Huawei finally gives up on US schmoozing efforts

So long, and thanks for all the sanctions as PR and government relations teams decamp

Chinese tech giant Huawei has reportedly stood down much of its public and government relations teams in the US and Canada, in a sign it may have given up trying to persuade Washington to soften its stance.

Huawei has been under the burden of US sanctions for five years, since former president Donald Trump blacklisted the company in 2019 over allegations that its telco and IT kit represented a threat to national security.

The response from Huawei was to beef up its public and government relations efforts Stateside to counter the hostile narrative among policymakers in the capital city.

According to Nikkei Asia, Huawei has been steadily dismantled its public and government relations teams in North America. Citing sources familiar with the matter, they claim several employees were laid off recently, including some that worked for the company for about a decade.

The suggestion is that Huawei's hopes of turning around the situation have faded, and it has instead resolved to focus on other markets, namely at home in China where the company remains a major force.

We asked Huawei to confirm the details, but it declined to comment.

According to Nikkei, Huawei hired veteran lobbyist Tony Podesta in 2021 plus three lobbying companies to help tackle the trade and economic sanctions Washington imposed. The team also worked for the release of Huawei chief financial officer Wanzhou Meng, who was arrested in Canada following an extradition request from US authorities.

Meng is now back in China and the case against her ended. With little prospect of a change in US policy toward Huawei, the company appears to be cutting its losses.

Huawei is now betting on its datacenter infrastructure business for growth this year, as The Register detailed earlier this week, while it continues to find markets for its telecommunications equipment outside of Europe, notably in places such as Malaysia.

The company has also scored success at home with smartphones like the Mate 60 Pro, which made Huawei the fastest-growing smartphone maker in China in the third quarter of 2023, challenging the dominance of Apple's iPhone in the premium tier.

The Mate 60 Pro caused a stir when it debuted last year because it used a purportedly in-house developed 7nm system-on-chip, which few believed Chinese companies like Huawei were able to produce. ®

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