There’s been quite a few articles recently about Huawei, the Chinese maker of networking and infrastructure hardware (think Cisco of the East), and its efforts to improve its image with US companies. In fact, one of their recent hires, a US based executive who previously served in high ranking capacities at large telecoms like British Telecom, is basically a full time lobbyist and part time executive tasked with bringing AT&T, Verizon and other US based carriers into the fold. To date, the biggest telecom carriers have resisted adding Huawei to their preferred vendor status because of security concerns. And US government reservations as well…the same company tried to buy Sprint a few years back and the acquisition was blocked by the FTC and other government agencies. Now comes the announcement that Huawei is actually pulling back on sales of network equipment to Iran because of concerns that its products might be used to ferret out insurgents.
When I read this article my first thought was that this was done completely for sales and image reasons in the US, but then reflecting back to the other articles I had read, I realized there is some irony that Huawei which itself is closely aligned to the Chinese government, made this decision. There’s something to be said for a company like Huawei who most likely helps support the Chinese “Great Firewall” and probably helps with similar insurgent activities in the mainland, pulling back from similar activities in other countries. Maybe they looked in the mirror and realized that there’s definitely a conflict of interest. And/or maybe they really are trying to get rid of any global stigma about selling into Iran. Regardless, there are numerous reasons to watch and see if Huawei continues to distance itself from other deals with government entities in the future.