Shenzhen, China, 21 May 2020 (AFP) – Despite pressure from the United States, Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei is moving ahead with its ambitious projects, such as expanding its campus to train its increasingly large number of employees.
The United States has been trying for 18 months to block the supply of semiconductors to this company, which it considers a national security risk.
But while Huawei employees speak of "crisis" on its huge campus in the southern Chinese capital, Shenzhen, the company's ambitions continue to grow.
The new pressure from the United States "naturally caused some concern", acknowledges Huawei University vice-director Ryan Liu. "But I have worked for Huawei for many years and we are confident that the company will guide us on the right path," he says.
The U.S. Department of Commerce said last Friday that it was stepping up efforts to prevent Huawei from having access to semiconductors, keys to its products and whose absence would jeopardize its "survival", according to the Chinese giant.
"If you keep the spirit of that decision, it will have a big impact on Huawei," says Kelsey Broderick, an analyst at the consulting firm Eurasia Group, who considers the group's ability to obtain its own semiconductors low.
Meanwhile, in Shenzhen, home to several large Chinese technology companies, Huawei's projects are advancing.
The company went from 180,000 to 194,000 employees and in 2019 grew 19% in its global business, despite pressure.
This is the case of the expansion of the "European city", a complex where 25,000 employees live, located next to a lake and which has its own railway network with stops with names like "Paris", "Bologna" or "Heidelberg", all of them with architecture that resembles these cities. Currently, there are eleven thematic areas of this type and another is being built.
Huawei University will move in August to a newer and bigger place, also in the "European" style.
Washington fears that the Chinese government will use Huawei's telecommunications network worldwide to spy or sabotage.
The company is set to become a world leader in 5G mobile Internet technology, and Washington is trying to convince other countries to give up its material for security reasons.
The current president of Huawei, Guo Ping, said this week that the United States is really acting out of fear of losing technological hegemony to Chinese companies.
The United States has already managed to prevent Huawei from having access to Google's Android operating system for its cell phones, a decision that led the company to create its own system, called HarmonyOS.
In that sense, blocking access to semiconductors could improve the role of HiSilicon, a subsidiary of Huawei in that sector.
"This challenge will create a deeper sense of crisis, but our response is to do our job well and trust that hard work will be rewarded," said Liu.
Huawei University had to close its 40 physical classrooms in January because of the coronavirus, but online classes continued for its employees in China, Africa, Europe and elsewhere, and they returned in person in May, said Liu.
Classes address issues like management or high technology, and two-week courses for new hires are also organized on corporate culture and how to deal with pressure.
dma / lth / dan / pc / zm / cc