Light Reading

Huawei Names US Lead, Reminds Us It's Still Here

Dan O'Shea
5/21/2014
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Is Chinese vendor giant Huawei still paying attention to the US market, and, if so, how much? Is it business as usual for Huawei here, or is the company lying low, waiting for the US government's concerns about Huawei's alleged threat to national security to blow over?

No one really knows the answers for certain, but one thing is clear: Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is paying enough attention to the US market that it has put a new man in charge of its US operations. The company elevated veteran carrier and enterprise markets executive Ming He into that role, based out of Huawei's US headquarters in Plano, Texas. (See He Heads Huawei US Operations.)

There isn't much to be gleaned from Huawei's statement on the move, out Wednesday, though here at Light Reading we are taking it as a sign that we should swing the dial on our giant "Huawei's US Ambitions Meter" from "Not-Paying-Much-Attention" to "Paying-A-Little-More-Attention." Presumably, Huawei wants him (He) to do more than sit at a desk in his hopefully well air conditioned Plano office and twiddle his thumbs.

Huawei picked an interesting time for this announcement, as the security controversy has not lost any steam, and actually may have picked up some recently. In March, documents supplied to The New York Times and Der Spiegel by Light Reading Hall of Famer Edward Snowden showed that the US National Security Agency spied on Huawei and the Chinese government. More recently, former NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander, in an interview with the Australian Financial Review, praised Australia's banning of Huawei from that country's National Broadband Network project.

On top of all that, Huawei made this announcement just days after the US alleged that members of the Chinese military hacked into the databases of a couple of US companies. We're not saying Huawei had anything to do with that, but it's the kind of thing that would have caused some companies in Huawei's position to put off a major personnel announcement in a market where it's at the center of a separate spying controversy.

Meanwhile, usually quiet Huawei Chairman Ren Zhengfei said recently in The Wall Street Journal that the US is a "great nation" and seemed to indicate that, despite current perceptions, Huawei is not giving up on the US market in the long run.

Again, nothing about Huawei's status relative to the US market ever seems too certain. We could very well find tomorrow that we need to swing our giant dial back again. I hope not -- my back is killing me.

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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brookseven
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brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/29/2014 | 5:22:41 PM
Re: Huawei in the US
Mitch,

Here is my look into the future.  About 30 years from now, the Chinese ask for a State or 2 as payment for the debt.  Since we will no longer have a Navy (as we won't have had any money), when we say no...they will just invade and take whichever states they want.  I disagree with your notion of paranoia, as I don't see it in many Empires.  Most of them are built on greed for money, power or both.  Some examples are:  Spanish, US, British, Mongol, Persian, and several forms of the Egyptian.

And yes - all countries spy.  That is what they do (like the story of the Frog and Scorpion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Scorpion_and_the_Frog ).  I just don't see why we should allow the Chinese government as our primary enemy in the world free access to spy on us.  Just like I think it is a really bad idea to hand over the latest military technology to them.  Guess what, the Brits are spying on us.  So are the Canadians.  I care a whole lot less about that.   Yes, North Korea is bad.  But they are little and the US could give them a swift backhand any day we felt like it.  Same with Iran.  China is a different level of challenge.

By the way, what I take out of the Snowden affair and Wikileaks is something more akin http://www.collegehumor.com/video/6937382/america-sucks-less-is-your-new-national-anthem

seven
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/29/2014 | 2:08:59 PM
Re: Huawei in the US
As you say, China is playing the financial game. It's a long game. They cut their own throats if they sell products that sabotage the customer. Which gets us back to Point A: Companies shouldn't boycott Huawei just because they're Chinese. But they should be careful of government-sponsored spyware. And the Snowden revelations teach us that government-sponsored spyware is everywhere; the US does it too. 

As for Russia's paranoia: That kind of paranoia is exactly what drives most empires. Great Britain and the White Man's Burden is the exception; most empires think of themselves as just protecting their own borders by adding buffer states.

[Russia's[ only active aggressive (not through proxies) war since WWI was in Afghanistan. 

Whether aggression is direct or through proxies doesn't matter to the people who are the targets of aggression. 
brookseven
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brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/28/2014 | 4:15:04 PM
Re: Huawei in the US
Mitch,

Again, you and I will have to agree to disagree.  

Russia is a paranoid state and has been that way since the days of Ivan the Terrible.  The reason is that Russia gets invaded from both the East and West regularly.  This started with the Mongols and the last two times it was done by the Germans.  Russia wants its enemies (everyone not Russian) nicely far away.  To do this, they create a Buffer - see the Warsaw Pact - in the West.  In the East, they conquered Central Asia and pushed all the way to the Pacific.  The only active aggressive (not through proxies) war since WWI was in Afghanistan.  Part of the purpose of this was the challenge of having a multi-cultural Empire.

Putin does not want the Ukraine to become part of the EU.  That move puts "The West" right on the borders of Russia and the old paranoia erupted once again.  As long as he could have a puppet in Kiev that was dependent on Moscow, nothing happened.  Russia has learned a couple of things and was relatively happy having puppet states along its borders to absorb what they view is as the next invasion.

China is different.  Just ask Vietnam.  Would you have called Rome a regional power?  I guess so as the ancient world could not really have a global power.  But from the Chinese perspective, all outside the Empire were barbarians.  You should probably also ask the Koreans about this.  Remember about the time that regional powers could become global, the Chinese Empire fell into decline.  It is just now recovering.  Remember they looked at "The West" as rather pitiful and found out too late that they had not kept up technologically.  So, it imprints in our minds this view of weakness.  

Now for the very bad news.  The Chinese are horribly patient. They are playing a much more subtle game of expansion.  Their big issue right now is energy and found a new friend in Moscow to be a big supplier for them.  They are working on various parties in the Middle East to get oil.  And the Chinese are very good at supporting great engineering works in foreign lands.  They are playing a nice slow game, one that takes generations.  Right now they know they can not stand up to the US militarily, but are using their cheap currency to bury our industries.  On top of that they have focused their energies on things that are quite useful like telecom.  I tell any young person in the today to not bother with a Science career, the vast bulk of the jobs in 20 years will be in China.  For example, you might want to read this:

http://money.cnn.com/2010/07/29/news/international/china_engineering_grads.fortune/index.htm

Let me ask - who is playing the better game according to Sun Tzu right now?  The guy forcing a confrontation or the guy collecting everyone's money?

seven
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/28/2014 | 3:50:31 PM
Re: Huawei in the US
seven - Wonderful animated GIF showing the borders of China for the past 3,000 years. 

Three thousand years. China is an ancient nation. We have nothing like it in the West. 

And throughout that period, while it has grown, it has remained a regional power -- albeit a region that encompasses a sizeable fraction of the whole human race. China today is actually smaller than during the Qing Dynasty in 1892. 

I mentioned before that Russia today is playing the old game of Empire. China and US are playing the same game: Making money. They're more a trading partner than a threat. 

That's not to say we should trust them. No nation can trust any other. And no individual or business can trust any nation -- not even their own. 
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/28/2014 | 3:45:05 PM
Re: Huawei in the US
brookseven - I was under the impression that China's borders have been more or less stable for the last thousand years. Am I drastically wrong there?

But Russia has sought to be an international empire for the past century, with client states within driving distance or a short boat-ride. And previous to that the czars fought foreign wars with Sweden and sparred with China. 

Putin seems to be quite rational at the game he's playing, which is bolstering his popularity at home by demonizing the West and engaging in a nice little easily-won imperial war. In the longer term, he seems to be playing the 19th-Century game of empire, while the US is playing the 21st Century game of building economic clout. It remains to be seen who wins when the player of one game comes up against the player of another. (If one guy is playing baseball and the other is playing tennis, who wins?)

On the other hand, here's a cautionary reminder for people like me who might forget that China is not an open society.

 
brookseven
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brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/27/2014 | 2:47:14 PM
Re: Huawei in the US
Mitch,

I think you have history exactly backwards.  China has been an Empire for 2000 years.  It is called the Middle Kingdom because the traditional view is that China is the center of the world.  This was changed for a period of time from when the West moved ahead of China during the start of the Industrial Age.  China is working to become the pre-eminent Superpower as it was for 1500 years.

Russia on the other hand is the land of paranoia.  They have been invaded from East and West for that same time.  They want a buffer around them to keep out invaders.  They want other states as buffer so that nobody gets to Mother Russia.

The reason I consider Russia less credible is that they have always been entirely rational.  Putin is an aberration and the next leader will have his or her own personality.  I don't see him even moving against Western Europe.  I do see China inexoribly moving across the Pacific and thus 50 years or so from now I expect a big problem.

 

seven
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/27/2014 | 2:12:22 PM
Re: Huawei in the US
brookseven - You see China as being more likely to launch a military attack on the US than Russia? Why?

That view defies history. Historically, China had been content to be a regional power – for literally thousands of years of history. Whereas Russia has centuries of imperial ambition, including of course the USSR, which viewed the US as its great enemy. And Vladimir Putin is an ex-KGB agent on record calling the fall of the USSR a great tragedy.
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/27/2014 | 2:03:39 PM
Speeling test
Hopefully the new guy will hire proofreaders. Or else they will surely fail at connecting besiness opportunition.
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/27/2014 | 12:51:57 PM
profile of the new CEO
@ Dan:

So whats the profile of the new CEO "Ming He"? How's he expected to take Huawei out of the security mess that it is in right now? Has he headed other markets too?
brookseven
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brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/24/2014 | 11:38:23 AM
Re: Huawei in the US
Mitch,

I agree with your definition of enemy and think China is in that category.  Which is where you and I disagree.  Which is why I would not put Russia on that list.

 

seven
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