Tech & Science

Huawei dominates MWC mobile tech fair despite U.S. sanctions

Barcelona, ​​Spain –

A group of Chinese companies led by tech giant Huawei The world’s largest wireless trade fair Show their power in the face of Western countries blacklisting Huawei over cybersecurity concerns and escalating tensions with the US over TikTok, spy balloons and computer chips turned into an opportunity.

After three years of pandemic disruption, MWC is also known as Mobile World Congress. MWC is the annual tech industry expo, which begins Monday, where mobile phone makers showcase new devices and telecom industry executives peruse the latest networking gear and software.

Of the 2,000 exhibitors and sponsors, 150 are Chinese companies, with Huawei Technologies Ltd. having the largest presence. According to organizers, the smartphone and networking equipment maker has expanded its footprint by 50 percent since last year and now occupies almost the entire expansive exhibition hall of Barcelona’s Fira Convention Center.

This is surprising given that Huawei is at the center of a geopolitical battle for global tech supremacy, with parts of its business crippled by Western sanctions.

Three years ago, the United States told European allies such as the United Kingdom and Sweden to ban or restrict Huawei equipment on their phone networks, citing Beijing’s threats to use it for cyber-snooping and sabotaging critical communications infrastructure. Huawei has repeatedly denied it, although it succeeded in lobbying them to do so. Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Canada have also taken similar measures.

Brian Chamberlin, an executive adviser to Huawei’s Wireless Carrier Group, said “the sanctions have had a significant impact,” but the company “does not intend to break these rules.”

“But at the same time, we will not delay innovation and the delivery of innovative solutions,” he said at the expo. “We will continue to do business with companies and countries that need our support.”

John Strand, a Danish telecommunications industry consultant, said Huawei’s massive presence at the show was a sign of defiance.

Speaking of the US president, Mr. Strand said Huawei “wanted to give Mr. Biden a finger.” The company’s message read, “Despite US sanctions, we are alive and doing well,” he said.

Technological tensions between the US and China are only rising.

A suspected Chinese spy balloon shot down by a U.S. fighter has sparked a confrontation between Beijing and Washington in recent weeks.

US officials have banned TikTok from devices issued to government employees over concerns that the popular Chinese-owned video-sharing app is a data privacy risk or could be used to spread pro-China narratives. has been banned.

The U.S. is also seeking to sign major allies Japan and the Netherlands to limit China’s access to facilities for manufacturing advanced semiconductors.

Following the MWC Expo four years ago, it has become a battleground between the US and China over the security of Huawei and next-generation wireless networks. During a keynote speech, Huawei executives trolled the United States for asking allies to keep the company’s equipment away.

Huawei is not gone. Washington expanded sanctions last month with new restrictions on exports of less-sophisticated technology components to Huawei.

Yet the company remains the number one network equipment maker in the world, thanks to sales in China and other markets where Washington has been less successful in persuading the government to boycott the company.

A 26-year MWC attendee, Strand told the world that Huawei would pivot away from manufacturing networking equipment primarily to become hidden plumbing equipment such as base stations and antennas that connect mobile devices around the world. Said he wanted to show technology supplier.

The company hopes to reduce its vulnerability to Washington by providing hardware and software for freight ports, self-driving cars, factories and other industries.

“MWC is a global event, so they[Huawei]have communicated about it and are still a major player in the telecom and tech industries,” said Thomas Hasson, principal analyst at Forrester Research. I would like to show

Huawei’s Chamberlin said the company’s huge presence is simply due to “pent-up demand.”

“We have been stuck in China for the past three years due to COVID restrictions, so this was the first time we were really able to engage with our customers,” he said.

Huawei, which also makes smartphones, saw its sales plummet outside China after Google blocked it from offering maps, YouTube and other services typically preloaded on Android devices.

“Huawei’s consumer brand has collapsed in Europe,” Hasson said. At MWC, he said, “Huawei may announce new consumer smartphones and new consumer devices, but the brand has lost momentum and these announcements are primarily for fast-growing markets outside the US and Western Europe. is.”

At Huawei’s pavilion, staff showed visitors the latest 5G antennas and equipment for the older generation cellular networks that make up the bulk of the company’s business. Inside the VIP area, optical network switches and new flexible fiber cables for home networking were on display, while other consumer devices such as smartphones and earphones were placed at the entrance.

Huawei is only part of the Chinese delegation, which has been boosted by China’s lifting of all COVID-19 travel restrictions. ZTE, another Chinese tech company that has been sanctioned by the US, is planning a product launch at MWC.

CCS Insight chief analyst Ben Wood said Chinese mobile phone makers Honor, Oppo and Xiaomi will have a strong presence. Honor was Huawei’s lower-priced brand, but was sold in 2020 in hopes of reviving sales by decoupling it from sanctions on its parent company.

“The lifting of COVID restrictions in China has forced these manufacturers to attend the show,” Wood said. We are passionate about establishing ourselves as the ‘choice of choice’ and see MWC as a pivotal event to that end.”

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