A recent press release from Huawei has revealed that the company is deepening its partnership with Greek industrial conglomerate Mytilineos, agreeing to supply Huawei solar inverters to PV plants in the UK, Spain, Cyprus and beyond. The deal has already sparked concern among certain analysts and stakeholders that the partnership is simply a means of insinuating Huawei components into European countries’ critical energy infrastructure for the company’s own aims – and for those of the Chinese government, to which Huawei has extremely close ties, writes Louis Auge.
Whether that’s the intent behind this particular partnership with Mytilineos, the move has shed a spotlight on the fact that European policymakers have yet to fully address the question of whether sensitive Huawei equipment should be allowed a role in European renewable energy infrastructure. The Chinese firm has been hurt badly by US sanctions against its telecommunications operations and is banking on its solar power activities to emerge as a major breadwinner. The same security suspicions, however, persist in this new avenue of commerce – even if EU lawmakers have remained largely silent on the question up to this point.
Huawei an extension of the Chinese state?
One of the major concerns about Huawei is the company’s allegedly tight links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The firm has denied the connection on multiple occasions and insisted that it’s entirely “employee-owned”. Nevertheless, evidence continues to mount suggesting that Huawei and the powers-that-be in Beijing are closer than they profess to be. Two American researchers carried out an April 2019 investigation into Huawei’s ownership arrangement and concluded that the business had been misleading about its ownership. In the wake of the report, Huawei went into damage control mode—but a 90-minute interview given by the chief secretary of Huawei’s board of directors gave an unsatisfying explanation of the situation.
Indeed, that controversy-defusing PR stunt did not quite have the intended effect. The same researchers carried out a follow-up study three months later, analyzing over 25,000 resumes of past and present Huawei employees and finding “troubling” links to Chinese military and intelligence agencies in the process. Meanwhile, a British parliamentary enquiry also uncovered evidence of “collusion” between Huawei and the Chinese government, validating the suspicions that have led many European governments to follow Washington’s lead in blocking Huawei from large swaths of their telecommunications networks, including 5G infrastructure.
Solar-powered survival strategy
The US has taken a particularly hostile stance on Huawei above and beyond the telecoms industry, with 10 bipartisan senators sending a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in December 2019 outlining their concerns about allowing Huawei technology to gain an important foothold in the renewables market. The lawmakers’ concerns followed a similar missive in February of the same year, which was sent to the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security, with President Trump making moves to sideline the company as a result. Huawei responded by announcing a total shutdown of its solar operations in the States in June 2019, citing an “unwelcome climate”.
Despite pulling out of the US solar sector, Huawei still has significant designs on the sector in other countries. Shut out of the 5G market in much of the world and suffering from American sanctions which have crippled its access to the high-tech chips it needs to build smartphones and other products, Huawei is hoping that the ever-expanding renewable energy sector can give its business a boost. Given that the Chinese firm commands 22% of the global market for the solar inverters that are an essential part of any PV system, it’s perhaps unsurprising that it wishes to cement its place as a leading name away from the States – for example, in Europe and beyond.
Brussels must be proactive
The memorandum of cooperation with Mytilineos is testament to that ambition – but critics worry that business success isn’t the only target in Huawei’s crosshairs. The fact that Mytilineos and its subsidiaries already have a number of agreements to supply PV projects to European countries means that those nations may now unwittingly be embedding Huawei technology into their renewable infrastructure which could allow Beijing a backdoor into their energy grids.
It’s not difficult to envision the problems which this could cause, given China’s long history of industrial espionage. What’s more, a widespread blackout which swept across Mumbai last October—ostensibly a warning from Beijing over skirmishes on the Sino-Indian border—has raised concerns that Chinese authorities are seeking to interfere in other countries’ electric grids in particular.
Under the circumstances, the prospect of Huawei-produced devices making their way into the heart of the European electric grid is deeply troubling. As has been seen with the Mytilineos partnership, there is a real danger that countries will sleepwalk their way into an energy infrastructure that’s sustainable and clean – but subject to Beijing’s whims. With it now looking likely that Huawei equipment will pop up in solar power projects in Cyprus, Spain and other countries across the European bloc, the time is ripe for lawmakers to take action and prevent the pervasive influence of the CCP from creeping any further.
Women in the digital era: Unleashing the potential of female talent for a stronger Europe
Huawei is celebrating International Women’s Day today (8 March) by holding a debate on gender equality, diversity and inclusion in the digital technology sector and society as a whole.
The debate, 'Women in the Digital Era: Unleashing the Potential of Female Talent for a Stronger Europe', involved MEPs, representatives from European agencies and industry associations, and Huawei executives, and focused on how to get more women into leadership roles in the digital and wider economy.
“It is a fantastic way to celebrate International Women’s Day. I couldn’t think of a better way to do it, so congratulations to Huawei for the initiative,” said keynote speaker Maria da Graça Carvalho MEP, the European Parliament’s Rapporteur for the flagship report on Closing the Digital Gender Gap.
Huawei’s Senior EU Public Affairs Manager Berta Herrero moderated the conference’s two panels, 'Women’s Participation in Europe’s Recovery' and 'Women in Cybersecurity'.
“We are proud to organize these conferences. We are happy to invest our resources in fostering the debate in the cybersecurity and technological fields with respect to equality, diversity and inclusion. Our end goal is to inspire the next generation of women to shape the world of tomorrow, and to build the appropriate foundations for them to be able to do it,” she said.
Watch the full debate
Visit the event website
WHAT THEY SAID DURING THE DEBATE:
Maria da Graça Carvalho, MEP: “We need to make sure that we remove the obstacles for women’s participation in the digital economy. We cannot afford digital to become a new way of discrimination, so we need to act. In Europe, only 18% of the professionals who work in ICT are women. 17% of students in ICT-related subjects are girls. Less than 3% of girls between 6 and 10 years-old want to work in ICT when they grow up. The importance of role models is crucial, that women identify with other women who are successful in careers in ICT.”
Agnieszka Stasiakowska,Senior Business Acceleration Manager, European Commission’s Executive Agency for SMEs: “We need more women in governing boards of companies, we need more women in science, in academia. We need to invest in skills enhancement, in leadership enhancement, in showing those model roles to women, sharing personal stories.”
Branwen Miles, Policy Advisor, COPA/COGECA (the European association of farmers and agri-cooperatives): “Digital tools have the ability to revolutionize the agricultural sector to help and assist farmers in becoming more sustainable, more efficient. This can also be an avenue of economic empowerment for women. Because there’s still this untapped potential that women farmers have which we need to support, to advocate and give them the opportunity to reach this potential.”
Sophie Batas, Huawei’s Director for Cyber Security and Data Privacy in Europe: “Cybersecurity is a very multi-disciplinary sector. It requires various types of profiles and very specific skills, for instance: caring for people, being able to communicate in a precise way swiftly, negotiation skills, a broad understanding of the situation, ability to react quickly, and I think all those skills are naturally embedded in the DNA of women. That’s why we have a growing number of women in cybersecurity. I’m also experiencing it in Huawei and it’s a pleasure to work hand in hand with other women and with men.”
Nina Hasratyan, Policy Manager, European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO); Operational Coordinator, Women4Cyber Foundation: “We hope that women role models in cybersecurity will inspire the young generations and show them the pool of possibilities. Only 11% of the cybersecurity workforce in the world are women; it’s only 7% in Europe, very disappointing results here. We need to step up a lot. That’s exactly the reason we created Women4Cyber to actually have concrete activities and actions and show concrete results..”
Iva Tasheva, Co-Founder and Cybersecurity Management Lead, CyEn: “If we want society to be inclusive, we also have to have diversity in the design of technological solutions, to take into consideration the interests, shortcomings and issues of the different groups there are. It would work for me as a woman, it would work for everyone eventually, whether it’s language, interests or background that differentiates us.”
Berta Herrero, Senior EU Public Affairs Manager, Huawei: “For the Europe of tomorrow to be a Union of Equals, we need to start building true and full equality at all levels, in all fields, and across all countries and regions.”
“We rise up by lifting others. Change can only happen if society as a whole believes in it. So both men and women need to be part of this fight for equality, for inclusion and for diversity in the digital sphere and beyond.”
AND MEN… ON HOW MEN… CAN BEST SUPPORT THE FIGHT FOR EQUALITY IN THE DIGITAL ERA
Ibán García del Blanco MEP: “It’s a question of attitude. I think men have to become feminists as well, because feminism is not only a question of feelings (or) justice, but even a question of efficiency from the economic perspective.”
Philip Herd, Huawei EU Communications Director:
“It’s a supporting role (that men can play) in many ways, and it may be simple things such as making the workplace more inclusive, less threatening or making the work-life balance better, because it’s a fact that burden of child care, balancing of career and home, generally falls on women more than on men.”
International organisations can play a crucial role in promoting #ICT for economic recovery - #Huawei
International multilateral organisations have a crucial role to play in promoting ICT technologies - to help the European and global economies recover from the Covid-19 crisis, Huawei’s Chief Representative to the EU Institutions Abraham Liu said during an online debate today.
“Huawei has demonstrated know-how and dedication during recent months, setting up 5G networks with telecom operators in hospitals, providing technological solutions for telemedicine and for pandemic control procedures,” said Abraham Liu during the debate “Economic Transition into the ‘New Normal’: how can international organisations help European economies bounce back”, organised by The Brussels Times. “5G and AI technologies are also used in vaccine development and have played a key role in reliable medical data quantitative analysis. Our technology has also been successfully applied to managing public and private sector re-opening,” Abraham Liu underlined.
“The process of innovation does not stop at any defined geographical border,” Mr Liu added. “The Horizon Europe research, innovation and science programme 2021-2027 is a key policy instrument that can play an important role in boosting economic competitiveness in Europe, delivering the EU Green deal and tackling the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
As lockdowns lift cautiously across Europe, the focus of collective attention is shifting to what key players can do to help the economy recover. Today’s debate, moderated by Digital Storyteller Dan Sobovitz and The Brussels Times journalist Pauline Bock, asked how the good practice that has come to the fore during the pandemic can be shared in the future, to ensure safe progress to renewed economic prosperity in Europe.
High-level representatives from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), World Economic Forum (WEF), United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) andthe
Learn ON programme
Another good example of Huawei’s collaboration with international organisations is in its Learn ON programme to prevent education disruption during the pandemic. Working with UNESCO and partner schools and colleges, Learn ON has delivered an online distance education system to support around 50,000 students and their teachers.
The programme is continuing for the rest of 2020 with more than 100 online Train the Trainer (TTT) courses, involving 1,500 teachers, and the opening of over 130 Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) covering advanced technological fields such as AI, Big Data, 5G and IoT, funded by a EUR 4.6 million Huawei ICT Academy Development Incentive Fund (ADIF).
Technologies Critical in the Fight Against #Covid-19 Pandemic
The world has been severely hit by the pandemic triggered by the widespread coronavirus. All walks of life have been forced to overhaul their lifestyle and work habits. Such transformation couldn’t have been possible without cloud-based services, which allow enterprises to swiftly alter their business models to catch up with these rapid changes.
Imagine if there were no cloud. The “lockdown” would likely keep businesses out of operation. Working from home would be one of the wildest dreams. Online streaming entertainment like Netflix would not be helping so many grounded people with entertainment. Not to mention delivery services like Deliveroo that bring food to families that normally don’t spend much time in the kitchen. All these require robust AI and cloud services to keep things running as “normally” as we can hope for.
Cloud Helps People to Live Normally Amid Abnormal Times
But cloud-based services do more than just let people live as normally as possible in such unprecedented times. The power of cloud has been shown in a wide range of scenarios. It can be as simple as online meetings, or some complex tasks requiring AI and cloud computing, such as gene sequencing, drug screening, diagnosis, epidemic survey. It can be used to monitor whether people are properly wearing masks. Everything counts.
In terms of education, with so many students grounded, online learning becomes essential, and it requires solid cloud-based services. It is more than just providing cloud space for virtual meetings; it also requires a host of tools to maintain teaching standards.
As an international ICT enterprise, Huawei is devoted to making the world better. Among those measures is the TECH4ALL corporate program, which aims to help everyone gain access to technology. Amid this pandemic, we see the urgent need of technologies to ensure that deliverables reach the right places.
Through “solidarity, trust and innovation”, Europe can lead the world out of the current coronavirus pandemic and into a new cycle of economic growth, Huawei’s Chief Representative to the EU Institutions, Abraham Liu, told a conference in Brussels. Europe has a unique opportunity to lead the world out of this crisis as a major power – but only if it remains united,” said Mr Liu.
“Companies like Huawei can help get people working again and revive economies,” said Mr Liu: “This can help build bridges again between countries. We are a major employer in Europe and we will continue to create jobs. Our sector is fundamental to Europe’s recovery. Digital technology and communications should be the building blocks of Europe’s recovery plan.”
Various Sectors Can Benefit from Cloud-Based Services
Among different measures under the international action plan, HUAWEI CLOUD is now providing AI and cloud services to help customers around the world fight epidemics. The initiatives cover various domains ranging from medical and educational to enterprise supports. For education, HUAWEI CLOUD is currently working with various partners to provide online education services for schools and other educational institutions. More than 1,000 schools are using the HUAWEI CLOUD online education solution, and the results have been impressive.
On the healthcare front, HUAWEI CLOUD is providing EIHealth services. Powered by the advantages of AI and big data technologies, EIHealth provides a professional AI R&D platform to accelerate AI applications in genomics, drug discovery, and medical imaging. The free services include viral genome detection, antiviral drug in silico screening, and AI-assisted CT patient screening service, and more. Since January, the HUAWEI CLOUD AI solution has been used at more than 100 medical institutions.
In the business sector, enterprises are also receiving support to migrate businesses to the cloud to ensure continuous operations while the pandemic continues. HUAWEI CLOUD is now offering a 12-month package with up to 1,500 hours of free cloud resources for each newly registered user, complete with 24/7 professional support online. In February, HUAWEI CLOUD launched a special program, providing free cloud resource packages for small and medium-sized enterprises during the pandemic. Other solutions are also ready to be in place to support work resumption.
Joint Efforts Necessary to Fight Pandemic
Because it will take collective efforts to weather this hardship, Huawei is hoping more organizations can get together to help everyone in the critical moments. In fact, significant progress has been seen in many regions, where Huawei is working with partners to provide support to hospitals, medical care facilities, and SMEs.
In Malaysia, for instance, Huawei works with the country’s Ministry of Health to contribute the Huawei Cloud AI-assisted Diagnosis solution to Sungai Buloh Hospital. The goal is to empower local medical personnel with AI capabilities by providing an AI solution for CT image analysis of possible COVID-19 patients. ULearning of Indonesia is providing online education in local universities via Huawei’s solutions, while Singapore’s 7-Network provides a health information report platform for small and medium-sized enterprises with support from HUAWEI CLOUD.
Other countries including Ecuador and Panama are using AI technology to screen COVID-19 in several hospitals, while Argentina International Airport is applying an intelligent thermal imaging temperature measurement system. These technologies are launched by HUAWEI CLOUD and local partners.
At the same time, Huawei is also supporting numerous initiatives led by other private organizations to fight Covid-19 by providing cloud and AI technologies as well as tech support.
Strongly believing in partnership, Huawei hopes more organizations can work together to help not only to fight the epidemic but to help the world recover within a reasonable time frame. Only unity will help us win this war.
For more information, please visit Huawei Cloud at: https://activity.huaweicloud.com/intl/en-us/fight-covid-19.html
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