Huawei and the Trump debacle: The story so far (Updated September 9)

The headlines and details concerning the Trump administration’s blacklisting of Huawei have come in fast and furious over the past week. Here’s a breakdown of how the story has unfolded.

For a more detailed historical look at how Huawei has reached this point, check out our full summary here.

Wednesday, May 15:

The Trump administration adds Huawei to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Entity List via executive order, thereby blacklisting the company as far as U.S. corporations are concerned.

Sunday, May 19:

Google publicly states it will obey the administration’s order: “We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications. For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices. Huawei will only be able to use the public version of Android and will not be able to get access to proprietary apps and services from Google.”

  • What does the Huawei ban mean for your Huawei or Honor phone?
  • Should you buy a Huawei device right now?

Monday, May 20:

Intel and Qualcomm join Google: Neither company issued a statement, but sources cited by Bloomberg said the companies would comply with the order.

Huawei issues first public response: “Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry. [We] will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally. We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.”

Huawei issues second public response: “Huawei has been building an alternative operating system just in case it is needed,” said spokesperson Glenn Schloss to CNN. “We would like to be able to continue operating in the Microsoft and Google ecosystems.”

Further reading: Huawei’s response to Google ban raises more questions than answers

Chinese government issues statement: “China supports Chinese companies defending their legitimate rights according to laws,” said Lu Kang, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to CNN. “In terms of what measures either Chinese companies or Chinese government would take, please wait and see.”

Huawei says plan B in the works: The company has an option to move forward without Google, according to several spokespersons. “We have been making a plan for this possible outcome,” said Huawei’s Jeremy Thompson, executive vice president in the U.K, speaking to the BBC. “We have a parallel program in place to develop an alternative. We would rather work with Android but if it doesn’t happen in the future we have an alternative in place which we think will delight our customers.”

U.S. signs 90-day reprieve: On May 20, the Trump administration’s Commerce Department issued a temporary license that will allow Huawei to maintain its current products (for existing customers). The license expires August 19, which will essentially bring the full weight of the ban to bear.

Huawei P30 Pro and Huawei P30 speaker grills and selfie camera

Tuesday, May 21:

Huawei founder gets testy: Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei has strong words for Trump’s ban, according to Global Times. “The company is able to continue providing products and services, and the U.S. sanctions will not hurt our core business. In such a critical moment, I’m grateful to U.S. companies, as they’ve contributed a lot to Huawei’s development and showed their conscientiousness on the matter. As far as I know, U.S. companies have been making efforts to persuade the U.S. government to let them cooperate with Huawei.”

Huawei says it is working with Google: “[Google has] zero motivation to block us. We are working closely with Google to find out how Huawei can handle the situation and the impact from the U.S. Department of Commerce decision,” said Abraham Liu, a rep for Huawei in the E.U. Liu also likened the Trump administration’s behavior to bullying. “This is not just an attack against Huawei. It is an attack on the liberal, rules-based order.”

More plan B details emerge: While not sourced from Huawei, additional details concerning Plan B have leaked. Beijing-based Caijing says Huawei has an OS in the works that could replace the Android OS on its phones while still running Android apps.

Wednesday, May 22:

Arm suspends business dealings with Huawei: British chip designer Arm told its employees to halt conducting business with Huawei. “Arm is complying with all of the latest regulations set forth by the U.S. government,” said Arm in a statement. Huawei later acknowledged the action. “We value our close relationships with our partners, but recognize the pressure some of them are under, as a result of politically motivated decisions. We are confident this regrettable situation can be resolved and our priority remains to continue to deliver world-class technology and products to our customers around the world.”

Thursday, May 23:

TSMC says it can still do business with Huawei: A spokesperson for Taiwan’s TSMC reportedly said its shipments to Huawei won’t be affected by the current U.S. restrictions. The chip manufacturer is responsible for producing Huawei’s Kirin smartphone chipsets, while processors from Apple, MediaTek, and Qualcomm are also churned out by the firm. The company’s continued cooperation means Huawei won’t need to search for another manufacturer to produce its Kirin processors.

Trump open to dealing with “very dangerous” Huawei: President Trump has called Huawei “very dangerous,” but said the U.S. is open to including the company as part of a future trade agreement between the U.S. and China.

Trump was quoted as saying: “If we made a deal, I could imagine Huawei being possibly included in some form or some part of it.” This could be a good development for Huawei, though Trump also reaffirmed suspicions about the threat Huawei potentially poses to the U.S. “You look at what [Huawei has] done from a security standpoint, a military standpoint. Very dangerous,” Trump said.

Friday, May 24:

Huawei barred from SD card organization: As first spotted by SumahoInfo, the SD Association currently has Huawei de-listed on its website. In a statement sent to Android Authority, the SD Association confirmed that it is complying with the U.S. government order and barring Huawei from the association. This will not affect current Huawei smartphones, but could cause major issues for future devices.

Huawei pushed out of Wi-Fi Alliance: Similarly to the barring of Huawei from the SD Association above, the Wi-Fi Alliance also temporarily revoked Huawei’s membership to its own organization. The Alliance had this to say in a statement to Android Authority: “Wi-Fi Alliance is fully complying with the recent U.S. Department of Commerce order without revoking Huawei Technologies membership. Wi-Fi Alliance has temporarily restricted Huawei Technologies participation in Wi-Fi Alliance activities covered by the order.”

Monday, May 27:

Huawei claims it wouldn’t support bans of American companies: Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei told Bloomberg that he would protest a Chinese ban against Apple, calling the Cupertino company his “teacher.” In regards to a Chinese ban on American companies, he said, “That will not happen, first of all. And second of all, if that happens, I’ll be the first to protest. Apple is my teacher, it’s in the lead. As a student, why go against my teacher? Never.” So it seems that Apple, at least, is safe.

Tuesday, May 28:

Huawei sues, says the ban is unconstitutional: Huawei filed a legal motion claiming the ban on the company working with other U.S.-based companies violates the U.S. Constitution. In its argument, Huawei says that the ban violates a constitutional law stating that Congress cannot make laws against specific individuals. Huawei feels this ban violates that clause.

TSMC will continue to work with Huawei: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will continue to make chips for Huawei, the company confirmed. This goes in opposition to other global manufacturers complying with the U.S. ban (TSMC is not obliged to commit to the ban). Although TSMC will continue its relationship with Huawei until at least the end of the year, the other bans might still have a negative effect on TSMC’s business.

Huawei’s replacement OS will not arrive in June: A rumor started to spread online that Huawei OS — the replacement for Android on future Huawei smartphones — will land in June 2019. The source of this rumor was actually a Huawei employee. However, Huawei quickly shot down the rumor as just that, stating that any announcements regarding Huawei’s Android replacement will come through proper channels.

Wednesday, May 29:

Huawei rejoins three consortiums: Only a few days after getting pushed out of three consortiums, Huawei is now suddenly a member of all of them again. Huawei was relisted as a member in the Wi-Fi Alliance, the SD Association, and JEDEC. This is some much-needed good news for the company, although it’s not quite clear what this means for the ban overall.

Science publishing group IEEE boots Huawei employees as reviewers: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (or IEEE) is in charge of publishing scientific journals. However, due to the Huawei ban, the U.S.-based organization can no longer allow Huawei employees to peer review those journals. This information leaked via an economics professor on Twitter.

Friday, May 31:

China threatens to create its own ‘Entity List’ to include American firms: According to a spokesman for China’s commerce industry, China will create an Entity List of its own. Even though the spokesman didn’t call out the U.S. or U.S.-based companies, the implication is that China’s Entity List will include U.S.-based companies.

Huawei employees ordered not to attend U.S. meetings: According to the Financial Times, Huawei ordered employees to cancel technical meetings with American contacts. Huawei also reportedly sent back American citizens who worked in research and development roles.

Thursday, June 6:

Huawei will build a 5G network for Russia’s largest carrier: Amidst the U.S. government’s Huawei ban, the company is now poised to build out a 5G network for Russian telco MTS. The carrier has 78 million subscribers and owns 31 percent of the Russian market.

Huawei CFO will fight the U.S. to stay in Canada: Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is currently under house arrest in Canada. In early 2020, she will go on trial and face extradition to the U.S. where she would be charged with fraud. However, she will fight to stay in Canada and avoid extradition.

Friday, June 7:

Facebook will no longer pre-install its apps on Huawei devices: According to Reuters, Facebook will no longer allow Huawei to pre-install any of its apps on the company’s smartphones. These apps include Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, three of the most popular apps in the world. The ban only applies to phones that have not yet left the factory.

Monday, June 10:

Huawei is building up its app store: According to XDA Developers, Huawei is recruiting Play Store developers to work on porting their apps to the company’s AppGallery just in case the U.S. ban holds and Huawei is forced to go it alone.

Wednesday, June 12:

The first major casualty of the Huawei ban is the new MateBook: Huawei consumer CEO Richard Yu told CNBC that an upcoming MateBook laptop has been put on indefinite hold due to the situation. “We cannot supply the PC,” he was quoted as saying.

Huawei’s trip to number one will be slower than originally expected: Shao Yang, chief strategy officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group, admitted that Huawei’s planned ascension to become the top global smartphone manufacturer wouldn’t happen by the end of 2019 as originally planned. On Tuesday (via The New York Times), he said, “[Huawei] would have become the largest in the fourth quarter (of this year) but now we feel that this process may take longer.”

Thursday, June 13:

Huawei files a trademark for HongMeng OS: Huawei has filed a trademark application for HongMeng in at least nine countries as well as Europe (via Reuters). It’s not clear if this means HongMeng will be the name for its Android-replacement OS across the world or if Oak OS will take its place. It’s likely Huawei is attempting to trademark HongMeng globally just so other brands don’t use it, but Oak OS will be the global name.

However, Huawei could also be looking into Sailfish OS: Although Huawei is working on its own operating system to potentially replace Android, it could simultaneously be looking into a Russian-made fork of Linux-based Sailfish OS.

Canada will likely follow through on extradition of Huawei CFO: Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland dismissed the idea of Ottawa blocking the extradition of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou to the United States, saying it would set a dangerous precedent (via Reuters).

Friday, June 14:

Huawei Mate X delayed: As one would expect, the Huawei Mate X — the first foldable device from the company — is getting a delayed release. This is likely due not only to the Huawei ban but also to the debacle surrounding the botched release of the Samsung Galaxy Fold.

EMUI software based on Android Q leaks: Although Huawei is barred from using Android for the moment, the beta of Android Q launched before the ban took effect. As such, it looks like Huawei is still pushing forward with developing EMUI 10, likely in case the ban lifts.

Monday, June 17:

Huawei ban could cost the company over $30 billion: Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei has revealed a rather massive nugget of information that puts the struggle in perspective. “Our revenue will be down by about $30 billion compared to forecasts. So our sales revenue this year and next will be about $100 billion,” he said.

Huge drop in sales expected for Huawei: Bloomberg reports that Huawei is expecting international smartphone sales to drop by 40 to 60 percent due to the ban. The outlet, citing several sources, says internal estimates are that there’ll be a sales drop of roughly 40 to 60 million devices this year.

Thursday, June 20:

Huawei and Honor phones confirmed to get Android Q: Despite the Huawei ban still in full effect with no signs of letting up, the company has committed to bringing Android Q to at least two of its major device lines: the Huawei P30 series and Honor 20 series.

Friday, June 21:

Huawei files lawsuit against U.S. Department of Commerce: In an expected move, Huawei officially filed a suit against the United States related to the Huawei ban. The company is suing the agency over telecommunications equipment seized by American officials.

FedEx refuses to deliver a package with Huawei smartphone inside: In what FedEx dubbed “a mistake,” a package was returned to the sender due to the contents: a Huawei smartphone. An explanation on the returned package cited the Huawei ban as the reason.

Thursday, June 27:

The Huawei P30 series smashes sales record of P20 series: In a bit of good news for Huawei, the company’s most recent flagship device series outsold its predecessor series buy a huge margin. It is unlikely that the sales trend will continue with the ban in full effect, though.

Saturday, June 29:

Trump announces there will be a partial lift to the Huawei ban: U.S. companies will be allowed to work with Huawei again, President Trump announced in a news conference. On the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Trump said “U.S. companies can sell their equipment to Huawei,” without going into detail. “We’re talking about equipment where there’s no great national security problem with it,” Trump continued. It’s not clear what this means for now, but it’s likely Huawei will be able to acquire basic components like Qualcomm processors and Google’s Android OS.

Wednesday, July 3:

Commerce Department still blacklisting Huawei: Although President Trump said that at least some aspects of the Huawei ban would be lifted, an internal memo in the U.S. Department of Commerce suggests that the company is still getting the blacklist treatment.

Friday, July 5:

Government moves to dismiss Huawei lawsuit: In March, Huawei filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government claiming that the country’s blacklisting of its networking products is illegal. On Wednesday, the U.S. government filed an official motion to have that lawsuit dismissed.

Wednesday, July 10:

U.S. clarifies Huawei trade ban status: On July 3, we told you about how there is some confusion regarding Huawei’s trade ban status. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told a conference that licenses to sell to Huawei will be issued if there’s no security threat, which means President Trump’s statements on June 29 are now getting placed into effect.

Monday, July 15:

Huawei trademarks another OS name: First, we saw Huawei trademarks for HongMeng and Oak, which seemingly suggested new operating system names. Now we have another trademarked name: Harmony. Is this the name of Huawei’s Android replacement?

Huawei planning massive layoffs in U.S.: According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Huawei will lay off “hundreds” of employees based in the United States. Chinese citizens currently living in the U.S. will have the option to come back to China for reassignment, while U.S. citizens will be let go.

Wednesday, July 17:

Huawei smartphone market share way down: We’re starting to slowly see the negative effects of the Huawei ban on the company’s sales. Huawei market share in Europe is down by 9 percent when comparing June 2019 to May 2019.

Friday, July 19:

Huawei says HongMeng OS is not for smartphones: Huawei has clarified that the leaked information regarding HongMeng OS — its supposed Android replacement — is not intended for use on smartphones. However, the company would not give clear information on what it is actually for.

Monday, July 22:

Huawei involvement with North Korea is exposed: A new report from The Washington Post suggests that Huawei worked closely with North Korea to build out that country’s internal wireless network. If true, this would be in direct violation of multiple international laws and treaties.

Wednesday, July 24:

Huawei still has big smartphone ambitions: Although Huawei smartphone shipments and sales have already taken major hits, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei thinks the company can still reach 270 million units shipped in 2019. That’s actually a higher shipment estimate than the company planned before the trade ban started, which is quite interesting.

U.K. can’t find a technical reason not to use Huawei networking gear: Two commissions in the United Kingdom — both made up of prominent business, technology, and education leads — found “no technical reason” to not use Huawei equipment in the rollout of 5G networks in the U.K. However, both commissions conceded that geo-political considerations must be made.

Monday, July 29:

There was a Huawei/Google smart speaker on the way: Before the Huawei ban went into effect, Google and Huawei had planned a smart speaker. The speaker would have been made and sold by Huawei and featured Google Assistant support. This speaker would have been sold in the U.S., Huawei’s first major product in years in the U.S. market.

Tuesday, July 30:

Somehow, Huawei saw a smartphone shipment spike: Despite the Huawei ban, the company reported some very strong results. The Chinese manufacturer reported that it shipped 118 million smartphones in the first half of the year. This is a 24 percent increase over H1 2018 when it shipped 95 million units.

Monday, August 5:

Rumor points to HongMeng OS phone launching this year: Despite the fact that Huawei categorically said HongMeng OS will not be used in smartphones, a new rumor from Chinese publication Global Times says that the company could launch a HongMeng OS phone alongside the Huawei Mate 30 series later this Fall.

Wednesday, August 7:

China won’t sit idly if India blocks Huawei: India still hasn’t decided on whether to use Huawei equipment in its 5G network or not. China has now declared that if India attempts to block Huawei it will fight back through trade sanctions on India.

Friday, August 9:

Huawei officially launches Harmony OS: Huawei just announced Harmony OS. The new, open-source platform is ostensibly the final name for its Hongmeng OS. Harmony OS is “the first microkernel-based distributed OS for all scenarios,” consumer group CEO Richard Yu told attendees at the Huawei Developer Conference. The new platform supports smartphones, smart speakers, computers, smartwatches, wireless earbuds, cars, and tablets. However, Huawei simultaneously committed to keep using Android in its smartphones as long as it can.

Trump says “we are not going to do business with Huawei”: Although the trade ban against Huawei has exceptions, President Trump seemed to counteract that system of exceptions when he announced during a press conference: “We’re not going to do business with Huawei. That doesn’t mean we won’t agree to something if and when we make a trade deal, but we’re not going to be doing business with Huawei.” Allegedly, the system put in place to determine which firms have access to Huawei is suspended.

Monday, August 19:

Huawei’s 90-day reprieve extended by another 90 days: The U.S. gave Huawei a 90-day reprieve following the trade ban against the manufacturer in May. The trade ban, which allows U.S. companies to maintain business ties with Huawei, expired August 19.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross confirmed that the U.S. government will actually extend that reprieve for another 90 days immediately following the previous reprieve. This means the Chinese brand is able to keep buying products and services from U.S. companies to service existing customers and devices.

Huawei sent Android Authority an official response to the 90-day extension. There were two main aspects to the statement: the company stating that it is unhappy with still being on the Entity List and then declaring that the very existence of the list is bad for consumers around the world.

Thursday, August 29:

Huawei Mate 30 series tipped for delay in West due to U.S. trade ban: The South China Morning Post reports that overseas sales of the Mate 30 series might be delayed due to the U.S. trade ban, citing people familiar with the plans. The outlet’s sources say the phones will continue to run Android, but that they won’t offer the likes of the Play Store and Google Maps. SCMP‘s sources caution that the plan isn’t final and that further U.S. government action might affect the move.

Friday, August 30:

U.S. reportedly received 130 license requests to sell to Huawei, none granted: The White House made an abrupt turnaround of sorts in June when President Donald Trump announced that some U.S. companies would be allowed to deal with Huawei. The Commerce Department stated at the time that licenses would be granted to U.S. companies wanting to deal with Huawei, as long as there were no security risks involved. Since then, Reuters reported that the department has received 130 license applications to sell goods and services to Huawei, none of which have been granted.

Huawei confirms new Android phones with Google apps coming: Huawei South Africa confirmed that it will release at least two new smartphones by the end of this year that will feature a fully-licensed version of Android. That means Google apps will be on board.

The devices in question are the Huawei Nova 5T and the Huawei Y9 S. This isn’t the first time a Huawei phone with Google support was widely launched after the ban though, as was the case for the Honor 20 series and Y9 Prime 2019.

Sunday, September 1:

Huawei Mate 30 series launch date confirmed: Huawei has confirmed a September 19 launch date for the Mate 30 series in Munich, Germany. Even though we have a release date, the biggest questions about the Mate 30 Pro are still up in the air. It will run Android, but will it have access to the Google Play Store and Google Play Services? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, September 3:

Huawei accuses US of cyberattacks, employee harassment, but supplies no evidence: Towards the end of August, The Wall Street Journal published an article that focused on allegations of patent infringement against Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei. The company then published a press release in response to that article September 3, in which it defends itself against the accusations.

At the end of the press release, Huawei goes on to lists nine very serious accusations against the United States government with no evidence to prove the accusation. The unedited accusation list is as follows:

  • Instructing law enforcement to threaten, menace, coerce, entice, and incite both current and former Huawei employees to turn against the company and work for them
  • Unlawfully searching, detaining, and even arresting Huawei employees and Huawei partners
  • Attempting entrapment, or pretending to be Huawei employees to establish legal pretense for unfounded accusations against the company
  • Launching cyber attacks to infiltrate Huawei’s intranet and internal information systems
  • Sending FBI agents to the homes of Huawei employees and pressuring them to collect information on the company
  • Mobilizing and conspiring with companies that work with Huawei, or have a business conflict with Huawei, to bring unsubstantiated accusations against the company
  • Launching investigations based on false media reports that target the company
  • Digging up old civil cases that have already been settled, and selectively launching criminal investigations or filing criminal charges against Huawei based on claims of technology theft
  • Obstructing normal business activities and technical communications through intimidation, denying visas, detaining shipment, etc.

Monday, September 9:

U.S. is treating Huawei unfairly, says Microsoft: In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said the U.S. government’s actions toward Huawei shouldn’t be taken without a “sound basis in fact, logic, and the rule of law.”

In the interview, Smith said Microsoft approached U.S. regulators and asked for their reasoning behind the ban.

“Oftentimes, what we get in response is, ‘Well, if you knew what we knew, you would agree with us.’ And our answer to that is, ‘Great, show us what you know so we can decide for ourselves.’”

Smith also said President Donald Trump should know better and cited President Trump’s experience in the hotel industry.

“To tell a tech company that it can sell products, but not buy an operating system or chips, is like telling a hotel company that it can open its doors, but not put beds in its hotel rooms or food in its restaurant. Either way, you put the survival of that company at risk.”

What will happen with Huawei next?

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