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Leaked Huawei memo reveals plan for global software domination

Chinese tech vendor Huawei has been forced out of much of its hardware business by unilateral US restrictions, so it plans to return the favour in software.

Scott Bicheno

May 25, 2021

2 Min Read
Leaked Huawei memo reveals plan for global software domination

Chinese tech vendor Huawei has been forced out of much of its hardware business by unilateral US restrictions, so it plans to return the favour in software.

We know this because Reuters reported on a recent internal memo sent by Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei, covering the strategic pivot to software. While the cunning plan itself is no secret, this memo sheds more light on the internal culture driving it and expected long-term consequences of the strategy.

“Once we dominate Europe, the Asia Pacific and Africa, if U.S. standards don’t match ours, and we can’t enter the U.S., then the U.S. can’t enter our territory,” the memo reportedly said. Them’s fightin’ words, as they might say in the US. Huawei is not merely seeking to focus on markets the US will be less able to ban it from, it wants to ban the US right back.

There are so many presumptions built into that statement it would be easy to dismiss it as the ravings of a megalomaniac if it didn’t coincide so closely with the broader Chinese ‘belt and road’ strategy. There are, of course, many parts of Europe and the Asia Pacific region that aren’t too keen on being dominated by China or its companies, and even Africa is looking a bit shaky these days.

Reuters claims an exclusive but we’ve seen a version of the memo too, in which the above quote was significantly toned-down. The reason for that, presumably, is that the official Huawei party line is that its hand has been forced by US sanctions (which is true) and that any consequent ‘decoupling’ (i.e. Balkanization) of the global technology industry is the fault of the US.

The rest of what we’ve seen goes heavy on colourful similes and metaphors that may lose something in translation. So Huawei intends to “extend our roots deep into the soil and break limits high in the sky,” the latter part of which seems to refer to all this exciting domination and reciprocal banning. There’s also a laboured rail metaphor that seems intended to clarify the correct approach to software investment and development.

It’s hard not to feel sympathy for Huawei, given how the US has set out to destroy it, nor is it difficult to imagine feeling similarly vengeful if put in the same position. But what does Huawei hope to achieve by leaking stuff like this to the international media? Surely it will merely stiffen the resolve of those countries already ill-disposed towards Huawei and likely offend others it appears to take for granted. By all means issue a rallying cry to your own employees, Ren, but maybe keep it to yourself from now on.

About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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