In the latest development about the US-China trade war, Google has warned the Trump administration it is risking to compromise US national security if it pushes ahead with sweeping export restrictions on Huawei and is reportedly asking for an exemption from the ban.
Like all US-based companies, Google has also been banned from doing business dealings with Huawei. This means that Google cannot provide any of its services on Huawei phones. However, the company has secured a temporary license to continue to supply software updates to existing phones.
Google is arguing that if it is not allowed to update its Android operating system on Huawei’s smartphones, the Chinese company could develop its own version of the software. It adds that a Huawei-modified version of Android would be more susceptible to being hacked.
A person aware of this development told FT: “Google has been arguing that by stopping it from dealing with Huawei, the US risks creating two kinds of Android operating system: the genuine version and a hybrid one. The hybrid one is likely to have more bugs in it than the Google one, and so could put Huawei phones more at risk of being hacked, not least by China.”
As per the reports, in the past few weeks, senior Google executives have approached the commerce department asking for another extension or exemption from the ban altogether. With this, it has now joined groups representing major US microchip makers (such as Qualcomm), who are also worried about the impact of the ban on their business.
Banning Huawei from dealing with US companies is definitely a double-edged sword. Huawei would have tough time building smartphones or an app ecosystem without the help of US-originated technology and app developers. On the other hand, US hardware and software companies would lose access to the second largest smartphone maker in the world.
When forced not to work with Google, Huawei can create some kind of viable, China-powered, China-controlled Android operating system that can also be distributed to the rest of the world. Since Android is open source, there’s nothing stopping it from doing this now. So, cutting Huawei off from Google provided tools and updates would force that company to create a competitor, hurting its Android monopoly.