Alphabet Inc’s Google has warned if the U.S. administration moves ahead with sweeping ban on Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, it risks compromising national security, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.
Google’s move comes as the world’s two top economies ratchet up tariffs in a battle over what U.S. officials call China’s unfair trade practices.
While the sanctions are expected to hurt Huawei in the short term, industry experts say it could force the company – and other Chinese firms – to become self-reliant by developing more home-grown technologies, hurting the dominance of American companies such as Google in the longer term.
Whether or not Google can convincingly make that argument could mean the difference between a fast resolution to this ongoing dispute or something much more complicated. Huawei is by some measures the number one or number two top seller of phones worldwide, and if it suddenly rushed into creating its own OS, things would get messy very quickly.
Huawei has said that it could roll out a custom operating system “very quickly,” though whether it would be based on the version of Android (sans Google services) it currently uses in China or on something else is not very clear — just like everything else in this complicated situation.
Even if you discount Google’s reported argument about security, there’s no question that it and other US companies stand to lose a significant amount of money if they can no longer do business with a company as large as Huawei. Just as it’s difficult to separate the Trump administration’s security concerns from its trade war, it’s equally difficult to separate Google’s reported security motivations from the potential effect on its bottom line.
As Bloomberg notes, Huawei itself has said that it “has not negotiated directly with the US government and is waiting to see how Google talks evolve.” That means Google’s reported talks with the US government are the center of the action right now.
That action is likely to intensify over the summer: Google’s temporary license to supply Huawei phones with updates is set to expire on August 19th.