Google has reportedly suspended its licenses and product-sharing agreements with Chinese communications giant Huawei, as Washington accuses the company of spying for Beijing.
The Silicon Valley tech giant has cut its business deals with Huawei that involve the transfer of hardware and software, Reuters and the Verge report. Following the move, Huawei will likely lose access to Android operating system updates, and its forthcoming smartphones will be shut out of some Google apps, including the Google Play Store and Gmail apps. The Chinese firm, however, will still have access to the open source version of the Android operating system.
“We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications,” a Google spokesperson confirmed in a brief statement. "For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices."
Huawei denies all accusations of spying. Nevertheless, the US Commerce Department added Huawei to its blacklist on Thursday, after President Donald Trump ruled that the Chinese firm could “undermine US national security or foreign policy interests,” particularly in developing America’s 5G network. The ban forbids Huawei from buying parts or technology from US suppliers.Washington repeatedly accused Huawei of installing so-called ‘backdoors’ into its products on behalf of the Chinese government. The heads of six US intelligence agencies warnedAmerican citizens against using Huawei products last year, and the Chinese company’s phones were banned from US military bases shortly afterwards.
Coupled with the latest development from Google, the ban will likely see Huawei remain in place or tumble in the global smartphone market. The Chinese company overtook Apple at the beginning of the month to become the second biggest manufacturer worldwide, after South Korea’s Samsung.
The company has indeed shown a willingness to work for the benefit of the US military. Google was contracted in 2017 to create an AI program to analyze video footage from drones using machine learning, a project codenamed ‘Project Maven’ by the Pentagon. Google’s competitors, Microsoft and Amazon, have both lent their cloud computing power to the Pentagon to help the military develop its AI projects.Although Google has often had an antagonistic relationship with the Trump administration, Sunday’s report comes less than two months after CEO Sundar Pichai met with President Trump at the White House. After the meeting, Trump announced that Pichai’s firm was "totally committed to the U.S. Military, not the Chinese Military.”