Criticism of Huawei

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Huawei is a Chinese multinational technology and consumer electronics company. It has faced criticisms for various aspects of its operations, particularly in regards to cybersecurity and intellectual property.

It has faced allegations – primarily from the United States government - that its wireless networking equipment contains backdoors enabling surveillance by the Chinese government. There have been calls from U.S. entities to prevent the use of products from Huawei or fellow Chinese telecom ZTE by the U.S. or its allies, especially in relation to 5G wireless networks. A U.S. national defense spending bill signed in August 2018 banned the government from purchasing Huawei or ZTE equipment. Huawei has argued that its products posed "no greater cybersecurity risk" than those of any other vendor, and that there is no evidence of the U.S. espionage claims.[1] Huawei sued the U.S. government in March 2019, citing that it had refused to provide them with due process over the aforementioned restrictions.

Huawei has also faced allegations that it has engaged in corporate espionage to steal competitors' intellectual property, and exported U.S. technology to Iran in violation of sanctions.

Intellectual property[edit]

Cisco patent lawsuit[edit]

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.[2] According to a statement by Cisco, by July 2004 Huawei removed the contested code, manuals and command-line interfaces and the case was subsequently dropped.[3] Both sides claimed success – with Cisco asserting that "completion of lawsuit marks a victory for the protection of intellectual property rights", and Huawei's partner 3Com (which was not a part of lawsuit) noting that court order prevented Cisco from bringing another case against Huawei asserting the same or substantially similar claims.[4] Although Cisco employees allegedly witnessed counterfeited technology as late as September 2005,[5] in a retrospective Cisco's Corporate Counsel noted that "Cisco was portrayed by the Chinese media as a bullying multi-national corporation" and "the damage to Cisco's reputation in China outweighed any benefit achieved through the lawsuit";[6] however the same article that quoted the remarks of the Corporate Counsel also notes the remarks of Jay Hoenig of Hill and Associates, a security and risk management consultancy, who encouraged foreign companies to take greater advantage of civil litigation and said that it was hard to make the argument that China's civil system was ineffectual if litigants did not pursue all of the legal remedies available to them.[6]

Huawei's chief representative in the US subsequently claimed that Huawei had been vindicated in the case, breaking a confidentiality clause of Huawei's settlement with Cisco. In response Cisco revealed parts of the independent expert's report produced for the case which proved that Huawei had stolen Cisco code and directly copied it into their products.[7]

T-Mobile smartphone testing robot[edit]

In September 2014, Huawei faced a lawsuit from T-Mobile US, which alleged that Huawei stole technology from its Bellevue, Washington, headquarters. T-Mobile claimed in its filed suit that Huawei's employees snuck into a T-Mobile lab during the period of 2012–2013 and stole parts of its smartphone testing robot Tappy. The Huawei employees then copied the operating software and design details, violating confidentiality agreements that both companies signed. Furthermore, Huawei is now using the stolen parts and data to build its own testing robot. A Huawei spokesman stated to The New York Times that there is some truth to the complaint, but that the two employees involved have been fired. T-Mobile has since stopped using Huawei as a supplier, which T-Mobile says could cost it tens of millions of dollars as it moves away from its handsets.[8]

In May 2017, a jury agreed with T-Mobile that Huawei committed industrial espionage in United States, and Huawei was ordered to pay $4.8m in damages. Huawei responded to the lawsuit by arguing that Tappy was not a trade secret, and that it was made by Epson, not T-Mobile. According to Huawei, "T-Mobile's statement of the alleged trade secret is an insufficient, generic statement that captures virtually every component of its robot," and it had failed to point out any trade secret stolen with sufficient specificity. T-Mobile dismissed Huawei's arguments, and contended that Epson had provided only a component of the robot.[9][10]

Motorola patent lawsuit[edit]

In July 2010, Motorola filed an amended complaint that named Huawei as a co-defendant in its case against Lemko for alleged theft of trade secrets.[11][12] The case against Huawei was subsequently dropped in April 2011.[13][14] In January 2011, Huawei filed a lawsuit against Motorola to prevent its intellectual property from being illegally transferred to Nokia Siemens Networks ("NSN") as part of NSN's US$1.2 billion acquisition of Motorola's wireless network business.[15][16][17][18] In April 2011, Motorola and Huawei entered into an agreement to settle all pending litigation,[14][19][20] with Motorola paying an undisclosed sum to Huawei for the intellectual property that would be part of the sale to NSN.[21][22][23]

ZTE patent lawsuit[edit]

In a further move to protect its intellectual property, Huawei filed lawsuits in Germany, France and Hungary in April 2011 against ZTE for patent and trademark infringement.[24][25][26] The following day, ZTE countersued Huawei for patent infringement in China.[27][28]

Circuit boards[edit]

In June 2004, a Huawei employee was caught diagramming and photographing circuit boards after-hours from a competitor booth at the SuperComm trade show.[29] The employee denied the accusation, but was later dismissed.[30][31]

Ahkan Semiconductor diamond glass[edit]

Huawei was under investigation by FBI in the United States for sending some diamond glass samples developed by the company Ahkan Semiconductor to China without authorization to test and destroy the product in order to steal intellectual property.[32]

Espionage and security concerns[edit]

In the US, officials and politicians within the federal government have raised concerns that Huawei-made telecommunications equipment may be designed to allow unauthorised access by the Chinese government and the Chinese People's Liberation Army,[33][34][35][36] given that Ren Zhengfei, the founder of the company, served as an engineer in the army in the early 1980s.[37] In the United Kingdom, the Conservative Party raised concerns about security over Huawei's bid for Marconi in 2005,[35] and the company's equipment was mentioned as an alleged potential threat in a 2009 government briefing by Alex Allan, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.[38] In December 2010, Huawei opened a Cyber Security Evaluation Centre to test its hardware and software to ensure they can withstand growing cyber security threats.[39][40] In the U.S., some members of Congress raised questions about the company's proposed merger with communications company 3Com in 2008,[41] and its bid for a Sprint contract in 2010.[37] In addition, Huawei withdrew its purchase of 3Leaf systems in 2010, following a review by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS).[34]

In October 2009, the Indian Department of Telecommunications reportedly requested national telecom operators to "self-regulate" the use of all equipment from European, U.S. and Chinese telecoms manufacturers following security concerns.[42] Earlier, in 2005, Huawei was blocked from supplying equipment to India's Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) cellular phone service provider.[43] In 2010, the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) insisted on cancelling the rest of the Huawei contract with BSNL and pressed charges against several top BSNL officers regarding their "doubtful integrity and dubious links with Chinese firms".[44][45] In June 2010, an interim solution was introduced that would allow the import of Chinese-made telecoms equipment to India if pre-certified by international security agencies such as Canada's Electronic Warfare Associates, US-based Infoguard, and Israel's ALTAL Security Consulting.[46]

In a 2011 open letter, Huawei stated that the security concerns are "unfounded and unproven" and called on the U.S. government to investigate any aspect of its business.[47][48] The US-based non-profit organisation Asia Society carried out a review of Chinese companies trying to invest in the U.S., including Huawei. The organisation found that only a few investment deals were blocked following unfavorable findings by the CFIUS or had been given a recommendation not to apply. However, all large transactions had been politicised by groups including the U.S. media, members of Congress and the security community.[49] However, another article unrelated to the report published by the Asia Society reported that, "fear that the P.R.C. government could strongarm private or unaffiliated Chinese groups into giving up cyber-secrets is reflected in the U.S. government's treatment of Chinese telecom company Huawei."[50]

In December 2011, Bloomberg reported that the U.S. is invoking Cold War-era national security powers to force telecommunication companies including AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. to divulge confidential information about their networks in a hunt for Chinese cyber-spying. The US House Intelligence Committee had said on 18 November that it would investigate foreign companies, and a spokesman for Huawei said that the company conducts its businesses according to normal business practices and actually welcomed the investigation.[51] On 8 October 2012, the Committee issued a report concluding Huawei and ZTE were a "national security threat".[52] However, a subsequent White House-ordered review found no concrete evidence to support the House report's espionage allegations.[53]

In March 2012, Australian media sources reported that the Australian government had excluded Huawei from tendering for contracts with NBN Co, a government-owned corporation that is managing the construction of the National Broadband Network,[54] following advice from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation regarding security concerns.[55] The Attorney-General's Department stated in response to these reports that the National Broadband Network is "a strategic and significant government investment, [and] we have a responsibility to do our utmost to protect its integrity and that of the information carried on it."[56]

On 9 October 2012, a spokesperson for prime minister Stephen Harper indicated that the Canadian government invoked a national security exception to exclude Huawei from its plans to build a secure government communications network.[57]

On 19 July 2013, Michael Hayden, former head of the U.S. National Security Agency and director of Motorola Solutions, claimed that he has seen hard evidence of backdoors in Huawei's networking equipment and that the company engaged in espionage and shared intimate knowledge of the foreign telecommunications systems with the Chinese government.[58] Huawei and Motorola Solutions had previously been engaged in intellectual property disputes for a number of years. Huawei's global cybersecurity officer, John Suffolk, described the comments made by Hayden as "tired, unsubstantiated, defamatory remarks" and challenged him and other critics to present any evidence publicly.[59][58]

In 2014, The New York Times reported, based upon documents leaked by Edward Snowden, that the U.S. National Security Agency has since 2007 been operating a covert program against Huawei. This involved breaking into Huawei's internal networks, including headquarter networks and founder Ren Zhengfei's communications.[60] In 2014, Huawei reached a sponsorship deal with the NFL's Washington Redskins to install free public Wi-Fi at FedExField, but the agreement was abruptly shelved weeks after it was announced due to unofficial action by a U.S. government advisor.[61][62]

In 2016, Canada's immigration department said it planned to deny permanent resident visas to three Chinese citizens who worked for Huawei over concerns the applicants are involved in espionage, terrorism, and government subversion.[63]

In 2018, an investigation by French newspaper Le Monde alleged that China had engaged in hacking the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia from 2012 to 2017.[64] The building was built by Chinese contractors, including Huawei, and Huawei equipment has been linked to these hacks.[65] The Chinese government denied that they bugged the building, stating that the accusations were "utterly groundless and ridiculous."[66] Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn rejected the French media report.[67] Moussa Faki Mahamat, head of the African Union Commission, said the allegations in the Le Monde report were false. "These are totally false allegations and I believe that we are completely disregarding them."[68]

On 17 April 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held a preliminary, 5–0 vote on rules forbidding the use of government subsidies to purchase telecom equipment from companies deemed to be a risk to national security. A draft of the policy specifically named Huawei and ZTE as examples.[69][70] The same day, the company revealed plans to downplay the U.S. market as part of its future business plans, citing the government scrutiny as having impeded its business there.[71]

In August 2018, U.S. president Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, which contains a provision barring the U.S. government from purchasing hardware from Huawei or ZTE, under cybersecurity ground.[72]

In retaliation for the aforementioned campaigns and legislation targeting the company, Huawei sued the U.S. government in March 2019, alleging that it has "repeatedly failed to produce any evidence to support its restrictions", and that Congress failed to provide it due process.[73]

On 15 May 2019, Trump issued the Executive Order on Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain, which gives the government power to restrict any transactions with "foreign adversaries" that involve information and communications technology. The same day, also citing violations of economic sanctions against Iran, the U.S. Department of Commerce added Huawei and its affiliates to its entity list under the Export Administration Regulations. This restricts U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei without government permission.[74][75] On 19 May 2019, Reuters reported that Google had suspended Huawei's ability to use the Android operating system on its devices with licensed Google Mobile Services, due to these restrictions.[76][77] The next day, it was reported that Intel, Qualcomm, and Xilinx had stopped supplying components to Huawei.[78]

Chinese law requirement[edit]

In December 2018, Arne Schönbohm, head of Germany's Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), stated that the country had not yet seen evidence that Huawei had used its equipment to conduct espionage on behalf of China.[79] That month, it was also reported that the Japanese government had ceased future procurement of Huawei and ZTE products.[80]

The Czech Republic's cybersecurity agency issued a warning against Huawei and ZTE products, arguing that Chinese law required companies to "cooperate with intelligence services, therefore introducing them into the key state systems might present a threat." Huawei refuted the arguments, stating that it is not required to include backdoors in its products, nor has the company ever received any requests to do so. Shortly afterward, prime minister Andrej Babiš ordered that government offices cease using Huawei and ZTE products. However, the ban was reversed after the agency's claims were found to be without basis.[81][82][83]

Attorneys of the London-based law firm Clifford Chance reviewed two Chinese bills commonly cited in these allegations (the 2017 National Intelligence Law, and the 2014 Counter-Espionage Law), and concluded that there was no such requirement in Chinese law for backdoors to be included in telecom equipment, and that the laws were directed more towards the actual operators of telecom services, and not extraterritorial.[84]

5G networks[edit]

Four members of the Five Eyes international intelligence alliance—Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US—have declared the use of Huawei telecommunications equipment, particularly in 5G networks, poses "significant security risks", while Canada is carrying out its own security review; only Britain is permitting the company to participate in the rollout of the new technology.[85] In late November 2018, the New Zealand signals intelligence agency Government Communications Security Bureau blocked telecommunications company Spark from using Huawei equipment in its planned 5G upgrade, claiming that it posed a "significant network security risk." The NZ ban followed a similar ban in Australia in August 2018.[86][87]

In October 2018, BT Group announced that it had been phasing out Huawei equipment from "core" components of its wireless infrastructure (excluding parts such as phone mast antennas), including its 5G services,[88] and the Emergency Services Network project.[89]

In December 2018, Gavin Williamson, the UK's Defence Secretary, expressed "grave" and "very deep concerns" about the company providing technology to upgrade Britain's services to 5G. He accused Beijing of acting "sometimes in a malign way". Alex Younger, the head of MI6, also raised questions about Huawei's role.[90]

On 11 January 2019, Poland announced that two people working on a 5G Huawei network had been arrested: Wang Weijing (a Huawei executive), and Piotr Durbaglo, a consultant having worked for Polish domestic security, but currently working for Orange on 5G network testing.[91]

Consumer electronics[edit]

In 2015, German cybersecurity company G Data reported that it had found that malware that can listen to calls, track users, and make online purchases was found pre-installed on smartphones from Chinese companies including Lenovo, Xiaomi, and Huawei. When G Data contacted the companies to let them know about the malware, Huawei replied that the security breaches must have taken place further down the supply chain, outside the manufacturing process.[92][93]

In January 2018, with the proposal of the Defending US Government Communications Act (which would ban the use of Huawei and ZTE products and equipment by U.S. government entities), calls for the FCC to investigate the company, as well as government pressure, it was reported that U.S. carrier AT&T had abruptly pulled out of an agreement to offer its Mate 10 Pro smartphone, while Verizon Communications had declined to carry any future Huawei products.[94][95]

On 14 February 2018, heads of six U.S. intelligence agencies testified to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence against the use of Chinese telecom products by U.S. citizens, such as those of Huawei and ZTE. Christopher A. Wray, director of the FBI, stated that they were "deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don't share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks". Huawei responded to the allegations, arguing that its products "[pose] no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor, sharing as we do common global supply chains and production capabilities," and that it was "aware of a range of U.S. government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei's business in the U.S. market".[96] In March 2018, it was reported that Best Buy, the country's largest electronics store chain, would no longer sell Huawei products.[97]

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. The apps could not be disabled and continued to send sensitive data even after appearing to be deleted.[98]

Security exploits[edit]

In July 2012, Felix Lindner and Gregor Kopf gave a conference at Defcon to announce that they uncovered several critical vulnerabilities in Huawei routers (models AR18 and AR29)[99] which could be used to get remote access to the device. The researchers said that Huawei "doesn't have a security contact for reporting vulnerabilities, doesn't put out security advisories and doesn't say what bugs have been fixed in its firmware updates", and as a result, the vulnerabilities have not been publicly disclosed. Huawei replied that they were investigating the claims.[100]

In January 2019, Huawei patched a security flaw that was discovered by Microsoft in the "PCManager" software bundled on its laptops, after detecting that the software used a driver with behavior similar to the DoublePulsar exploit.[101]

In March 2019, the Oversight Board of United Kingdom government organization Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre found “serious and systematic defects” in Huawei software engineering and their cyber security competence, and cast doubt on Huawei's ability and competence to fix security problems that have been found, although they do not believe these flaws are caused by Chinese government interference.[102]

Company ownership[edit]

Huawei is stated to be a privately-held, employee-owned company: Ren Zhengfei retains approximately 1 percent of the shares of Huawei's holding company, Huawei Investment & Holding[103], with the remainder of the shares held by a trade union committee that also provides services for its staff. This is also due to a limitation in Chinese law preventing limited liability companies from having more than 50 shareholders (the employees' interest is treated as a single share via the union).[104][105][106] Although employee shareholders receive dividends, their shares do not entitle them to any direct influence in management decisions. The companys founder, Ren Zhengfei, and has the power to veto any decision made by the board of directors.[107]

A 2019 research paper published by Donald Clarke of George Washington University and Christopher Balding of Fulbright University Vietnam accused Huawei of being "effectively state-owned" due to this structure "if the trade union and its committee function as trade unions generally function in China" (being required to be associated with a labor federation tied to the Communist Party). They also claimed that the arrangement was only a profit-sharing arrangement and not actual ownership. Chief secretary of the board Jiang Xisheng disputed the paper, stating that its authors had "an incomplete understanding of Huawei's corporate policies and a limited knowledge of its ownership structure." Spalding defended the research, telling Nikkei that "believing Huawei would defy Beijing defies credibility. With the Communist Party actively overseeing and enforcing regulations and state interests abroad, it simply does not match the facts of Chinese interest in promoting companies and interests abroad that Huawei could refuse to assist if asked."[106][105][107]

Some Huawei employees initiated legal challenges against Huawei regarding the employee stock for the year 2003 on a Chinese court, however both the Shenzhen city Intermediate people's court and the Guangdong province High people's court ruled that their stock ownership are for reference only and there are no legal basis to employees' claims on their ownership of Huawei's stock.[108]

Treatment of workforce and customers[edit]

A U.S. Army Strategic Studies Institute report on Argentina published in September 2007 describes Huawei as "known to bribe and trap clients". The report details unfair business practices, such as customers framed by "full-paid trips" to China and monetary "presents" offered and later used by Huawei as "a form of extortion".[109]

According to a WikiLeaks cable, in 2006, Michael Joseph, then-CEO of Safaricom Ltd, allegedly struggled to cancel a contract with Huawei due to poor after-sales experience, after which the Kenyan government pressured him to reinstate the contract.[110] When questioned regarding this incident, Joseph replied, "It [the cable] is not a reflection of the truth as evidenced by Safaricom being a major purchaser of Huawei products including all 3G, switching and the recent OCS billing system upgraded over the weekend."[111]

In May 2010, it was reported in The Times of India, that security agencies in India became suspicious of Chinese Huawei employees after learning that Indian employees allegedly did not have access to part of Huawei's Bangalore research and development (R&D) office building.[112] Huawei responded that the company employs over 2,000 Indian engineers and just 30 Chinese engineers in the R&D center in Bangalore, and "both Indian and Chinese staff have equal access rights to all our information assets and facilities".[113] According to The Times of India, the intelligence agencies also noted that Chinese employees of Huawei had extended their stay in Bangalore for many months.[112] Huawei stated that many of these employees were on one-and-a-half-year international assignments to serve as a technical bridge between in-market teams and China, and that "all the Chinese employees had valid visas and did not overstay".[114]

In October 2007, 7,000 Huawei employees resigned and were then rehired on short-term contracts, thereby apparently avoiding the unlimited contract provisions of the Labour Contract Law of the People's Republic of China. The company denied it was exploiting loopholes in the law, while the move was condemned by local government and trade unions.[115][116]

Huawei's treatment of its workforce in Guangdong, Southern China also triggered a media outcry after a 25-year-old software engineer, Hu Xinyu, died in May 2006 from bacterial encephalitis, as a result of what is believed[by whom?] to have been work-related fatigue.[117][118]

In its 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility report, Huawei highlighted the importance of employee health and safety. In 2010, Huawei provided annual health checks to all full-time employees and performed 3,200 checks to employees exposed to occupational health risks.[119][120]

State subsidy and dumping[edit]

According to report, Huawei have been working closely with China Development Bank in foreign market starting from year 2004.[121][122][123]

In year 2011, the U.S. Export-Import Bank President Fred Hochberg alleged the China Development Bank credit as one of the main reason behind Huawei's rapid growth, however Huawei rejected the claim as "fundamentally incorrect" despite admitting the existence of those credits.[124]

In 2012, Huawei president Ren Zhenfei have stated that, "without government protection, Huawei would no longer be alive."[125]

In 2013, European Union found that Huawei and ZTE have violated EU's anti-dumping and anti-subsidy guidelines, however Huawei denied the finding and claim they are always playing fairly.[126]

In 2016, Indian government found that Chinese telecommunication equipment makers including Huawei have been continually dumping those equipment into the Indian market and causing injuries to Indian local companies. As a result, the Indian government applied anti-dumping duty onto equipment imported from Chinese equipment makers, including Huawei. The duty rate applied to Huawei was 37.73%.[127]

Alleged violation of economic sanctions and technology theft[edit]


On 25 October 2012, the Reuters news agency published a report, based on documents and interviews, alleging an Iranian-based seller of Huawei (Soda Gostar Persian Vista) tried to sell embargoed American antenna equipment (made by American company Andrew LLC) to an Iranian firm (MTN Irancell). Specifically, the Andrew antennas were part of a large order for Huawei telecommunications gear that MTN Irancell had placed through Soda Gostar, but the MTN Irancell says it cancelled the deal with Huawei when it learned the items were subject to sanctions and before any equipment was delivered.[128] Vic Guyang, a Huawei spokesman, acknowledged that MTN Irancell had cancelled the order; Rick Aspan, a spokesman for CommScope, said the company was not aware of the aborted transaction.[128]

In April 2018, it was reported that the U.S. Justice Department had joined the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, and the Department of Commerce, to investigate possible violations of economic sanctions by Huawei for its provision of equipment in Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela. The U.S. inquiry stems from an earlier sanctions-violation probe that ultimately led to penalties against ZTE.[129]

On 1 December 2018, Huawei vice-chairwoman and CFO Meng Wanzhou,[130] daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada at the request of U.S. authorities. She faces extradition to the United States on charges of violating sanctions against Iran.[131] 22 August 2018 arrest warrant was issued by the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.[132] Meng is "charged with conspiracy to defraud multiple international institutions", according to the prosecutor.[133] The warrant was based on allegations of a conspiracy to defraud banks which were clearing money that was claimed to be for Huawei, but was actually for Skycom, an entity claimed to be entirely controlled by Huawei, which was said to be dealing in Iran, contrary to sanctions. None of the allegations have been proven in court.[134] On 11 December 2018, Meng Wanzhou was released on bail.[135]

On 28 January 2019, U.S. federal prosecutors formally indicted Meng Wanzhou and Huawei with thirteen counts of bank and wire fraud, obstruction of justice, and misappropriating trade secrets.[136][137] The Department also filed a formal extradition request for Meng with Canadian authorities that same day. Huawei responded to the charges and that it "denies that it or its subsidiary or affiliate have committed any of the asserted violations", as well as asserted Meng was similarly innocent. The China Ministry of Industry and Information Technology believed the charges brought on by the United States were "unfair".[138]


According to a report by Iraqi official, Huawei supplied "optic fibre and switching equipment" to Iraqi military in year 2001-2002 when the country was ruled by Saddam Hussein's government during the Ba'athist Iraq period, violating 1991 United Nation sanctions.[139]


In year 2019, Reuters reported that Huawei is linked to a suspicious front company at Mauritius which have conducted operation at Syria, despite Huawei's claim that they are unrelated.[140]


See #Taliban_2 section.

Link to surveillance program[edit]


Huawei have been reported as one of the key supplier for the China's The Great Firewall of China internet censorship program.[141][142]


In October 2011, The Wall Street Journal reported that Huawei had become Iran's leading provider of telecommunications equipment, including monitoring technologies that could be used for surveillance.[143] Huawei responded with a statement claiming the story misrepresented the company's involvement: "We have never been involved and do not provide any services relating to monitoring or filtering technologies and equipment anywhere in the world".[144]


According to report, Russian telecom equipment manufacturer Bulat was in talk with Huawei to acquire technology to store user data when they are using the network.[145]


In 2001, it was alleged that Huawei Technologies India had developed telecommunications surveillance equipment for the Taliban in Afghanistan, and newspapers reported that the Indian government had launched a probe into the firm's operations.[146][147] Huawei responded, stating that the company did not have "any link with the Taliban", as its only customers are telecommunications carriers[148] and its facilities "always operate according to U.N. rules and the local laws of each country".[149] On 15 December 2001, the Indian authorities announced that they had not found any evidence that Huawei India had any connection to the Taliban,[150] although the U.S. remains suspicious.[151]

Misleading marketing[edit]

Benchmark cheating[edit]

In September 2018, Anandtech reported that recent Huawei and Honor phones, including the Huawei P20 and Honor Play, had been configured to activate a high-performance mode when certain benchmarking software was detected, causing increased frame rates at the expense of efficiency and battery life. A Huawei executive admitted that the company was attempting to compete with domestic vendors, including one it accused of providing "unrealistic" scores. However, he also expressed an opinion that manufacturers should evaluate their phones on benchmarks that more accurately reflect real-world use, and that the company would vet its benchmark scores via third-parties before publishing them as promotional material.[152]

After confirming the behavior with a version of its software that could not be easily detected, 3DMark delisted scores for several Huawei and Honor devices from its database.[153] Huawei subsequently announced that it would add a feature known as "Performance Mode" to its EMUI 9 software, allowing users to enable this high performance state on-demand.[154][155]


On several occasions, Huawei has issued promotional materials promoting the camera capabilities on its smartphones, that were later found to have actually used professional DSLR cameras instead. In 2015, Huawei posted a promotional photo on Google+ featuring Ella Woodward bathed in a sunrise, asking readers to share their own photos of the sunrise taken with the Huawei P9—as aided by its low-light capabilities. It was pointed out that EXIF metadata on the photo identified it as having been taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, and the wording and intent of the post could potentially mislead readers into believing that the photo itself was also taken with a P9. Huawei pulled the post and apologized, stating that it was meant to "inspire our community", and that the caption should have been more clear.[156][157]

In 2018, behind-the-scenes photos from the filming of a Nova 3 commercial by Huawei's Egyptian branch revealed that a DSLR had been used for certain scenes, implied to have been taken with the phone itself during the commercial. An actor was seen miming the taking of a selfie, without any phone in his hand. It is not explicitly disclaimed in the ad.[158][159]

In its promotion of the Huawei P30, the company was caught using stock photos on promotional posts for the device on Sina Weibo. The posts were later amended with fine print stating that they were for "reference" purposes only.[160]

A new AI mode on the P30 is designed for taking photos of the Moon, and states that it can "adequately capture the beauty of the moon along with fine details like moonbeams and shadows". However, it was later discovered that this mode merely composes existing imagery of the moon into the photo.[161][162]

National politics[edit]


Huawei Mate 10 Islamic feature dispute[edit]

In November 2017, Chinese users discovered the Salah (Islamic prayer) notification feature in Huawei Mate 10 phone, on the company's website for Mainland China. It was viewed as an unjustified promotion of Islam given that Muslim is a minority religious group in Mainland China that make up only about 1-2% population. Significant backlash have been formed on Chinese internet and some even tried to boycott Huawei phones for including such feature, and make fun of the phone by calling it "the first phone with Halal prayer feature" and describe the event as "Islamic conversion of Huawei".[163][164][165][166]

Later, Huawei published an official statement via Sina Weibo,[167] claim that the feature was only a personalized notification service designed for "certain oversea region" that was not available in China. Netizens questioned why promotion of that feature was available on the company's Chinese website in the first place if that was not the intended area but those comments were deleted before getting any response. A Taoist priest commented that the mosque-finding service in the device was also available in mainland China, inconsistent with the official explanation about these religious features.[168] After Huawei published the official statement, many news report and discussion made on Chinese online media or Chinese discussion platforms were made inaccessible or removed from the internet.[169][170][171]

Chou Tzu-yu Republic of China flag incident[edit]

In January 2016, people found out that Chou Tzu-yu, a Taiwanese artist performing at South Korea and endorsed the Huawei Y6 in advertisement beforehand, was displaying the flag of Republic of China in a Korean entertainment show and accused the artist's behavior as supporting Taiwanese independence. As a response to the discovery, Huawei announced on the official forum that the arrangement was decided by their South Korean carrier partner LG U+ and they have already told LG U+ to terminate their cooperation with Chou Tzu-yu and her agency company.[172][173] However LG U+ rejected the statement and claim their contract with the artist are still valid despite disputes.[174][175] Chinese netizens have called for boycotting Huawei phones as a form of protest.[176]


In year 2001, during the 2001–02 India–Pakistan standoff, Indian government alleged Huawei India subdivision for selling telecommunication gear to Pakistan, however Indian government did not give details to the nature of equipment involved in their allegation.[177]


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