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Inside the Secretive Chinese Telecom That Trump Just Banned

Huawei tried to save its image over a weeklong press junket.

by William Turton and Karen Ye
May 18 2019, 1:32pm

SHENZHEN, China — President Trump signed an executive order this week banning U.S. telecommunication companies from using equipment made by foreign firms that pose a national security risk. It’s a sweeping order pretty much targeting, without naming, just one company: the Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

It’s unclear just how the order will damage Huawei’s business globally, but it would likely stop the company from expanding its 5G networking technology into the United States. The order comes as Huawei has been accused of intellectual property theft, corporate espionage, and violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Huawei is the world’s largest telecommunications network provider and the second largest smartphone manufacturer. But for years, U.S. intelligence agencies have warned that Huawei could be a spying arm of the Chinese government.

To repair its image globally, Huawei posted a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal in February that invited American journalists over for a weeklong junket to dispel allegations that the company is an extension of the Chinese surveillance state.

“We wanted to invite U.S. media to come ask any questions on behalf of American customers,” said Catherine Chen, Huawei’s corporate senior vice president and director of the board.

VICE News took Huawei up on its offer and found out we were the only news organization that showed up.

This segment originally aired May 16, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.