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Huawei’s Grand Game and Can It Be Won?

ZOOMING IN with Simone Gao

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Huawei is poised to take control of much of the globe’s cyber domain even though the United States has warned the world of the security implications. Can the free world still win this battle? And what will it take to win?


On today’s episode:

  • Declan Ganley, President of Rivada Networks, a U.S.-based telecommunications company.


Will Huawei Take Control of the World’s 5G Deployment?

Two months ago, when Zooming In did a story on Huawei and global 5G deployment, Huawei was poised to take control of much of the world’s cyber domain. We talked about the national security implications of that prospect. And we observed the U.S. effort to raise the awareness of that risk. Two months later, when we are doing another story on this, we realized the world knows Huawei a lot better through these efforts, but Huawei’s momentum has not stopped. In fact, Huawei and China are playing a grander game. They have a brilliant strategy that is working well with the very nature of crony capitalism.


For many stakeholders, the Barcelona World Mobile Congress held at the end of February this year was what they feared: a victory party for Huawei, China’s primary telecommunications equipment provider who will be deploying 5G networks worldwide. According to Zooming In sources, Huawei has signed official 5G deployment contracts with 68 countries.  That number jumps to 80 if Memorandum of understandings, where countries are testing and planning on using Huawei equipment, are included. When Zooming In reported this story in early February, the number of countries who had decided to go with Huawei was 61.


Interestingly, in public, Huawei has under reported the victory number by asking some of its new clients not to announce the deal. Some of its clients have also asked Huawei to do the same out of fear of political pressure.


The US Warns the World about Huawei, but Is It Enough?

Huawei’s success is significant against the backdrop of a few important events. First, On December 1st, 2018, Huawei’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada at the request of the United States for allegedly breaching U.S.-imposed bans on dealing with Iran. Two months later, Huawei was indicted for theft of trade secrets, wire fraud, and obstruction of justice in the U.S. Following that, America warned allies that whoever uses Huawei equipment for 5G deployment will be cutting itself from information exchange with the U.S.


Responding to the U.S. warning, The European Commission decided not to call for a European ban on Huawei, leaving it to EU countries to decide on national security. But it urged EU countries to share more data to tackle cybersecurity risks related to 5G networks. On March 19, Danish telecom provider TDC announced it will go with Sweden-based Ericsson to build the company’s 5G network. But Germany recently refused to ban Huawei from its 5G deployment. The UK has indicated a similar stance.


For the Barcelona Congress, the United States sent representatives to renew the warnings about Huawei’s security risks while Huawei was at the same place celebrating its success. The conventional wisdom is that Huawei overshadowed U.S. representatives. It is not entirely surprising because this is a battle China has engaged in for a long time, but the U.S. only realized it recently. Yes, they are better prepared because they know they are executing a grand plan to dominate the world’s next generation of 5G networks and beyond.


Press Play to listen and tell us what you think about Huawei and China’s goal to rule the cyber domain.



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