China-based electronic company Huawei is selling laptops in the United States for $1,200, and according to Techspot and other electronic review sites, it rivals the Apple MacBook while being roughly $100 cheaper. However, the FBI discourages Americans from purchasing Huawei products and government workers may soon be barred from using them.
“We’re 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,” FBI Director Chris Wray said in congressional testimony in February (CNBC).
Huawei has long faced accusations of helping the Chinese government conduct espionage, according to the New York Times. The fear is that China would use Huawei products to spy on U.S. citizens if allowed to enter the American market. Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said in a 2013 interview there is hard evidence that Huawei shares telecommunications of its users in foreign countries.
Rep. Mike Conaway introduced legislation on May 22 that would block federal government employees from using Huawei products as well as ZTE products. ZTE is a separate China electronic company that was sanctioned by the U.S. Commerce Department for selling products in Iran. President Donald J. Trump later proposed reducing the punitive actions in a controversial decision.
The law mainly targets smartphones, which Huawei is more known for selling, especially in Asia. Breaking into the U.S. phone market has been more a challenge than laptops though. Verizon and AT&T walked away from deals with Huawei after political pressure from Washington, leaving the company without the ability to offer call and data packages to their customers (Bloomberg).
This WikiTribune story is dedicated to reporting on Huawei and ZTE in the U.S. market.
Ideas to Explore
- How could Huawei and ZTE build smartphones in a way that would allow the Chinese government spy (camera or voice) on command. (This is a technical question).
- How is this different than what the U.S. government can do with electronic equipment?
- Are Apple, Samsung and other major electronic manufacturers lobbying lawmakers to stop Huawei’s entry into the U.S. market?
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- David Harris. Author of China Law Blog, and partner at Harris Bricken law firm.
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Things to fact check
- Huawei can sell its ‘Honor7’ Android phone in North America for $200 thanks to vertical integration (ZDNet)
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