The political news cycle around Huawei over the last few weeks has been particularly active. As trade tensions between the US and China over the last year have risen, the company has become a focus-point for the US Justice Department.

Back in December in particular we saw the high-profile arrest of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada on the grounds of an US arrest warrant. Meng is currently on bail in Vancouver as she awaits extradition hearings by Canadian justice. The primary charges against Meng surround accusations of Huawei circumventing US export sanctions against Iran by using a Hong Kong subsidiary “Skycom”, with Meng committing bank fraud by lying to US banks and trying to hide this connection. Huawei denies any of the asserted violations in the indictment.

Additional charges against Huawei were unsealed on Monday, with the US Justice Department further accusing Huawei of “trying to take a piece of a robot and other technology from a T-Mobile lab that was used to test smartphones”. The charge claims that the event took place in 2012 as Huawei engineers tried to take photos and measurements of an automated screen-tapping robot “Tappy”. Such testing robots have essentially become common place in the industry and are employed by many manufacturers and testing labs. The incident does sound odd in this regard as the technology involved isn’t particularly high-level or that valuable.

In a more recent rebuttal of the US’s accusations, Beijing’s foreign ministry had made a statement on state TV, as quoted by AP:

China called on Washington on Tuesday to “stop the unreasonable crackdown” on Huawei after the United States stepped up pressure on the tech giant by indicting it on charges of stealing technology and violating sanctions on Iran.

Beijing will “firmly defend” its companies, a foreign ministry statement said. 
The foreign ministry complained Washington has “mobilized state power” to hurt Chinese companies “in an attempt to strangle fair and just operations.”

“We strongly urge the United States to stop the unreasonable crackdown on Chinese companies including Huawei,” said the statement read on state TV.

Even though Huawei’s efforts in the US has seen major set-backs and the company essentially doesn’t see any major presence in that market, the company last year still managed to surpass Apple and take over as #2 smartphone vendor. Later in the same year, the company also managed to pass the 200 million mark of shipped smartphones for 2018, signifying an important step for the company’s consumer business.

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Source: AP News

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  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - link

    Eh, not sure what the point of this entire thing is going to accomplish. It seems like an unnecessary exercise catching a corporation between two national governments.
  • BedfordTim - Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - link

    Something is a bit weird here. Normally buyers are happy to share non-critical technology such as tappy with suppliers. Also a screen tapping robot hardly sounds like high tech in hardware terms. The software and sensors might have been special but it is hard to imagine there was anything magical about the arm.
  • pugster - Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - link

    It didn't. T-mobile sued Huawei a few years ago in a civil court and they weren't found guilty of 'stealing' Trade Secrets, but were fined for misappropriated T-Mobile’s trade secrets and the misappropriation was not “willful and malicious”.
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - link

    The whole thing doesn't make sense. T-Mobile has a public video on the robot:

    Plus you can clearly see it's just a Epson robotic hand you can buy:
  • sleepeeg3 - Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - link

    Nice find. Is the US pulling a Europe here and using this as an excuse to shake down Huawei? Hard to trust any globalist government or corporation nowadays.
  • versesuvius - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    It is propaganda. The US administration is, as always, counting on the fact that over 90 percent of its population only sees the headlines, if they do at all, and then does not read the reports anyway. So, to many Americans it will come down to: "China is stealing our money and destroying our jobs and ...". That is and has been enough for the US government since forever.
  • TETRONG - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    Uh, except for that part where Huawei has a policy in place rewarding employees for IP theft of any kind.

    They’re stealing tech from Samsung, Apple, Qualcomm, etc and now Chinese citizens are being discouraged from buying those brands or they can face penalties and ostracization at work for not being patriotic.

    You do know Huawei is directly funded by the government with sweetheart loans right?

    Kind of tired of people acting like this is just xenophobia against the Chinese and not giving Huawei a fair shot.. what they’re doing is despicable and the media needs to make their damaging behavior clear.
  • versesuvius - Thursday, January 31, 2019 - link

    Just read what you wrote again. "A company wide policy for rewarding theft"? "Ostracization for not buying Huawei"? "A government company"? I suppose there is more where all that came from, like Huawei encouraging its employees to wear a funny kind of mustache, that has been out of style for ages. More the reason for the US government to stick to the propaganda line of work.
  • tuxRoller - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    From the linked apnews article:

    "The indictment detailed efforts by Huawei engineers to sneak into the highly-restricted Tappy lab. One engineer succeeded in taking unauthorized photos of the robot. Another managed to sneak it out of the lab to take measurements and photos to send back to China. He returned it after being questioned by T-Mobile, prosecutors said.

    Huawei allegedly offered bonuses in 2013 to employees who stole information from other companies around the world, according to the Seattle indictment, citing emails obtained by the FBI. The bonuses were based on the value of information, which was sent to Huawei using an encrypted email address."

    So, now there is an, alleged, email trail which suggests intent.
    Also, no one said this robot is a big deal now, but this was a bot designed by a T-Mobile engineer back in 2007. The alleged corporate espionage happened in 2012, and, apparently, even then robots like Tappy weren't so typical (or at least those engineers and their handlers weren't aware of them).
    The emails are supposed to be hilarious.

    From the Justice department Press release regarding the indictment (
    According to the indictment, in 2012 Huawei began a concerted effort to steal information on a T-Mobile phone-testing robot dubbed “Tappy.” In an effort to build their own robot to test phones before they were shipped to T-Mobile and other wireless carriers, Huawei engineers violated confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with T-Mobile by secretly taking photos of “Tappy,” taking measurements of parts of the robot, and in one instance, stealing a piece of the robot so that the Huawei engineers in China could try to replicate it. After T-Mobile discovered and interrupted these criminal activities, and then threatened to sue, Huawei produced a report falsely claiming that the theft was the work of rogue actors within the company and not a concerted effort by Huawei corporate entities in the United States and China. As emails obtained in the course of the investigation reveal, the conspiracy to steal secrets from T-Mobile was a company-wide effort involving many engineers and employees within the two charged companies.

    As part of its investigation, FBI obtained emails revealing that in July 2013, Huawei offered bonuses to employees based on the value of information they stole from other companies around the world, and provided to Huawei via an encrypted email address.

    This all may be bs, but this IS new information. These emails weren't available to T-Mobile during the previous civil trial.
  • sonny73n - Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - link

    This is what it’s like when a country became a cooperation. Everyone in the government is just hired hitmen willing to do anything to hold on to their powers. They will not hesitate to use dirty tactics like smearing, intimidating, blackmail, extortion and kidnapping. All for the nation’s interest right?

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