In recent months, Russia has been working with Chinese tech company Huawei to bolster its economy and infrastructure. Huawei has been able to leverage its joint venture with Russia to bolster their research and company goals.
Huawei’s and Russia’s partnership is mutually beneficial, as Russia does not currently have a competitor to Huawei but has the means to improve manufacturing. With access to R&D in Russia, Huawei has capacity for better security. A joint statement, signed by Putin and Xi in June, stated that “the China-Russian relationship has entered a new era, and is facing new opportunities for greater development.” Commenting on the partnership, China’s state-run media reported that “the objective of such a new kind of partnership is for both sides to give more support to each other as they seek to take their own development paths, preserve respective core interests, and protect sovereignty and territorial integrity.” (Doffman).
Huawei over the last year has become a leader in Russian tech, ranging from 5G networks to smartphone sales (Simes). As both Russia and China have faced backlash from the West, they have recently begun to work together, and “while Huawei has encountered road blocks in the U.S. and Europe on allegations that it could be used to spy for the Chinese government… such accusations hold no water in Moscow” as the Kremlin views Huawei “as a law-abiding company that does not engage in such things because no one has presented any evidence,” according to Eldar Murtazin, editor-in-chief of Mobile Review (Simes).
This positive view of Huawei in Russia has led to Huawei to lead in Russia’s 5G infrastructure (Agencies). Despite being banned from working with U.S. 5G, Huawei is the world’s leader in 5G tech and could be poised to help Russia become a leader in tech (Griffiths). While Russia has usually been seen as behind in technology, MTS’s joint deal with Huawei may allow them to give Russia the intensely fast communication speeds that 5G can allow (Pham).
Huawei’s involvement in Russia is leading to a “technological war” between China, Russia, and the United States. In June, Putin met China’s president during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (Doffman). The two countries cemented a strategic relationship representing a large threat to the United States and its allies. The leaders signed a joint statement announcing that “the China-Russian relationship has entered a new era, and is facing new opportunities for greater development” (Doffman). At the event, Putin accused the United States of “brazenly forcing Huawei from the global market,” causing the “first technological war of the coming digital era” (Doffman).
Along with Russia potentially emulating China’s ‘Great Firewall’, Russia has taken to Huawei. Russia’s RuNet, part of its Sovereign Internet law, is looming closer, which could bring increased censorship, surveillance and monitoring (Doffman). Alongside the new Russian Internet, Huawei currently has 37% of the Russian smartphone market, a figure which has nearly tripled since 2017 (Haridy). Additionally, the Chinese company was banned in the United States for alleged spying through its devices and has been seen recently selling easily-abused security cameras to various European countries (CBS/AP).
Huawei and Russia will continue their partnership, as long as Russia does not have a competitor to Huawei but has the means to help better manufacture. With access to R&D in Russia, Huawei also has capacity for better security. The two parties will likely work together to increase surveillance in Russia as the Kremlin unfolds its new internet laws.
Agencies. “China’s Huawei Signs Deal to Develop 5G Network in Russia.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, June 6, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jun/06/chinas-huawei-signs-deal-to-develop-5g-network-in-russia.
CBS/AP. “Chinese Facial Recognition Tech Installed in Nations Vulnerable to Abuse.” CBS News. CBS Interactive. Accessed November 13, 2019. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/china-huawei-face-recognition-cameras-serbia-other-countries-questionable-human-rights-2019-10-16/.
Doffman, Zak. “Huawei Soars In Russia As Putin Engages In New ‘Technological War’.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, November 11, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2019/11/03/huawei-soars-in-russia-as-putin-engages-in-new-technological-war/#45942f19765c.
Doffman, Zak. “Putin Moves Closer To China As New ‘Technological War’ With U.S. Intensifies.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, November 10, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2019/11/09/putin-is-swayed-by-china-as-new-technological-war-intensifies/#7f34505b24a2.
Doffman, Zak. “Putin Now Has Russia’s Internet Kill Switch To Stop U.S. Cyberattacks.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, October 29, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2019/10/28/putin-now-has-russias-internet-kill-switch-to-stop-us-cyberattacks/#14192a6631b2.
Griffiths, James. “Huawei Is Building 5G in Russia and China. We May Be Seeing the Start of the Internet Break Up.” CNN. Cable News Network, June 7, 2019. https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/07/business/huawei-russia-china-splinternet-intl/index.html.
Haridy, Rich. “Huawei, the US Ban, and Links to Chinese Spying Explained.” New Atlas, August 15, 2019. https://newatlas.com/huawei-ban-us-what-spy-evidence-exists/59772/.
Pham, Sherisse. “China’s Huawei Will Build Russia’s 5G Network.” CNN. Cable News Network, June 6, 2019. https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/06/tech/huawei-china-russia-5g/index.html.
Simes, Dimitri. “Russia and Huawei Team up as Tech Cold War Deepens.” Nikkei Asian Review. Nikkei Asian Review, October 28, 2019. https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Russia-and-Huawei-team-up-as-tech-cold-war-deepens.