The Huawei controversy: Everything you need to know

Huawei’s been a fixture in the news cycle for awhile now. Here’s why.

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Huawei is one of the biggest mysteries in the wireless industry right now. It’s simultaneously the world’s largest telecom supplier and No. 2 smartphone maker. Yet it’s a pariah in several countries, including the US.

Most recently, the Chinese telecom giant ran into trouble in late January after the US Justice Department unsealed indictments that included 23 counts pertaining to the theft of intellectual property, obstruction of justice and fraud related to its alleged evasion of US sanctions against Iran.

But the core issue with Huawei has been concerns over 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.

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

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

The sheer number of headlines can be tough grapple with, so let’s put what’s happened over the past year in a handy timeline.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aug. 3, 2018: Huawei forecasts 200 million shipments, hoping to take No. 1 spot.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Jan. 11, 2019: In Poland, a Huawei employee gets arrested over alleged spying.

Jan. 14, 2019: Huawei sacks that arrested employee.

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

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

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

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

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

Feb. 1, 2019: Huawei illuminates its foldable phone in a MWC 2019 teaser photo.

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