Many question marks hang over the telecom but the Chinese tech monolith is far from finished

The Chinese telecom company Huawei is at the centre of an increasingly tense standoff between China and the US.

What began as a trade spat and grievances over corporate intellectual property theft has developed into a global standoff involving “hostage diplomacy”, death sentences and allegations of Chinese espionage.

Huawei’s senior executive Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada in December over allegations of sanctions violations and awaits extradition to the US. Meanwhile, three Canadians remain in police custody in China; one of them was sentenced to death this month. Washington, meanwhile, has said it will file a formal extradition request for Meng by the 30 January deadline.

The US is reportedly investigating Huawei for stealing trade secrets while US lawmakers are calling for a ban on selling American-made chips and other components to the company.

Last week, Vodafone became the latest company to flag concerns over Huawei, announcing a decision to “pause” use of the company’s equipment in its core mobile phone networks. Oxford University and the Prince’s Trust, Prince Charles’s charity, said this month they would no longer accept donations from Huawei.

Huawei and its defenders have tried to paint the company as an innocent bystander, politicised against its will. Global Times editor Hu Xijin tweeted this month that: “By escalating its crackdown on Huawei, the US sets a bad precedent of applying McCarthyism in hi-tech fields. It deprives a hi-tech company of the rights to stay away from politics, focus on technology and market.”

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