Huawei ban: Full timeline on how and why its phones are under fire

Huawei is making some of the biggest waves in the wireless industry right now. It’s the world’s No. 1 telecom supplier and No. 2 phone manufacturer. Despite this, it’s a pariah in several countries, including the US, to the point that the FBI reportedly set up a sting at CES 2019.

Over the last few months, there’s been an upswing in scrutiny of Huawei, with a number of countries banning the use of its networking equipment. That’s why its phones are virtually invisible in the US despite its massive presence around the world.

The Chinese telecom giant may have run into its biggest trouble yet in 2019. Late January saw the US Justice Department unseal indictments that included 23 counts pertaining to the alleged theft of intellectual property, obstruction of justice and fraud related to its alleged evasion of US sanctions against Iran.


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The core issue with Huawei has been concerns about its coziness with the Chinese government and fears that its equipment could be used to spy on other countries and companies. It’s the reason why the US banned companies from using Huawei networking equipment in 2012 and why the company was added to the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security Entity List in mid-May, following an executive order from President Donald Trump effectively banning Huawei from US communications networks. 

In late June, Trump reportedly agreed to ease those restrictions as part of a deal to resume trade talks with China.

FAQ: HarmonyOS: What’s with Huawei’s Android-replacement operating system?

Huawei has long denied any wrongdoing and continues to maintain its innocence through the recent charges.

It can be tough to keep pace with the sheer number of headlines, so let’s put what’s happened in 2018 and 2019 in a handy timeline. We’ve put the 2019 events first, with 2018’s below if you want to dive deeper.

CommentaryRushing foldable phones doesn’t work. Just ask Samsung and Huawei


2019

Aug. 19: US Commerce Department extends reprieve allowing companies to work with Huawei.

Aug. 18: Trump says he doesn’t want to do business with Huawei due to “national security threat” it represents.

Aug. 16: Huawei’s founder expresses confidence that UK “won’t say no to us” in its 5G rollout.

Aug. 15: Huawei pushes back the launch of its Mate X foldable phone again, and might be working on its own version of Google Maps.

Aug. 14: Huawei is apparently researching 6G wireless internet connectivity.

Aug. 13: India remains undecided on letting Huawei sell its 5G networking equipment in the country.

Aug. 9: Huawei unveils its Android replacement “Harmony,” while Trump says the US won’t do business with Huawei.

Aug. 7: Trump administration say it’ll ban government from doing business with Huawei, and Republican senators target Google over Huawei project.

Aug. 6: Huawei Twitter poll reveals its followers think it’s owned by the Chinese government, but people on Facebook disagree.

Aug. 4: Huawei will reportedly release a cheap phone powered by its Hongmeng OS in late 2019.

July 31: Huawei beat iPhone with 17% global market share in 2019’s second quarter, research firm said.

July 30: Huawei reported revenue surge despite US ban, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Trump administration could decide on licenses allowing Huawei sales by next week.

July 29: Huawei and Google were reportedly working on a smart speaker before ban.

July 26: Chinese authorities suspect FedEx illegally held back over 100 Huawei packages, report said.

July 25: Electronics company reportedly “seized” $100M of Huawei goods following US ban.

July 24: United Arab Emirates telecom says US ban on Huawei isn’t an issue for its 5G network

July 23: Huawei lays off more than 600 US workers due to blacklisting.

July 22: Leaked documents suggested that Huawei secretly helped build North Korea’s wireless network. Also, the White House gathering tech execs for a meeting where Trump reportedly said Huawei licensing deals will be “timely.”

July 19: Huawei says Hongmeng OS isn’t designed as an Android replacement.

July 16: Bipartisan group of senators introduces 5G legislation that would keep Huawei blacklisted.

July 15: Canada may wait until after October elections to decide on Huawei ban, while the US will reportedly let Huawei sell to companies within weeks. Also, Huawei reportedly plans major layoffs at its US research labs.

July 9: US will allow licensed sales to Huawei, but it remains blacklisted.

July 7: Huawei CEO says its HongMeng OS alternative is ‘likely’ faster than Android, but needs its own app store.

July 4: US government tries to get Huawei lawsuit thrown out.

July 3: Huawei remains on Commerce Department’s blacklist despite Trump’s latest decision.

July 2: Huawei reportedly isn’t sure about using Android in future phones.

July 1: Trump official says eased Huawei restrictions only apply to widely available products.

June 29: Trump decides to lift some restrictions on US companies selling to Huawei.

June 27: Huawei employees worked on Chinese military research projects, according to a report from Bloomberg.

June 25: US companies are reportedly bypassing the Trump ban on sales to Huawei, while FedEx is suing the Commerce Department over the diversion of Huawei packages.

June 24: Huawei says it’ll increase its 5G investment in spite of US ban, while attorneys for its imprisoned CFO have asked for the US extradition request to be withdrawn. Also, an FCC commissioner wants Huawei gear out of US networks, and the Trump administration reportedly is thinking about requiring domestic 5G equipment to be made outside China.

June 21: Huawei unveils a trio of new Nova 5 phones in China as US tensions simmer, and its Mate X foldable phone will reportedly launch by September. The US also blacklists five more Chinese tech companies.

June 19: Huawei’s CEO isn’t worried about $30 billion revenue hit from US ban.

June 18: Huawei boss predicts $30B revenue hit from US ban, but Microsoft starts selling its laptops again.

June 13: Chinese ambassador warns Britain that excluding Huawei from 5G sends a “bad signal.”

June 12: Huawei reportedly moves to trademark its own OS, and apparently chases Verizon for $1B in patent licensing fees.

June 11: Huawei says it’ll need more time to become world’s biggest phone seller and reportedly delays announcement of its new laptop indefinitely. 

June 10: Huawei reportedly asks app developers to publish on its AppGallery store, and a White House official apparently wants to delay the US government’s Huawei ban.

June 7: Facebook stops letting Huawei preinstall its apps, and Google reportedly warns the Trump administration that its Huawei ban creates a national security risk. Also, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s extradition hearing is set for January 2020.

June 6: Russian telecom agrees to let Huawei develop country’s 5G network, while China gives Huawei a boost by issuing 5G licenses.

June 5: Huawei chairman says company would sign a “no-spy” deal with US.

June 4: Huawei trade secrets trial reportedly kicks off in Texas.

June 3: Science publisher IEEE reverses its week-old ban on Huawei scientists reviewing technical papers.

June 2: Huawei reportedly strips back production of phones amid US crackdown.

May 31: Huawei reportedly orders employees to cancel US meetings, mirrors Consumer Technology Association’s criticism of Trump’s plans to impose higher tariffs on imported Mexican goods.

May 30: Huawei membership restored by SD Association and Wi-Fi Alliance, while it quietly launches its 5G lab in the shadow of the US ban. Also, its wearables shipments quadruple in first quarter.

May 29: Huawei asks court to rule US ban unconstitutional.

May 28: Huawei reportedly plans to bring OS to China later this year, internationally in 2020.

May 26: Ren Zhengfei, Huawei’s founder, says he’d “be the first to protest” if China retaliated against Apple.

May 24: Huawei’s operating system may be called “Hongmeng,” while Amazon Japan reportedly stops selling its devices.

May 23: US reportedly accuses Huawei of lying about Chinese ties.

May 22: Chip designer Arm ditches Huawei, while Mate 20 X gets dropped from UK 5G launch.

May 21: Huawei reportedly wants its app store to compete with Google’s.

May 20: Huawei gets a temporary reprieve from the US trade ban, prompting Google to revive work temporarily.

May 19: Google cuts off Huawei phones from future Android updates.

May 16: Huawei says US ban will ‘significantly harm’ American jobs and companies.

May 15: Trump effectively bans Huawei with a national security order.

May 8: 5G rollout may face a delay in UK over Huawei investigations.

May 3: Countries draft 5G security proposals as the US warns again of Huawei’s threat.

May 2: A Huawei leak prompts the sacking of UK defense minister Gavin Williamson.

May 1: Huawei hits 50% growth in phone sales and reportedly has an 8K 5G TV in the works for later this year.

April 30: Vodafone found hidden backdoors in Huawei equipment, according to a report.

April 24: Britain will reportedly allow Huawei limited access to 5G infrastructure. Several days later, China pushes Britain to let Huawei be part of 5G rollout.

April 21: The CIA reportedly says Huawei is funded by Chinese state security.

April 11: Google and Huawei will pay Nexus 6P owners for bootloop issues in class-action lawsuit.

April 9: The US reportedly no longer demands a Huawei ban in Germany.

April 8: Huawei is “open” to selling its 5G chips to Apple, says report.

April 4, 2019: Huawei sets new goals to overtake Samsung and Apple, and MIT severs links with Huawei and ZTE due to US investigations.

March 29, 2019: Huawei slams US for having “a loser’s attitude” because its tech can’t compete.

March 28, 2019: British watchdog warns that Huawei products represent “significantly increased risk.”

March 26, 2019: Huawei launches the P30 and P30 Pro in Paris.

March 19, 2019: Angela Merkel pushes back against US pressure to bar Huawei from Germany’s 5G rollout.

March 15, 2019: Huawei’s CFO wanted to quit before arrest, according to the company’s founder.

March 14, 2019: Huawei is developing its own OS in case it can’t use Android or Windows, report says.

March 12, 2019: US reportedly tells Germany to drop Huawei or it’ll limit intelligence sharing. The Huawei Mate 20 hits 10 million shipped.

March 8, 2019: Huawei sues the US government over its equipment ban.

March 5, 2019: Huawei reportedly calls for international cybersecurity standards.

March 1, 2019: An extradition hearing for Huawei’s CFO gets the go-ahead from Canada, and the US warns the Philippines against using Huawei 5G gear.


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Feb. 28, 2019: Chinese kids literally sing Huawei’s praises in surreal video.

Feb. 26, 2019: Samsung and Huawei settle 2-year-old patent dispute.

Feb. 25, 2019: Huawei could face a solar tech ban in the US.

Feb. 24, 2019: Huawei unveils the Mate X foldable phone.

Feb. 22, 2019: Italian politicians reportedly push for Huawei 5G ban.

Feb. 21, 2019: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says countries using Huawei tech pose a risk to the US.

Feb. 20-21, 2019: Ren Zhengfei says that the arrest of his daughter, the company’s CFO, was “politically motivated and that the US treats 5G like “military” tech.

Feb. 19, 2019: Ren tells the BBC “there’s no way the US can crush us.”

Feb. 17, 2019: The UK reportedly concludes that using Huawei in 5G is a manageable risk.

Feb. 6, 2019: US State Department discourages European countries from using Huawei equipment in their 5G rollouts.

Feb. 4, 2019: A report says the FBI raided a Huawei lab and set up a CES sting. Also, two of the company’s staff were expelled from Denmark after a work permit inspection.

Jan. 30, 2019: Qualcomm reaches an interim licensing agreement with Huawei.

Jan. 29, 2019: US hammers Huawei with 23 indictments for alleged trade secret theft and fraud.

Jan. 25, 2019: Colleges reportedly drop Huawei equipment to appease the Trump administration. Also, Huawei says it’ll reveal a foldable phone with 5G in February.

Jan. 24, 2019: Huawei reportedly says it’ll take the smartphone crown from Samsung by 2020.

Jan. 23, 2019: Huawei’s CFO may face formal extradition to the US, report says.

Jan. 18, 2019: China says a Canadian ban on Huawei’s 5G tech will trigger “repercussions.”

Jan. 11, 2019: In Poland, a Huawei employee gets arrested over alleged spying.Three days later, Huawei sacks that employee.

Jan. 8, 2019: Huawei fights to stay in the US with laptops and tablets at CES.

Jan. 4, 2019: Senators introduce a bipartisan bill to address concerns about Chinese tech companies.

Jan. 3, 2019: A report suggests that President Trump may use an executive order to ban Huawei and ZTE purchases.

ReadHuawei could survive without Android, but not very well


2018

Dec. 24, 2018: Huawei exceeds 200 million smartphone shipments.

Dec. 12, 2018: A Canadian court grants Huawei’s CFO $10 million bail.

Dec. 7, 2018: Reuters reports that Japan will stop buying Huawei, ZTE equipment.

Dec. 6, 2018: Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is arrested in Canada at the request of the US.

Dec. 5, 2018:  Britain’s BT says it’ll strip Huawei equipment from 4G network by 2021 and won’t use it in 5G core.

Oct. 18, 2018: Huawei tussles with US startup CNEX Labs over theft of technology.

Sept. 7, 2018: Huawei gets caught cheating on a phone benchmark test.

Sept. 5, 2018: In a Senate hearing on Facebook and Twitter, Huawei and ZTE get called out.

Aug. 1, 2018: Knocking off Apple, Huawei becomes the No. 2 phone seller.

July 19, 2018: Huawei crosses 100 million shipments mark for the year to date.

July 11, 2018: Australia says it’ll ban Huawei from 5G rollout amid security concerns.

June 7, 2018: Congress calls out Google over its ties with Huawei.

June 6, 2018: A report reveals that Facebook gave Huawei special access to user data.

May 2, 2018: The Pentagon bans the sale of Huawei and ZTE phones on US military bases.

March 22, 2018: Huawei loses Best Buy as retail partner.

Feb. 13, 2018: FBI Director Chris Wray warns against buying Huawei and ZTE phones.

Jan. 9, 2018: At the Consumer Electronics Show, Huawei CEO Richard Yu addresses the loss of AT&T support.

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Sean Keane

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