The United States has stepped up its trade war against China, essentially banning American companies from selling to or buying from Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant. The move is a potentially crippling blow to Huawei, although the company can mitigate some of the impact in the short term. More important than the damage to Huawei, however, is the message it sends to other businesses, along with U.S. allies and partners: Washington is convinced that Huawei is a dangerous entity, and countries and companies that continue to work with it risk jeopardizing their relations with the U.S.
The U.S. suspects that Huawei, the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world since 2012, the second-largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world since 2018 and the third-largest purchaser of semiconductors, is a security threat. Critics charge that the company is too close to the Chinese government, and that the use of Huawei equipment in critical national telecommunications systems gives Beijing a window into the contents of those communications and a kill switch that can be deployed in the event of a crisis or confrontation. Huawei denies the charges.