Chinese tech and telecoms giant Huawei announced a significant strategic point on Wednesday, marking a shift in focus towards artificial intelligence (AI). For over a decade, the company had prioritized cloud computing and intellectual property. However, it now aims to position itself as a major player in the rapidly advancing field of AI.
Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s rotating chairwoman and chief financial officer, made this announcement during an event in Shanghai. She stated the increasing influence of artificial intelligence on various industries. Meng added that Huawei’s “All Intelligence” strategy is designed to help industries leverage emerging strategic opportunities.
Moreover, Meng stressed Huawei’s commitment to establishing a robust computing infrastructure in China and offering a global alternative. She mentioned, “Our end goal is to help meet the diverse AI computing needs of different industries,” though specific details about the strategy were not disclosed.
This technological shift mirrors similar moves by major Chinese tech companies, including Alibaba. The company also recently prioritized AI in their agendas. Companies like Japan’s SoftBank have long declared their intent to focus more on evolving technology as well. Evidently, many businesses are jumping on the AI bandwagon due to the excitement surrounding platforms like GPT-4.
Meng Wanzhou’s returned to China in September 2021, after nearly three years under house arrest in Canada. Her comeback was amid an extradition battle with the United States, has been a significant development. Huawei and Meng had faced charges of alleged bank fraud and evasion of economic sanctions against Iran.
Her return also followed an agreement with the US Department of Justice, resulting in the dismissal of her charges. Meng has since assumed the role of rotating chairperson at the company.
Nevertheless, China’s Ministry of State Security accused the United States of infiltrating Huawei’s servers nearly 15 years ago. This accusation was made through a statement on Chinese social network WeChat. The Ministry alleged that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had conducted systematic and platform-based cyberattacks on China over the years.
Huawei, long suspected by US officials of potential spying activities, declined to comment on these allegations. The company has consistently maintained that it operates independently of the Chinese government. In 2019, the company was placed on the US “entity list,” resulting in restrictions on exports to select organizations without US government approval. Tensions escalated in subsequent years as the US government sought to cut Huawei’s ties with chip suppliers using US technology.
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Huawei’s recent launch of the Mate 60 Pro, a flagship smartphone, has further heightened US-China tensions. The device’s inclusion of a 5G chip suggests Huawei may have found a way to navigate around American export controls.