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Huawei accuses US of ‘cynically timed’ Google ban

UK executive Jeremy Thompson told BBC Radio 4 the dispute was linked to the on-going trade war between the US and China.

Huawei says it has been caught in the crossfire of the United States’ trade war with China (Steve Parsons/PA)
Huawei says it has been caught in the crossfire of the United States’ trade war with China (Steve Parsons/PA)

The US executive order leading to Google’s restricting Huawei’s use of key software has been labelled a “cynically timed” measure to hurt China in its trade war with the US, a Huawei executive has said.

Google confirmed on Monday it was restricting Huawei’s access to the Android operating system on which the Chinese firm’s mobile devices depend.

It follows an executive order issued last week by US President Donald Trump which prohibited the technology of “foreign adversaries” using US tech without government approval.

We're a football in between this trade war Jeremy Thompson, Huawei

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World At One, Huawei’s executive vice president in the UK, Jeremy Thompson said the dispute was about trade, not security.

“We’re in the middle of a trade war between two big countries so the timing of this is to inflict maximum hurt on our organisation. We’re a football in between this trade war,” he said.

He added that although the company had developed its own operating system it could use instead of Android, that was a “plan B” and the company “would rather” work with Google.

“This is 100% about trade and we did expect something along these lines – not perhaps as cynically-timed as it is right now, but we are developing parallel operating systems – that’s why we invest 14 billion dollars a year in R&D, and we have used some of that investment to find alternatives.”

The Huawei executive also said the company remained hopeful the restrictions could be avoided.

“We have been making plans for this possible outcome but it hasn’t happened yet – the executive order that was announced last week has got 150 days to be implemented. We’re all, including Google, seeking to understand the full implications of it,” he said.

“But our focus right now is on our existing customers and ensuring that we maintain the good service that we’ve been able to give them and we can continue to do that right now.”

Mr Thompson also rejected the argument that Huawei phones were no longer worth buying.

“No I don’t think that’s the case, it is still a good phone and it will continue to work with the Google Protect – which is their security – and Google Play,” he said.

“What we’re talking about here is future products that we launch – so anything that is in the market today is supported.

“It’s supported for the time being and our expectation is that this issue will be resolved within the 150 days or so that the executive order has to run.”

When asked if he could see why some people now argued against buying a Huawei phone, he said: “I think that’s precisely the purpose of the US government, to create uncertainty and doubt at this particular time in the trade negotiations, but our hope and wish is it will be resolved in the coming weeks and months.”

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