Huawei has announced it is going to produce 5G equipment without any US components at all.

In the midst of China’s festivities held in Beijing on Tuesday to mark the People’s Republic’s 70th birthday, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd announced through its founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei that it has begun making 5G base stations without U.S. components.

According to Reuters, Ren said: “We carried out the testing in August and September, and from October on we will start scale production”, adding that the total production of 5G base stations should more than double next year as more countries introduce the technology, hitting 1.5 million units, compared with the 600,000 estimated for 2019, which includes those made with U.S. components and those without.

Since May, the Trump administration put the Chinese tech giant in the blacklist, restricting US companies from selling its software, microchips, and other vital components to Huawei, this because of concerns that Beijing could use Huawei equipment to spy on the United States or its allies. The company has repeatedly denied such allegations but has taken steps to minimize the impact. The sanctions, according to Reuters, have resulted in the loss of access to key technologies and the latest version of its Mate 30 flagship phone, for example, will not come with Google Mobile Services.

The stakes are huge

GZERO Media reports that the takes are truly hight, mostly because Huawei makes more smartphones than Apple, and outside of the US, where it’s long been de-facto (and now officially) banned, it is the world’s biggest supplier of the networking equipment that lets you scroll through social media, hail a car, and stream cat videos on your phone. The company is also leading the push to build ultra-fast, next-generation 5G networks that will power our sci-fi future: smart cities, remote surgery, driverless cars, and driverless cat videos. If Huawei can’t find a way around the US blockade (and there are good reasons to think it will have a hard time – not least due to the US’s massive advantages in critical technologies like semiconductors), its days as a global company are numbered, and Xi’s drive for tech independence will suffer a major blow.

5G will be politically, not just technologically, disruptive.


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Olivia Toledo
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