It’s good to see a major chinese company on the front foot in Australia, touring the country to meet and talk to media, customers and the business community about their future plans, delivered in a relaxed environment with drinks, food, networking and some free books as giveaways (including the complete works in three volumes of chairman Ren Zhengfei). I enjoyed attending the Sydney “Let’s Talk” event this week and to meet some of their senior leaders, including local CEO, Hudson Liu (who impressed me with his foldable Huawei smartphone) and supporters (e.g. former senator, Nick Xenophon, who is now advising Huawei in a legal capacity) and to hear them talk about their plans for the future.
Huawei are never far from the news headlines and it is clear that the decision by the Australian Government to ban them from any involvement in the rollout of the local 5G network is a major setback, at least in the short term. Australian Chairman, John Lord recently stepped down after 9 years in the job (see his interview here) and has been scathing in his criticism of the Australian Government’s position in relation to Huawei. Whilst the consequences of this decision won’t be fully known for a year or two, it is widely accepted that Australia’s 5G network will be more expensive, will take longer to build and with lower performance than would be the case if delivered by Huawei, but these are secondary issues to the concern (real or otherwise) about potential foreign interference.
The point was made that Huawei is just the first of many Chinese technology companies that will be going global in the next decade and will present exactly the same set of challenges for western Governments who will have to address these issues over and over again. Meanwhile, the retail market will be able to make their own choices in terms of the best technology available and the price they want to pay and, in the long run, the customer always knows best?