The Chinese firm Huawei has launched a stinging attack against the US, amid fears that new sanctions on the telecoms and technology giant by Washington could lead to industrial threats against some of Ireland’s biggest employers.
Donald Trump’s administration is set to ban US firms from supplying components to other companies that provide Huawei with key technology.
At an analyst conference, company executives responded by describing the move as “pernicious and arbitrary” and that it would “have an effect”.
The move could leave some Irish-based subsidiaries of US multinational firms fearing an indirect loss of business.
“Based on what I know, if the US further blocks key technology supply to Huawei, China will activate the ‘unreliable entity list,’ [and] restrict or investigate US companies such as Qualcomm, Cisco and Apple, and suspend the purchase of Boeing airplanes,” said the editor in chief of the Chinese Global Times, Hu Xijin.
Apple is Cork’s largest industrial employer, with over 6,000 people. Qualcomm also has offices in Cork.
Last year, then Fianna Fail TD Willie O’Dea voiced fears for the future of Analog Devices, which employs over 1,200 people in Limerick and provides components to Huawei for smartphones.
A spokesman for Huawei could not say if the tightening sanctions would directly affect companies located here.
But other company executives said that the US was involved in a crude game of one upmanship for trade reasons.
“The US is leveraging its own technological strengths to crush companies outside its own borders,” the company said in a statement. “Ultimately this will harm US interests.”
China has complained to the US about the tightening sanctions, which the US says has been taken on foot of security fears over Huawei being too close to the Chinese government.
“In its relentless pursuit to tighten its stranglehold on our company, the US government has decided to completely ignore the concerns of many companies and industry associations,” the Huawei statement continued.
“To attack a leading company from another country, the US government has intentionally turned its back on the interests of Huawei's customers and consumers. This goes against the US government’s claim that it is motivated by network security.
“This decision by the US government does not just affect Huawei. It will have a serious impact on a wide number of global industries. In the long run, this will damage the trust and collaboration within the global semiconductor industry which many industries depend on, increasing conflict and loss within these industries.”