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The US is stepping up its pressure against Huawei, again. Just as other countries decide whether or not to use the Chinese technology companies' equipment in their 5G networks, US prosecutors have unveiled a fresh set of allegations against it. They accuse the company not only of stealing technology from their US rivals, but they say that this pattern of wrongdoing was so endemic to its business model that it actually constitutes a criminal enterprise.
They have charged Huawei with racketeering - essentially being an organised crime outfit - and these charges carry very severe penalties if proven. Huawei's assets could be seized, and its senior executives could be thrown in jail. The details of some of the new indictments are eye-opening. They read like the pages of a spy thriller. Let me read to you the details of one such incident.
In or about July 2004, says the DoJ, at a trade show in Chicago, Illinois, a Huawei employee was discovered in the middle of the night after the show had closed for the day in the booth of a rival technology company, removing the cover from a networking device and taking photographs of the circuitry inside. This individual wore a badge listing his employer as Weihua, Huawei spelt with its syllables reversed.
One of our readers, Thomaham, has asked a pertinent question here. That person has asked why it has taken so long to bring these charges and why these companies aren't being named. Well, the victim companies aren't being officially named, Thomaham, but the details of the cases that vary closely with previous civil lawsuits brought by companies, including AT&T and Motorola.
And as for why it's taken so long for the DoJ to bring these charges, well, the DoJ might say it takes a while to prosecute cases of such magnitude and such complexity. Huawei, however, has its own answer. The company says that this is all part of a wider push by the Trump administration against it, which it says is being done for commercial reasons.
It denies any wrongdoing. Well, Huawei may or may not be right about that, but one thing is for sure. Charges with the magnitude of racketeering carry very severe penalties, and it needs to take them seriously.