Reeling from the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, Chinese technology giant Huawei has found itself in yet another dilemma: How to pursue internal communications with its own U.S. employees? For now, the company has ordered its Chinese employees to bar technical meetings with their U.S. contacts and sent home the American workers deployed in research and development functions in Shenzhen headquarters.
Dang Wenshuan, Huawei’s chief strategy architect, told the Financial Times that the company has also limited general communications between its Chinese and U.S. workers. The move comes as the Chinese technology giant scrambles to comply with the murky laws after its weeks-long tension with the U.S. government sees no signs of resolution in the immediate future.
The Chinese giant is also controlling the subjects of interactions workers in its campus have with overseas visitors. The conversations cannot touch topics related to technology, the FT report said. Dang said the company was just trying to ensure it was on the right side of the law.
It remains unclear exactly how export controls could mandate disruption of internal communications within an organization. Huawei could be using this tack as a bargaining chip, showing the U.S. that its own citizens are being hurt by its policies. A Huawei spokesperson declined to comment on queries sent by TechCrunch.
Earlier this month, Huawei and 68 affiliates were put on an “entity list” by the U.S. Commerce Department over national security concerns, forcing American companies to take approval from the government before conducting any business with the Chinese giant. In the aftermath, a range of companies, including chipmakers, Google and Microsoft, have made significant changes to their business agreements with Huawei.
In recent weeks, several Huawei executives have spoken out about the significance of the U.S. government order. In the meantime, the company has also explored ways to fight back the order. Earlier this week, Huawei filed a legal motion to challenge the U.S. ban on its equipment, calling it “unconstitutional.”
At stake is the future of one of the largest suppliers of smartphones and networking equipment. A significant portion of the company’s business comes from outside of China. For smartphones, one of its core businesses, the company says it is already working on an operating system that does not rely on technologies sourced from U.S. companies. But it is yet to provide any evidence on how — and if — that operating system would function.
The U.S. government earlier this month offered some relief to Huawei by granting a temporary general export license for 90 days, which allows companies such as Google to continue to provide critical support to the Chinese company for three months.