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Op-Ed: Google cuts off Huawei’s Android licence adding to its troubles

News first reported by Reuters

The Reuters report said: “Alphabet Inc’s Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday, in a blow to the Chinese technology company that the U.S. government has sought to blacklist around the world.”

What Huawei smartphones lose

The move by Google means that Huawei will lose access to updates to the Android operating system except when they become available on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). The next version of the Android smartphone will also not be able to access popular services such as the Google Play Store, Gmail and YouTube apps. Huawei will only be able to get the public version of Android AOSP but not access to proprietary apps and services that Google provided before. Customers outside of China expect these proprietary apps and services on their phones. The Android operating system and AOSP are described by this Wikipedia article.

Trump administration has blacklisted Huawei
As Sky News reported recently: “Donald Trump has declared a “national emergency” as his administration imposed severe sanctions on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.The president signed an executive order which – while it did not name Huawei – bars US companies from using telecommunications equipment made by firms deemed to pose a national security risk.”

The US government fears that China may use Huawei to spy on American networks. Back in 2018 US intelligence agencies warned against using Huawei and ZTE devices. Some US politician have claimed that Huawei is “effectively an arm of the Chinese government.” The US has tried to get EU countries to ban Huawei from 5G networks.

The Huawei denies that the Chinese government can use trapdoors in its equipment for spying and has even guaranteed Germany a “no-spy” guarantee as reported in a recent Digital Journal article. Last month another Digital Journal article discussed Huawei as a security risk.

US and Google’s actions will hurt Huawei

Now a huge US-based global corporation has joined the US government in actions that threaten Huawei’s ability to successfully market its products. The US uses bullying and threats to ensure that other countries follow its own policy when it can. However, the US policies may cause a backlash. Foreign countries may decide to develop their own technology rather than licence the software from US companies if a US company will not provide it to them perhaps for security reasons or under pressure from the US government. So far Google has not explained the reason for its move.

Huawei is already creating its own operating system. While this may bring even more suspicion on Huawei from some quarters it means that the company is developing its own technology which could prove superior and it also will develop its own apps. taking away some of the market from Google.

Together with the blacklisting announcement by Trump, the Google move can only add to the tensions in the trade war of the US and China. China is even less likely now to return to the bargaining table.

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