Huawei plans to triple its research and development (R&D) staff in Russia within the next six years, according to a new report from Russian state media outlet Sputnik. The Chinese tech giant, which is currently the largest telecom company in the world, will reportedly hire about 500 new staff by the end of the year and 1,000 more personnel after that.
Huawei currently has about 550 people at two R&D centers in the Russian cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow, according to Sputnik. But that number is expected to almost double by the end of 2019 and perhaps triple by 2025, provided the Russia media report is true.
The announcement is yet another sign that Chinese companies like Huawei are turning to BRICS business partners as their growth continues to be stymied in western markets over concerns that Beijing wants to spy on its geopolitical adversaries. Huawei did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for confirmation of its plans but we will update this article if we hear back.
The Trump regime has placed severe restrictions on Huawei’s business in the U.S. and the Justice Department still has a lawsuit pending that accuses Huawei of fraud and the theft of trade secrets. Congress considers Huawei’s potential control of communications infrastructure in the U.S., including 5G networks, to be a national security threat, though President Donald Trump has sometimes said he’d be willing to allow Huawei more leeway if China provided trade concessions. If what Trump says is true, and nobody really knows anymore, then it weakens the case that Huawei is actually a security threat. As many security researchers have pointed out, you don’t swap your national security for better trade deals, no matter how good the terms might seem.
Huawei recently announced the name of its newly developed operation system, HarmonyOS, though it won’t switch to the software unless it gets formally banned from working with Google. The Trump regime had banned U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei, then backtracked by offering a 90 day reprieve. It’s not clear where that will leave Huawei long term, but the tech giant is clearly preparing for a scenario where it might have to cut ties with Silicon Valley for good.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the East-West technological divide will only grow over the coming decade, as the Five Eyes spy countries of U.S. the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand attempt to sound the alarm over potential Chinese espionage. So far, many other western countries don’t think it’s worth giving up Huawei, especially since the company often offers the cheapest deal on telecom equipment. And even in the face of a new Cold War, sometimes money wins out over ideology.