Russia rolls out the red carpet for Huawei over 5G

Russia rolls out the red carpet for Huawei over 5G
People queue outside a newly opened Huawei flagship store in Shenzhen in China’s southern Guangdong province. (AFP)
Updated 30 September 2019

Russia rolls out the red carpet for Huawei over 5G

Russia rolls out the red carpet for Huawei over 5G
  • The smartphone company plans to lead in the development of 6G in future, says top official

MOSCOW: While the US banned Huawei for alleged espionage and asked its allies to do the same, Moscow has rolled out the red carpet for the Chinese tech company, letting it develop 5G networks in Russia.

Analysts say the move is as much a show of solidarity with Beijing against the US as it is a drive to bring ultra high-speed internet to Russian tech users.

This month, Huawei opened its first 5G test zone in Moscow in partnership Russian operator MTS, with a view to rolling out the service to the rest of the capital.

Moscow authorities say the network will become part of the city’s normal infrastructure within the next few years.

A pioneer in telecoms networks compared to many Western countries, Russia plans to deploy 5G in all of its main cities by 2024.

When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Russia in June — at the height of Washington’s conflict with Huawei — Russia’s main operator MTS signed a contract with the Chinese company.

At the inauguration of the 5G zone in Moscow, the CEO of Russia’s branch of Huawei Zhao Lei praised the company’s activities in the country.

“We have been working in Russia for 22 years. Thanks to our partners, we live well here,” he said. He added that Huawei, considered a world leader in 5G technology, plans to “lead in the development of 6G” in the future.

Huawei is also the world’s second-largest smartphone company. It did not respond to AFP’s interview requests. A source in Russia’s 5G research community said Huawei is the biggest investor in the development of mobile technologies in Russia, with “the largest research laboratory of all operators” in Moscow.

According to the Vedomosti business daily, Huawei currently employs 400 people in Moscow and 150 in Saint Petersburg in mobile research and development. It aims to employ 500 more people by the end of 2019 and 1,000 more over five years.

Experts said Russia’s welcome of Huawei does not mean the Chinese company is alone in the race for developing 5G in Russia.

“Russian operators are all collaborating with multiple 5G equipment vendors, Huawei included. We do not see any clear 5G leaders in the network deployment in Russia,” said Michela Landoni, an analyst at Fitch Solutions. She said operators prefer this approach to avoid being “reliant on one specific vendor” and to protect themselves against cyber threats.

The Tele2 operator was the first to launch 5G in Russia with Sweden’s Ericsson in August, on Moscow’s main Tverskaya street.

In the midst of a trade war and technological rivalry with China, the US has threatened to cut Huawei’s access to the US components and services it needs, such as the Android operating system that the company uses on its phones.

Russia then promptly stepped in to offer its Aurora operating system to the Chinese group.

If Android remains Huawei’s preferred choice, Landoni said Aurora could be a “short-term solution” for the group.

According to the analyst, Aurora could become a “stepping stone” in the development for Huawei’s own OS.


Asia to dominate Davos virtual forum as virus-hit West struggles

Asia to dominate Davos virtual forum as virus-hit West struggles
The 2020 WEF, which took place in its usual Swiss Alpine resort of Davos, saw the global elite just starting to worry about a pandemic that surfaced in China a month earlier. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 January 2021

Asia to dominate Davos virtual forum as virus-hit West struggles

Asia to dominate Davos virtual forum as virus-hit West struggles
  • Spotlight will be on Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will give a speech on Monday — the opening day of the event

PARIS: Emerging stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic, Asia is set to dominate this year’s virtual World Economic Forum as a virus-battered West struggles and a new US president faces particularly daunting challenges.

The 2020 WEF, which took place in its usual Swiss Alpine resort of Davos, saw the global elite just starting to worry about a pandemic that surfaced in China a month earlier.
While the coronavirus leaves a mounting death toll and upends economies, depriving millions of people of work, China and Asian countries in 2021 are making a strong comeback from the virus that hit them first.
In virtual format because of the pandemic, next week’s event is headlined: “A Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust.”
The spotlight will be on Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will give a speech on Monday, the opening day of the event that will last through next Friday.
The big names from Europe will be German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who heads the EU executive.
US President Joe Biden will not appear at the virtual Davos, which has never been a fixture on the White House calendar — even if the new administration has pledged to revive a US multilateral foreign policy after four years of Donald Trump’s America First approach.
Trump had been an exception as he stopped in Davos twice, with the real estate billionaire enjoying mixing with the global business elite.
Before him, Bill Clinton was the only American president who had traveled to Davos, and that was just once.
Showing up from Asia are China’s and South Korea’s presidents as well as the prime ministers of India and Japan.
Following the first virtual session, Davos will move in May to Singapore, far from the luxury Swiss ski resort where it has taken place since it was launched in 1971, the brainchild of German professor Klaus Schwab.
The stated reason for the changes is health safety.

FASTFACT

The big names from Europe will be German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who heads the EU executive.

But a virtual forum is not particularly attractive for the world’s well-heeled movers and shakers, who value huddles behind closed doors in fancy hotels over meetings in formal settings.
French insurance-credit group Euler Hermes said in a study this month that the “world’s economic center of gravity” (WECG) has been moving toward Asia since 2002.
“The COVID-19 crisis could accelerate the shifting global balance toward Asia,” it added.
“By 2030, we forecast the WECG, could be located around the confluence of China, India and Pakistan,” the study projected.
The speech by Xi, who addressed Davos back in 2017, seems almost to set the clock back, as if the business world seeks to erase the Trump era.
Four years ago, he presented himself as the champion of free trade, much to the joy of Davos participants who feared the newly elected Trump’s protectionist moves.
Biden is nevertheless sending John Kerry, the special climate envoy who will be welcomed after the new Democratic president has brought Washington back into the Paris climate accord.
The agenda includes workshops titled: “Stakeholder Capitalism: Building the Future” as well as “Advancing a New Social Contract” and “Resetting Consumption for a Sustainable Future.”
In a column published in mid-January, Schwab said 2021 could be a positive and historic year, 75 years after the original “Year Zero” following the devastation of World War II.
“We once again have a chance to rebuild,” he said, calling for rethinking capitalism in the light of a pandemic that has worsened inequality.
He said “COVID-19 has delivered the final blow” to the post-war model where free markets and limited government produced prosperity and progress that now is “no longer sustainable, environmentally or socially.”