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Huawei’s Journey to the West. Chapter Two: Acquisitions

Tomorrow, a new partnership between Huawei and the UK’s National Graphene Institute will be announced. This will be another step in Huawei’s long march to win trust through collaborative projects abroad.

You might think this news means that Huawei digs graphene. Well, that’s actually true. Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei fully expects super-materials such as graphene to fundamentally change the world in the near future. But that’s not why Huawei is investing billions in various projects across the UK. Huawei is following through on their pledge to prop up the UK’s economy. That pledge immediately cancelled British plans to ban Huawei from the UK’s general market.

Huawei’s far flung Joint Innovation Centers (JICs) are partnerships between Huawei and local institutions in various countries. Although Huawei gets far better results for R&D investment in China, it now has more than twenty expensive JICs abroad, depending on who is doing the counting. These attractive arrangements allow Huawei to use research funding on a grand scale to gain the cooperation of influential Western institutions. Huawei’s JICs have a tendency to sprout up in Western and West-friendly markets where Huawei is forced to pay if they want to play.

Already, 70% of Huawei’s revenue is earned abroad. And though Huawei has declared “we want to be a European company,” the company remains deeply Chinese. Unfortunately, that means Western governments constantly frustrate Huawei’s attempts to expand its operations abroad. There have been successes, but they are relatively few and modest in light of Huawei’s lemming-like determination to reach the West.

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