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Google flip-flop on Huawei after US lifts restrictions temporarily

Google flip-flop on Huawei after US lifts restrictions temporarily
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In a reversal of its decision to cut off ties with Chinese firm Huawei, Google on Tuesday said it would work with the world’s second-largest smartphone maker after the US government eased trade restrictions, giving temporary permission to obtain technology from American organisations.

The policy move, announced so that Huawei can maintain and repair existing deployments of its products around the world, means the Chinese firm’s phones can get Google updates for Android mobile operating system till 19 August.

On Thursday, Huawei was added by the US government to an export blacklist, because of a pending case accusing the Chinese company of engaging in bank fraud to obtain embargoed US goods and services in Iran and move money out of the country via the international banking system. Huawei has pleaded not guilty. Huawei’s addition to the blacklist made it difficult for the firm to buy American goods. Intel, Qualcomm and other American firms reportedly joined Google in ceasing support and supply to Huawei. Only Google has reversed its decision so far.

In a statement, Huawei said, “We will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally.”

If the sanction is levied once again after the 90-day reprieve, Google apps such as Gmail and YouTube will not be available on future Huawei handsets such as the Huawei Mate 30, its next flagship phone slated for release later this year.

Huawei claims that it has been developing its alternative to Android for nearly seven years now, in the event that the smartphone manufacturer loses access to the Google ecosystem.

The ban lifting offers Huawei a window of opportunity to negotiate with the US government.

In India, Huawei has been present since 1999 when its first overseas research & development (R&D) centre was set up in Bengaluru. Currently, Huawei says more than 3,000 Indians are employed in the R&D centre and various other operations in the country.

In 2016, Huawei set up what it claimed to be the world’s biggest global service centre at Bengaluru. The centre serves as a customer support hub for telecom carrier customers in over 30 markets across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Last October, the Indian government invited Huawei to conduct 5G trials. Late last year, Huawei also announced its plans to manufacture mobile phones in India. It aims to open 1,000 company-branded stores across the country to gain a foothold in a market which is dominated by Chinese peers Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and Realme as well as South Korea’s Samsung.

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