when thinking about Huawei, the first thing that usually comes to mind is their modern smartphones. Its designs – some “inspired” by rival brands – cause enormous fascination and it is no coincidence that, in 2018, the company became the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, in back of Samsung.
However, Huawei is much more than that. Is he technological arm of the Chinese regime and his boss, Xi Jinping, who a few years ago promoted a Influence campaign for Shenzhen-based company to take over 5G networks in Europe, Latin America, Oceania, Africa and Asia.
You can rarely find news that speaks ill of Huawei by doing a simple Google search. The power of “persuasion” that the parastatal company has is enormous.
5G technology is one of the strongest points linking the company to the Beijing regime. By law, Chinese companies are required to have a member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on their board. That is to say that, to obtain the permissions to expand its own network in almost the whole world, Xi would have access -and this is how he executes it- to infinite data not only from users, but from other companies, organizations and even governments. It is not surprising then the dangers that Huawei’s 5G technology could reach every corner of the planet could pose. And Latin America is one of their targets.
While on the international stage China works to make its telecommunications networks the new global standard, internally warns about the risks of relying on foreign technology, a double discourse that hides the real ambitions of the regime of Xi Jinping.
According to a report from Brookings Institution titled China as a great cyber power: Beijing’s two voices in telecommunications, Beijing’s ambitions in telecommunications and information technology are part of a broader strategy that seeks to make the Asian country the dominant cyber power in this century.
Beijing believes that it is at a historic moment in which has the opportunity to set the new global standards in this sector.
Just as it is more than well known regime persecution of Uyghurs, it was also made public that Huawei collaborated with Beijing to crack down using powerful software. The tech giant tested a software from facial recognition I could senduyghur alarms“automated to government authorities when their camera systems identify members of the oppressed minority group, according to an internal document, seen by The Washington Post, that provides more details about the China’s artificial intelligence surveillance regime.
China and Huawei, united by the Army
Huawei bears an indisputable military imprint. His founder, Ren Zhengfei, was a member of People’s Liberation Army during decades. In 1978 he joined the PCC. In the force, he served in the area of innovation and science. Four years later he was forced to leave the armed forces after a large reduction in personnel and settled in the province of Shenzhen. There, in 1987, he would achieve his dream of founding the company that currently has almost 200 thousand employees worldwide.
After leaving the Army, Zhengfei’s love for the military continued. The collaboration was permanent between both actors. According to research done by Bloomberg, the agreement involves research involving employees of the corporation and uniformed.
“Over the past decade, Huawei workers have teamed up with members of various People’s Liberation Army organs in at least ten research ventures ranging from artificial intelligence to radio communications.”, warned the outlet in 2019. “They include a joint effort with the investigative branch of the Central Military Commission -the supreme body of the armed forces- to extract and classify emotions in online video comments and an initiative with technology of the National Defense University to explore ways of collecting and analyzing satellite images and geographic coordinates”. Striking communion that company spokesmen were quick to deny.
Huawei, Meng Wanzhou and three years of crisis between China, Canada and the US
When on December 1, 2018 Canadian authorities announced that they had arrested the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), the digital industry shook. Meng Wanzhou was requested by the North American Justice for having violated the sanctions imposed on the Iranian theocracy. I was accused of triangulate transactions to avoid detecting the violation of the reprimands against the Tehran regime.
Beijing took the matter personally. He accused the government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of having launched a “political persecution” and responded accordingly. He detained four Canadian citizens on his territory. He accused two of espionage. The other two, from the drug trade.
Finally, after nearly three years of dispute, a Canadian judge ended the extradition proceedings against Meng Wanzhou, ordering that her bail conditions be lifted, freed her and concluded the long legal saga.
The decision of the Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Heather Holmes, came after Meng reached an agreement of deferred prosecution with US prosecutors to avoid felony fraud charges.
The relationship with the surveillance programs of the Chinese regime
An investigation by The Washington Post of more than 100 Huawei PowerPoint presentations, many of them marked as “confidential”, suggests that the company had a broader role in monitoring China’s population than has been acknowledged.
“These marketing presentations, posted on a public Huawei website before they were removed by the company late last year, show how its technologies can help government authorities identify people by voice, monitor political persons of interest, manage prisoner retraining and work schedules, and help retailers track shoppers using facial recognition”, reveals the journalistic report.
According to this investigation by journalist Eva Dou, and with the collaboration of journalist Pei Lin Wu in Taiwan, “the divergence between Huawei’s public denials that it does not know how customers use its technology and detailed accounts of operations of surveillance on slides bearing the company’s watermark, taps into long-standing concerns about the fhigh level of transparency in the world’s largest provider of telecommunications products. Huawei has long been dogged by criticism that it is opaque and is closer to the Chinese government than he claims”.