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Dec
11

Huawei: Chinese technology beacon fades in US

From: The National

Clifford Coonan

Like many tech firms of its size, Huawei’s campus is a model of efficiency and industry, with research and development (R&D) centres set in green landscaping, with water features and pleasing architecture.

The Chinese multinational company sells products to more than 140 countries, and by the end of last year served in excess of one third of the world’s population. It had revenues of 113.8 billion yuan (Dh68.61bn) in the first half of the year and is on track to increase revenues by 10 per cent this year in the full 12 months. The company expects to grow by 10 per cent every year, and it will do this without any mergers or acquisitions.

Here in Shenzhen, the company has 40,000, mostly young, employees, nearly three quarters of whom work in R&D. Shenzhen is a major city in the south of southern China’s Guangdong Province, situated immediately north of Hong Kong. The area became China’s first – and one of the most successful – special economic zones in 1979.

Inside the building known as the “White House”, the eager R&D technicians work on a range of technology – from dealing with extreme temperature drops to expanding mobile networks in cities and making smartphones faster, slimmer and better looking.

During a recent visit, there were demonstrations of cutting-edge technology, such as a container data solution whereby a company, local government or organisation can set up an entire data management system using solutions carried in containers.

Or big data storage like the Cloud Engine 12800, that can ship colossal amounts of data per second.

“In 16 years we have expanded from one country of operation – China – to 140,” said the international media relations chief Scott Sykes.

“Of the 66 per cent of revenues from outside China, 35 per cent come from Europe, Middle East and Africa.

“It’s important for people to know who we are and what our intentions are because of the two new businesses and because the relative strategic importance of telecoms has risen dramatically in the last decade,” he said.

New products, a driven workforce and rising revenues; but Huawei has a problem.

Last year, a report by the US house permanent select committee on intelligence (SCI) claimed that Huawei’s equipment posed a threat to national security.

In July, the former head of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA), Michael Hayden, said he believed Huawei Technologies was a significant security threat to the US, that it had spied for the Chinese government and that intelligence agencies had hard evidence of its activities.

And in October, Australia’s federal government decided to confirm a ban on Huawei supplying equipment to that country’s national broadband network.

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