Google, Chip Manufacturers Join Huawei Ban

Tech giant Google suspended all business requiring the transfer of hardware, software, and technical services with Chinese firm Huawei, Reuters reported on Sunday. New Huawei smartphones will lose access to popular Google apps, like YouTube and Maps, as well as security updates. Those publicly available, via open source licensing, would not appear to be affected. The move comes days after the Trump administration blacklisted Huawei, prohibiting American firms from trading with the company without a license.

Referring to the U.S. government’s proscription, a Google spokesperson said, “we are complying with the order and reviewing the implications.” Owners of current Huawei smartphones with Google apps will still able able to use them and download updates, they added. Huawei will also continue to have access to Android Open Source Project, a version of the operating system available for free to anyone who wants it. Details of the specifics of the ban were still being discussed internally at Google, according to Reuters.

Huawei’s bad week somehow got even worse Sunday night, as chipmakers Intel, Qualcomm, and Broadcom suspended business dealings as well. Bloomberg reported the manufacturers will freeze supply deals with Huawei immediately until further notice. Intel provides Huawei with server chips and laptop processors, Qualcomm with modems and other processors. Huawei has apparently been preparing for such a course of action, stockpiling some three months’ worth of chips from American suppliers.

Earlier in the week, the Chinese government defended what some call the world’s most controversial company, and lashed out strongly at the U.S. government’s blacklist. On Thursday, Beijing accused President Trump of industrial sabotage, and using national security “as a pretext for suppressing foreign business.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement the U.S. should “stop this practice and instead create better conditions for business cooperation.” China threatened to retaliate in response to Huawei’s implicit inclusion on the “entity list,” but did not say how.

It’s uncertain what the short- and long-term consequences for Huawei will be. Huawei insists they were ready for western backlash against them, and have been preparing a number of contingencies. In addition to stockpiling American chips, Huawei Device Chairman Richard Yu told Germany’s Die Welt newspaper earlier this year, “we have prepared our own operating systems— that’s our plan B.” Still, when the U.S. imposed a similar trade ban on ZTE, the company nearly went bankrupt. First and foremost will be determining whether the Huawei blacklist is merely saber-rattling from the Trump Administration or a more permanent act. ZTE’s supposed seven-year ban was lifted after less than three months.

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Robert Martin (CN Staff)

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