When US and other European countries turned their back towards China’s Huawei and its 5G, finally, Russia gave a red carpet welcome to this Chinese company.
Now, the Huawei 5G has gone live in Russia. The road to Russia was opened before Huawei after an agreement was signed between China's Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin at the 2019 St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
It was not so long ago the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Cananda under the direction of United States. It was a big a headache for China. Meng Wanzhou faces extradition to the United States. China could safeguard the release of Meng Wanzhou after many high-level diplomatic moves and legal battles.
The other achilles heel of Huawei was the rejection of its 5G networks by Western countries including US and UK. Huawei’s chairman had been complaining about his firm's "incredibly unfair treatment" abroad, especially by Western countries. In recent weeks, the UK's Defence Secretary and chief of MI6 have been among those to warn that use of Huawei's 5G kit poses risks that need fuller consideration. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and Japan have also flagged concerns about Huawei’s 5G.
Earlier in the year, US had banned Huawei for alleged espionage and asked its allies to do the same. So, this venture between Russia and China has gained real political significance. Analysts say the move is as much a show of solidarity with Beijing against the US as it is a drive to bring ultra high-speed internet to Russian tech users.
Russian network Tele2 went live in Moscow with Ericsson several weeks ago. And now, according to media reports this weekend, competing mobile operator MTS "has teamed up with Chinese tech giant Huawei for a 5G pilot scheme in Moscow—where for the first time the super-fast network will cover almost the entire city."
5G pilots were not the only Huawei agenda item when Xi met Putin in June. That same meeting touched on the potential for Huawei smartphones to transition to Russian OS Aurora—which had been discussed in more detail between Huawei and Russia's minister of digital development and communications. Last week, Reuters reported that Huawei is getting set to install Aurora "on 360,000 of its tablets to conduct Russia’s population census next year."
The same leaders’ meeting also covered the emerging tech split between the U.S. and its allies on one side, and China and others—including Russia—on the other.
The so-called Splinternet strikes fear in certain intelligence agencies—loss of control, and across major players in the Western tech sector—loss of revenue. And those tech players include the likes of Intel, Qualcomm, Google and Microsoft.