Alibaba lashes out at US over ‘unfair’ treatment of Huawei as tech giant faces scrutiny

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E-commerce giant Alibaba slammed the US for attempting to curb Huawei’s access to Western markets. A senior official from the company says a political agenda lies behind Washington and its allies’ treatment of the Chinese firm.

“I think what the American government and together with the Five Eyes Alliance – what they’re trying to do with Huawei – is a bit unfair, there’s definitely a political agenda behind it,” Joe Tsai, an executive vice chairman at Alibaba, said at a Reuters event in Hong Kong on Friday.

The ‘Five Eyes’ group he referred to is comprised of New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the UK and US – all of which allege the Chinese provider could pose a threat to their national security. The first two countries have already barred Huawei from assisting in building 5G networks.

Washington has already forbidden government agencies from using Huawei’s technology and is mulling a ban on the 5G rollout, while London and Ottawa are also reviewing the telecom giant’s access to their markets.

Canada has played more than a minor role in the Huawei saga, as the company’s finance chief, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in the country last month. Her arrest sparked a diplomatic row between Canada and China and added further fuel to the fire of the US-China trade war, as Washington is seeking her extradition.

Alibaba’s executive vice chairman said the US’ leadership turned the problem of the trade deficit into a broader anti-China campaign, which “worries everybody.”

“President Trump may have started it focusing on the trade deficit itself… but over the course of the last nine months it was blown into a bigger anti-China problem,” Tsai stated.

Alibaba’s founder, prominent Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, earlier spoke out against the trade war between the world’s two largest economies. He called the row “the stupidest thing in this world” and warned that it could last 20 years. Last year, he also backtracked on his famous promise to create a million jobs in the US, blaming the US-instigated dispute for “destroying the premise the promise was made on.”

Earlier this week, Huawei warned it may pull out of countries where it is not welcome. While the company did not explicitly point to particular countries, it later proclaimed that even without the US market it can become the world’s biggest smartphone seller.