Losses & profits. There is the storefront of the Paris store and then the less shiny Xinjiang backyard. Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei unveiled its flagship store in Paris’s Opera district on Thursday, March 5. A Mecca of Parisian glamor, already chosen by Apple and Orange, with which the smartphone manufacturer wants to associate its image. The image ? Three days earlier, the Australian Institute for Political Strategy (ASPI) published a report revealing that between 2017 and 2019, Beijing had deported at least 80,000 prisoners of the Uighur Muslim minority from their Xinjiang province to other regions for work in around thirty factories supplying eighty-three major global brands in technology (including Huawei), clothing and automotive.
“Factories use forced Uyghur labor as part of a state-controlled transfer mechanism”, denounces the document. The group was not alone accused. To stay in the “tech”, the Chinese OPPO, Apple, Sony, Samsung, Microsoft and Nokia, are singled out, violating their code of conduct prohibiting the use of forced labor. “They usually live in separate dormitories, take classes in Mandarin and ideology outside working hours. They are under constant surveillance and are not allowed to observe their religious practices ”, insists the Australian think tank.
First factory outside China in France
The Shenzen firm counterattacked claiming to require its suppliers to “Comply with international labor standards ” But it would take more than these accusations to curb the global ambition of the king of 5G networks and viceroy of the smartphone alongside the South Korean Samsung, who is also regularly accused of serving the interests of the Chinese state and threatening the security of the countries it equips with 5G networks. He is already resisting the attacks of Donald Trump, who threatens to retaliate the countries using his technology. And bypasses the American embargo that deprives laptops of Google and Facebook applications, by developing its own “apps” and high-end devices at competitive prices.
The boss of Huawei Europe, Walter Ji, reaffirmed this offensive and long-term strategy on Thursday, announcing the upcoming arrival of new consumer products (televisions …) designed with high-end partners such as Leica in optics or Devialet in sound. Even in the face of “Restrictions” announced by the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, to protect security and “Our interests of sovereignty” (military installations, nuclear power plants, etc.), Huawei has not given up on building its first factory in France outside of China, “because itIt is part of our strategy ”, underline its leaders.