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Solidarity shown as Chinese and European companies join fight against #COVID-19

EU Reporter Correspondent



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While China is seeing its new confirmed cases of the deadly COVID-19 in drastic decline, Europe, unfortunately, has now become the new epicenter of the pandemic. As the outbreak, which by early March 23 has killed over 14,700 people and sickened 340,000 more globally, is taking a heavy toll on our healthcare, manufacturing, industries, and daily lives, Chinese and European companies are ramping up their efforts to support Europe’s battle against COVID-19, showing solidarity that is much needed at this critical and challenging moment.
Image Group, China’s largest online travel services provider and a worldwide leading one, on 18 March announced to donate 1 million surgical masks to epidemic-stricken Italy, Germany, France, UK, Australia, the US, Canada, and many others. This marked the latest move of the company, itself a victim of Covid-19 due to the virus’s giant blow to the tourism industry in China and beyond, to safeguard travelers, minimize impact, and combat the virus.

The Group’s efforts were joined by peers in China and Europe. On 22 March, French luxury group Kering announced that it will provide the French health service with 3 million surgical masks, apart from a series of donations in finance or medical supplies previously made to Italy and China; on March 18, a cargo plane carrying 1.5 million masks was wheels down in Liege Airport, the biggest cargo airport in Belgium and the first European partner to join the Electronic World Trade Platform initiated by China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba. The supplies, donated by Jack Ma, Alibaba's founder, were supposed to be delivered to France, Slovenia, and Belgium. A few days earlier, donations of millions of masks and test kits from Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation had reached their destinations in Italy, Belgium, and other European countries. Alibaba’s logistic arm Cainiao Network announced that it will charter five cargo flights a week from China’s eastern city Hangzhou to Liege Airport, fully loaded with medical supplies.
ImagePhoto: @Jack Ma Foundation
Italy, by now the most hit country by COVID-19 outside of China, has received plenty of supplies and funds from Chinese and European companies. Huawei Italy on 16 March announced to donate 200,000 FFP2 CE type masks to Milan after 1,000 protective suits had been addressed to some hospitals in the city; on 11 March, the Italian football club Inter Milan and its Chinese owner Suning International, donated 300,000 medical masks and other healthcare products to the Italian Civil Protection agency; on March 6, Xiaomi Italia donated tens of thousands of FFP3 face masks to the Italian government to help address a critical shortage of such materials in the country.
On the ground, to name a few, Milan-based fashion giant Giorgio Armani announced to donate €1.25 million; Italian fitness equipment manufacturer Technogym announced €1m, for Italy to combat COVID-19.
Apart from donations, companies are creatively finding new solutions to help combat the pandemic. Chinese electric car maker BYD swiftly developed its production line and now reportedly becomes the world’s biggest mask manufacturer, which can make up to 5 million masks and 300,000 bottles of disinfectant per day.
In France, the world's biggest luxury goods group LVMH announced plans to use its perfume production facilities to make sanitizers and distribute them free of charge to French hospitals.
ImagePhoto: @LVMH
Many European factories, including Span’s Inditex, the world's biggest fashion retailer, and Sweden’s H&M, are seeking to convert part of their production lines to respond to current urgent needs of medical suppliers, the European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said during an online discussion co-organized by the think tank Bruegel and the Financial Times on March 19. Several companies worldwide have been pouring millions of dollars into the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, created to support the World Health Organization in preventing, detecting, and managing the pandemic.
In the digital domain, telecom companies, SMEs, and start-ups are supporting innovative digital initiatives in droves, either for better smoothing of the internet or to provide pro bono services, thus facilitating the transformation of work and life habits of millions of individuals forced at home. For instance, in Italy, several telecoms and smart work suppliers responded to the Italian government's call for "digital solidarity", giving out free services to promote smart working, e-learning or digital entertainment.
As the fight against COVID-19 is global, unity and solidarity stay central to beat the virus. Europe set up efforts to support China’s battle against Covid-19 back in January and February, but now becomes the new epicenter of the pandemic itself. What Chinese and European companies have been doing is sending a strong sense of solidarity to the world.

The efforts from the private sector also echoed the call for reciprocal support made by both public sectors. China has not forgotten the EU’s and several member states’ earlier help in containing the crisis and is now responding in kind, as recently pointed out by European Commission President von der Leyen.

"We are waves from the same sea, leaves from the same tree, flowers from the same garden”. As reads the quote on the shipment crates of Xiaomi's donations, friendship and cooperation are among the ultimate silver-bullet solutions to the human beings’ common enemy, and those great efforts from Chinese and European companies deserve tremendous respect at the time of the global crisis. United we stand, we hope that more private companies will donate funds, surgical masks, ventilators, protective suits, and other desperately-needed medical supplies to support the fight and save lives. Let us work together to get through the hardship, overcome the worst, and build the path towards the final containment of the emergency and recovery of normal economic activities.
ChinaEU is a non-profit international association under Belgian law (AISBL). Founded in Brussels in 2015, ChinaEU has been set up as a forum to foster public-private partnerships, business cooperation and joint investments in digitization processes and hi-tech fields by European and Chinese companies, respecting high privacy protection standards. Areas where ChinaEU excel include organizing events and providing advice to its partners regarding the development of new digital services in the EU. In particular, ChinaEU assists Chinese and EU businesses in identifying new partnerships and promoting their digital applications and innovative services in the European markets. Where relevant, ChinaEU also shares its expertise on the applicable EU regulatory framework, including through trainings and events.


More than 100 jobs to be created by Huawei in Ireland

Technology correspondent



Huawei today (21 February) announced it would create a further 110 new jobs in Ireland by the end of 2022, bringing to at least 310 the total of new jobs it will have added over a three year period from 2019 to 2022 – more than doubling its workforce in that time. Huawei will invest €80 million in Irish research and development (R&D) over the next two years to support its growing business in Ireland.

Over the past 15 months, Huawei has created 200 jobs in Ireland, as well as investing €60 million in R&D. In the next two years, Huawei will invest a further €80 million in R&D in Ireland, doubling its commitment from 2019.*

The new jobs will meet sustained growing demand for Huawei’s products and services across its sales, R&D, IT development and in its consumer division. The company has a strong focus on helping its business partners roll out 5G across Ireland in coming years.  The jobs will be mainly based in its Dublin headquarters and across operations in Cork and Athlone.

The investment is supported by the Irish government through IDA Ireland.

Commenting on the announcement, Tánaiste and Enterprise, Trade and Employment Minister Leo Varadkar said: “The news that Huawei will create 110 new jobs is most welcome.  The company is creating new jobs at a time when we really need them with so many people out of work. Despite all the current uncertainty and challenges, Ireland continues to attract top class investment from global technology companies. These 110 jobs, which come in addition to the 200 created over the past 15 months, will be accompanied by an €80m investment in Irish research and development. I wish the company the best of luck with this expansion.”

Confirming the latest recruitment plans Huawei Ireland Chief Executive Tony Yangxu said: “We are delighted to see such growth in our workforce and business.  Huawei has a long-term commitment to Ireland, where since 2004 we have built a world-class team servicing our ever-growing consumer and enterprise customer bases.  Today’s announcement is testament to the strength of those, as well as the ongoing success of our research and development programme, to which we committed €70 million in 2019.  Our story in Ireland is one of mutual success, as we assist with the national digital transformation and Ireland continues to grow its international reputation as a pro-business environment with great talent available.”

IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan added: “This is a welcome investment by Huawei which will add substantially to Ireland’s technology and R&D ecosystem.  The company’s continued commitment to significant investments in R&D and creating high value jobs demonstrates Huawei’s confidence in Ireland and the talent pool available here.”

Huawei has a broad range of activities in Ireland, where it serves all of the major telecommunications providers with products and business solutions.

Huawei’s R&D operations in Ireland work closely with Science Foundation Ireland research centres, including Adapt, Connect and Lero, while also having partnerships with DCU, Trinity, UCD, UCC and UL.  Its R&D efforts in Ireland focus on the areas of video, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), site-reliability engineering and 5G consumer use cases.

In 2020, Huawei Ireland began supporting Ocean Research & Conservation Ireland through its global digital inclusion TECH4ALL programme.  Huawei Ireland is providing a research grant and technological support to ORC Ireland as it conducts the first real-time study of the impact of marine traffic on whales in Irish waters. Huawei Ireland also launched the ‘TECH4HER’ Scholarship Programme in partnership with Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) and University College Dublin (UCD), aimed at supporting female students studying STEM subjects.

Huawei Ireland was recently announced as a 2021 regional Top Employer by the Top Employers Institute. Each year, Top Employers Institute certifies organisations who are focused on putting their people first through their exceptional HR policies. The Top Employers Institute programme certifies organisations based on the participation and results of their HR Best Practices Survey. This survey covers 6 HR domains consisting of 20 topics such as People Strategy, Work Environment, Talent Acquisition, Learning, Well-being and Diversity & Inclusion and more.

About Huawei Ireland

Huawei is a leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices. With integrated solutions across four key domains – telecom networks, IT, smart devices, and cloud services – Huawei is committed to bringing digital to every person, home and organisation for a fully connected, intelligent world. Huawei employs over 194,000 people in 170 countries across the globe.

Huawei has been in Ireland since 2004, with its business now serving over 3 million people and supporting over 860 direct and indirect jobs.

Huawei’s business activities in Ireland continue to thrive. Intelligent connectivity with fibre and 5G technologies has begun and will empower the market of mobile networks and broadband networks with AI and IOT technologies.  Huawei Ireland is working very closely with local operators and partners, and is focused on nurturing future talent and highly-skilled professionals in these areas across the country.

Huawei works with a number of Irish third-level institutions, including Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, University of Limerick, University College Dublin, and University College Cork, funding vital Irish research into video, artificial intelligence and cloud computing.  The company also partners key Science Foundation Ireland centres such as Connect, Insight, Adapt and Lero.

Huawei Ireland is supporting Ocean Research & Conservation Ireland, a “for-impact” non-profit organisation based in Cork, to conduct Ireland’s first real-time study to assess the impact of marine traffic on whales in Irish waters. The new study will see the deployment of acoustic monitoring equipment in the Celtic Sea at locations where sightings of whales and other wildlife have been recorded. The equipment will be able to listen for movements of whales, and with the help of machine learning models to enhance data analysis, for the first time provide near real-time detection.

In 2020, Huawei Ireland launched the ‘TECH4HER’ Scholarship Programme in partnership with Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) and University College Dublin (UCD), aimed at supporting female students studying STEM subjects. The scholarships are available at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. In addition to financial support, TECH4HER also offers the opportunity to engage in a mentoring programme with representatives from Huawei.

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Huawei CEO calls for easing of US-China trade tensions

Technology correspondent



Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei (pictured) urged the new US administration to adopt a more open policy towards Chinese companies, though admitted the vendor had no expectation current restrictions on it would be lifted, writes Chris Donkin.

Speaking at a media roundtable, Ren said the company wanted to focus on making good products and did not have the “energy to be involved in this political whirlpool”.

The executive went on to question if the US’ aggressive stance against China’s companies was beneficial to its own economy and businesses.

However, he conceded it would be “extremely difficult” for authorities in the US to lift restrictions already imposed on Huawei.

Huawei was a target of a sustained campaign against it led-by former US President Donald Trump, with various restrictions placed on the company’s activities including bans on US companies supplying the vendor.

The rules have severely restricted Huawei’s handset business in addition to hampering its networks unit: the US successfully persuaded several countries to follow its lead in banning the vendor from supplying 5G network equipment on security grounds.

Trump has since been replaced by Joe Biden, though so far there has been no indication this would lead to an easing in restrictions against the company or its local peers.

During the session Ren also reiterated earlier comments stating Huawei was open to negotiations with US-based businesses about licensing its technology, though noted none had contacted it so far.

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Huawei opens new front in FCC fight

Technology correspondent



Huawei escalated a fight with Federal Communications Commission (FCC), filing a lawsuit seeking to reverse the US regulator’s designation of it as a national security threat, writes Diana Goovaerts.

The Chinese vendor argued in a court filing the FCC exceeded its statutory authority in naming it a threat and the label was “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion, and not supported by substantial evidence”.

It asked a judge to scrap the FCC’s designation and “provide such other relief as this court deems appropriate”.

A FCC representative told Mobile World Live the designation was “based on a substantial body of evidence developed by the FCC and numerous US national security agencies”, adding “we will continue to defend that decision”.

The FCC formally named Huawei and Chinese rival ZTE as security threats in June 2020, and subsequently rejected appeals from both companies challenging their designations.

Under an FCC rule adopted in November 2019, the title prevents US operators from using government funding to purchase or maintain equipment from either vendor.

Huawei’s lawsuit is separate from legal action taken against the FCC in December 2019 aimed at overturning the rule.

The company lost an earlier attempt to reverse US restrictions on government contractors using its products.

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