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#Technology does not exist in a vacuum

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It’s sunny and warm in Shenzhen now, and the restaurants and cafes are serving lunch to young professionals and workers in the open air. People are chatting, and sitting on park benches while eating, or making their way back to their offices, writes Abraham Liu.

The traffic is busy, and the shops are open and doing good trade. At a nearby hotel, the airport shuttle bus is pulling away from the lobby on time, as usual. It’s a normal spring day in this sprawling city of 13 million people. Except it’s not.

If you look closely, you can see that everyone is wearing a mask. People are eating their lunch distanced from each other and in staggered shifts. Many are taking away pre-ordered packed lunches back to their desks.

Abraham Liu is Huawei Vice President for the European Region and Chief Representative to the EU Institutions, Brussels.

Abraham Liu is Huawei Vice President for the European Region and Chief Representative to the EU Institutions, Brussels.

There are more cars on the road than usual, and the work shuttle busses that are normally full of employees being ferried back and forth to their homes are half empty. It’s almost impossible to find a parking space, as people choose to drive on their own to work.

The hotel to airport mini-van has no-one on board – because the hotel has no guests. Many of the smaller restaurants and corner shops are still shut – sadly, never to reopen.

The Cinema is still advertising films from 3 months ago, as its shutters are down and its screens dark. The famous electronics market downtown is doing business – but only a third of stalls are trading – the others have no customers and no reason to open.

Residents have their temperatures monitored every time they enter their compounds, and no visitors from outside are allowed in. Boyfriends and girlfriends remain separated.

These are the stories I hear from my colleagues in Shenzhen, where Huawei has its headquarters. It’s clear to me that things have changed. Some of them temporarily, but some of them perhaps more permanently.

And, I believe, the experience we will go through here in Europe will be very similar. At the moment we are still in the midst of the situation here, but we will need to adjust to a new world, post-COVID-19. Not least in the world of work and business.

On a very basic level, I think we have all found remote working and working from home challenging during this period. And I think it has shown that there are still technological problems – for example, the shortcomings of some of Europe’s broadband networks, and their difficulty coping with such an increase in demand on the networks.

I also believe that after this period, it’s going to be essential for economies to get going fast again, so that truly no-one is left behind, and that the inevitable job-losses are minimized, and it’s the duty of global companies like Huawei to help in that process.

Many people across Europe may have lost their jobs just like in China, and there could be many people having to start again.

We may go in and out of lockdowns and restrictions for a very long time…the path is not going to be a short or a straight one.

That is why it’s important to stress that we are increasing our commitment to Europe this year. We will be creating more jobs for Europeans – for example, we have already announced our plans to build a factory to make 5G equipment here in Europe, and we are continuing our search for talented people to join us across the continent.

The Coronavirus pandemic has also exposed the big differences in connectivity and digital economies around the world, and around Europe in fact. And again, this highlights the need to move fast after this period with investment in new connectivity solutions like 5G.

Governments will have lots of debt, so things will be difficult. New businesses will need to start and grow, and there will be new opportunities and ways of doing things. Hopefully, people will have recognised the good that technology has done and that the digital economy was able to contribute during this difficult period.

Technology does not exist in a vacuum – it is just a tool for humans. In the long run, this could actually help close the gap on the digital divide and bring Europe closer to its goal of Digital Sovereignty.

Improving our connectivity and our digital economies is the best way to do this, regardless of any external geopolitical influences. The world is interconnected and needs to be more so to help us get through challenges like this.

It is possible to build a new business and do new types of business if the technology is there, and we can help re-build businesses, livelihoods, and countries’ economies, creating new jobs faster.

Many people will endure hardships as the world starts to move on, but I believe particularly as a company operating in the tech sphere, but not just because of that, we can help. We want to help. Indeed it’s our duty to do so on a continent that has shown us so much trust over the past 20 years.

After all, it is spring in Shenzhen now. The cherry blossoms are blooming again. And, I am convinced, it will soon be spring in Europe too.

Abraham Liu is Huawei Vice President for the European Region and Chief Representative to the EU Institutions, Brussels.

Huawei

More than 100 jobs to be created by Huawei in Ireland

Technology correspondent

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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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China

Huawei CEO calls for easing of US-China trade tensions

Technology correspondent

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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

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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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