing plants, with plans to construct at least three others. The United States Department of Commerce had put Huawei on its entity list in 2019, eventually "prohibiting it from working with American companies in almost all circumstances." However, if Huawei were to function under the names of other companies without disclosing its own involvement, it might have been able to circumvent those restrictions to "indirectly purchase American chipmaking equipment and other supplies that would otherwise be prohibited."
Leaked documents obtained by The Washington Post in 2019 raised questions about whether Huawei conducted business secretly with North Korea, which was under numerous US sanctions.
In March 2019, Huawei filed three defamation claims over comments suggesting ties to the Chinese government made on television by a French researcher, a broadcast journalist and a telecommunications sector expert. In June 2020 ANSSI informed French telecommunications companies that they would not be allowed to renew licenses for 5G equipment made from Huawei after 2028. On 28 August 2020, French President Emmanuel Macron assured the Chinese government that it did not ban Huawei products from participating in its fifth-generation mobile roll-out, but favored European providers for security reasons. The head of the France's cybersecurity agency also stated that it has granted time-limited waivers on 5G for wireless operators that use Huawei products, a decision that likely started a "phasing out" of the company's products.
In April 2019, Huawei established the Huawei Malaysia Global Training Centre (MGTC) at Cyberjaya, Malaysia.
Additionally, on 15 May 2019, the Department of Commerce added Huawei and 70 foreign subsidiaries and "affiliates" to its Entity List under the Export Administration Regulations, citing the company having been indicted for "knowingly and willfully causing the export, re-export, sale and supply, directly and indirectly, of goods, technology and services (banking and other financial services) from the United States to Iran and the government of Iran without obtaining a license from the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)". This restricts US companies from doing business with Huawei without a government license. Various US-based companies immediately froze their business with Huawei to comply with the regulation.
The May 2019 ban on Huawei was partial: it did not affect most non-American produced chips, and the Trump administration granted a series of extensions on the ban in any case, with another 90-day reprieve issued in May 2020. In May 2020, the US extended the ban to cover semiconductors customized for Huawei and made with US technology. In August 2020, the US again extended the ban to a blanket ban on all semiconductor sales to Huawei. The blanket ban took effect in September 2020.
In the midst of a trade war between China and the United States, the US government alleged that Huawei had violated sanctions against Iran and restricted it from doing business with American companies. In June 2019, Huawei cut jobs at its Santa Clara research center, and in December Ren Zhengfei said it was moving to Canada. In 2020, Huawei agreed to sell the Honor brand to a state-owned enterprise of the Shenzhen government to "ensure its survival" under US sanctions. In November 2022, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) banned sales or import of equipment made by Huawei out of national security concerns. Other countries such as India, Japan, members of the Five Eyes, and ten European Union states have also banned or restricted Huawei products.
The sanctions regime established in September 2020 negatively affected Huawei production, sales and financial projections. However, on 29 June 2019 at the G20 summit, the US President made statements implicating plans to ease the restrictions on US companies doing business with Huawei. Despite this statement, on 15 May 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce extended its export restrictions to bar Huawei from producing semiconductors derived from technology or software of US origin, even if the manufacturing is performed overseas. In June 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated Huawei a national security threat, thereby barring it from any US subsidies. In July 2020, the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council published a Federal Register notice prohibiting all federal government contractors from selling Huawei hardware to the federal government and preventing federal contractors from using Huawei hardware.
In August 2019, Huawei collaborated with eyewear company Gentle Monster and released smartglasses. In November 2019, Huawei partners with Devialet and unveiled a new specifically designed speaker, the Sound X. In October 2020, Huawei released its own mapping service, Petal Maps, which was developed in partnership with Dutch navigation device manufacturer TomTom.
On 9 August 2019, Huawei officially unveiled Harmony OS at its inaugural developers' conference HDC in Dongguan. Huawei described Harmony as a free, microkernel-based distributed operating system for various types of hardware, with faster inter-process communication than QNX or Google's "Fuchsia" microkernel, and real-time resource allocation. The ARK compiler can be used to port Android APK packages to the OS. Huawei stated that developers would be able to "flexibly" deploy Harmony OS software across various device categories; the company focused primarily on IoT devices, including "smart displays", wearable devices, and in-car entertainment systems, and did not explicitly position Harmony OS as a mobile OS.
In September 2019, Huawei began offering the Linux distribution Deepin as a pre-loaded operating system on selected Matebook models in China.
The "optics of Beijing's diplomats coming to [Huawei]'s defense" in the European Union has also contradicted Huawei's claims that it is "fully independent from the Chinese government". In November 2019, the Chinese ambassador to Denmark, in meetings with high-ranking Faroese politicians, directly linked Huawei's 5G expansion with Chinese trade, according to a sound recording obtained by Kringvarp Føroya. According to Berlingske, the ambassador threatened with dropping a planned trade deal with the Faroe Islands, if the Faroese telecom company Føroya Tele did not let Huawei build the national 5G network. Huawei said they did not knоw about the meetings. China's ambassador to Germany, Wu Ken, warned that ‘there will be consequences’ if Huawei was excluded, and floated the "possibility of German cars being banned on safety grounds".
The Huawei MatePad Pro, launched in November 2019. Huawei is number one in the Chinese tablet market and number two globally as of 4Q 2019.
Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) is Huawei's solution to GMS (Google Mobile services), it was created to work over Android System, so Android applications can work over Huawei HMS Mobile phones, if those don't use Google Mobile Services. HMS is part of Huawei ecosystem which Huawei developed complete solutions for several scenarios. One of their major application is called Huawei AppGallery, which is Huawei app store created as a competitor to Google's Android Play Store. As of December 2019 it was in version 4.0 and as of 16 January 2020 the company reports it has signed up 55,000 apps using its HMS Core software.
Cheaper handsets fall under its Honor brand. Honor was created in order to elevate Huawei-branded phones as premium offerings. In 2020, Huawei agreed to sell the Honor brand to a state-owned enterprise of the Shenzhen municipal government. Consequently, Honor was initially reported to be cut off from access to Huawei's IPs, which consists of more than 100,000 active patents by the end of 2020, and additionally cannot tap into Huawei's large R&D resources where $20 billion had been committed for 2021. However, Wired magazine noted in 2021 that Honor devices still had not differentiated their software much from Huawei phones and that core apps and certain engineering features, like the Honor-engineered camera features looked "virtually identical' across both phones.
In October 2022, the UK extended the deadline by a year to the end of 2023 for removing core Huawei equipment from network functions. The ban, originally announced in 2020 following US pressure, calls for the phasing out of all Huawei gear from UK's 5G network by the end of 2027, which remains unchanged.
In February 2020, US government officials claimed that Huawei has had the ability to covertly exploit backdoors intended for law enforcement officials in carrier equipment like antennas and routers since 2009.
In February 2020, the United States Department of Justice charged Huawei with racketeering and conspiring to steal trade secrets from six US firms. Huawei said those allegations, some going back almost 20 years, had never been found as a basis for any significant monetary judgment.
In mid July 2020, Andrew Little, the Minister in charge of New Zealand's signals intelligence agency the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), announced that New Zealand would not join the United Kingdom and United States in banning Huawei from the country's 5G network.
Martin Thorley of the University of Nottingham noted that a "company of Huawei’s size, working in what is considered a sensitive sector, simply cannot succeed in China without extensive links to the Party". Klon Kitchen has suggested that 5G dominance is essential to China in order to achieve its vision where "the prosperity of state-run capitalism is combined with the stability and security of technologically enabled authoritarianism". Nigel Inkster of the International Institute for Strategic Studies suggested that "Huawei involvement in the core backbone 5G infrastructure of developed western liberal democracies is a strategic game-changer because 5G is a game-changer”, with “national telecoms champions” playing a key role, which in turn is part of China's "ambitious strategy to reshape the planet in line with its interests” through the Belt and Road Initiative. On 7 October 2020, the U.K. Parliament's Defence Committee released a report concluding that there was evidence of collusion between Huawei and Chinese state and the Chinese Communist Party, based upon ownership model and government subsidies it has received.
In November 2020, Donald Trump issued an executive order prohibiting any American company or individual from owning shares in companies that the United States Department of Defense has listed as having links to the People's Liberation Army, which included Huawei. In January 2021, the Trump administration revoked licenses from US companies such as Intel from supplying products and technologies to Huawei. In June 2021, the FCC voted unanimously to prohibit approvals of Huawei gear in US telecommunication networks on national security grounds.
In November 2020, Telus dropped Huawei in favor of Samsung, Ericsson, and Nokia for their 5G/Radio Access Network
In 2021, Huawei did not report its ultimate beneficial ownership in Europe as required by European anti-money laundering laws.
On its most crucial business, namely, its telecoms business (including 5G) and server business, Huawei has stockpiled 1.5 to 2 years' worth of chips and components. It began massively stockpiling from 2018, when Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei's founder, was arrested in Canada upon US request. Key Huawei suppliers included Xilinx, Intel, AMD, Samsung, SK Hynix, Micron and Kioxia. On the other hand, analysts predicted that Huawei could ship 195 million units of smartphones from its existing stockpile in 2021, but shipments may drop to 50 million in 2021 if rules are not relaxed.
In June 2021, the administration of Joe Biden began to persuade the United Arab Emirates to remove the Huawei Technologies Co. equipment from its telecommunications network, while ensuring to further distance itself from China. It came as an added threat to the $23 billion arms deal of F-35 fighter jets and Reaper drones between the US and the UAE. The Emirates got a deadline of four years from Washington to replace the Chinese network. A report in September 2021 analyzed how the UAE was struggling between maintaining its relations with both the United States and China. While Washington had a hawkish stance towards Beijing, the increasing Emirati relations with China have strained those with America. In that light, the Western nation has raised concerns for the UAE to beware of the security threat that the Chinese technologies like Huawei 5G telecommunications network possessed. However, the Gulf nations like the Emirates and Saudi Arabia defended their decision of picking Chinese technology over the American, saying that it is much cheaper and had no political conditions.
Whereas at first the official Huawei line was that Harmony OS was not intended for smartphones, in June 2021 Huawei began shipping its smartphones with Harmony OS by default in China (in Europe it kept Android, in its own version EMUI, as the default). The operating system proved a success in China, rising from no market share at all to 10 per cent of the Chinese market for smartphones within two years (from mid-2021 to mid-2023), at the expense of Android.
In July 2021, Huawei hired Tony Podesta as a consultant and lobbyist, with a goal of nurturing the company's relationship with the Biden administration.
During the extradition courtroom proceedings, Meng's lawyers made several allegations against the prosecution, including allegations of unlawful detention of Meng, unlawful search and seizure, extradition law violations, misrepresentation, international law violation, and fabricated testimonies by the CBSA, each of which were responded to by the prosecution. In August 2021, the extradition judge questioned the regularity of the case and expressed great difficulty in understanding how the Record of Case (ROC) presented by the US supported their allegation of criminality.
The Aito brand (问界 Wenjie) is Huawei's premium EV brand in cooperation with Seres. In December 2021, the AITO M5 was unveiled as the first vehicle to be developed in cooperation with Huawei. The model was developed mainly by Seres and is essentially a restyled Seres SF5 crossover. The model was sold under a new brand called AITO, which stands for "Adding Intelligence to Auto" and uses Huawei DriveONE and HarmonyOS, while the Seres SF5 used Huawei DriveONE and HiCar.
However, heavy international sanctions saw Huawei's revenues drop by 32% in the 2021 third quarter. Linghao Bao, an analyst at policy research firm Trivium China said the "communications giant went from being the second-largest smartphone maker in the world, after Samsung, to essentially dead." By the end of third quarter in 2022, Huawei revenue had dropped a further 19.7% since the beginning of the year.
On 6 September 2023, Huawei launched its new Mate 60 smartphone. The phone is powered by a new Kirin 9000s chip, made in China by Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC). This processor was the first to use the new 7 nanometre SMIC technology. TechInsights had stated in 2022 that it believed SMIC had managed to produce 7 nm chips, even though faced by a harsh sanctions regime, by adapting simpler machines that it could still purchase from ASML. Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc. said that this showed that the US sanctions might have had the effect of sending China's chip-making industry into overdrive: "If SMIC really has perfected its 7nm process, this would be a major advance that can help Huawei remain at the forefront of the smartphone industry." TechInsights found evidence that the processor had been manufactured using SMIC's N+2 7 nm node. One of its analysts, Dan Hutcheson, who had led the breakdown of the new device, stated that it demonstrates "impressive technical progress China's semiconductor industry has made" despite not having EUVL tools, and that "the difficulty of this achievement also shows the resilience of the country's chip technological ability". However other analysts have said that such an achievement may lead to harsher sanctions against it.
In May 2022, Canada's government banned Huawei and ZTE equipment from the country's 5G network, with network operators having until 28 June 2024 to remove what they had already installed. The ban followed years of lobbying from the US, part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance that also includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.
In May 2022, Canada's industry minister Francois-Philippe Champagne announced that Canada will ban Huawei from the country's 5G network, in an effort to protect the safety and security of Canadians, as well as to protect Canada's infrastructure. The Canadian federal government cited national security concerns for the move, saying that the suppliers could be forced to company with "extrajudicial directions from foreign governments" in ways that could "conflict with Canadian laws or would be detrimental to Canadian interests". Telcos will be prevented from procuring new 4G or 5G equipment from Huawei and ZTE and must remove all ZTE- and Huawei-branded 5G equipment from their networks by 28 June 2024.
On 25 November 2022, the FCC issued a ban on Huawei for national security reasons, citing the national security risk posed by the technology owned by China.
Per an August 2023 decree on 5G network development, Costa Rica barred firms from all countries that have not signed the Budapest Convention on cybercrime. The decree affects Chinese firms like Huawei, as well as firms from South Korea, Russia and Brazil, among others.
In September 2023, the German Federal Ministry of the Interior proposed removing all Chinese equipment, including Huawei, from its 5G network by 2026.
In late 2020, it was reported that Huawei had planned to build a semiconductor manufacturing facility in Shanghai that did not involve US technology. The plan may have helped Huawei obtain necessary chips after its existing stockpile became depleted, which would have helped the company chart a sustainable path for its telecoms business. Huawei had also planned to collaborate with the government-run Shanghai IC R&D Center, which is partially owned by the state-owned enterprise Huahong Group. Huawei may have been purchasing equipment from Chinese firms such as AMEC and Naura, as well as using foreign tools which it could still find on the market.