A number of governments have put Huawei under watch, fearing its technology could be used by Chinese spies but also because Huawei was able to build its presence in global tech sector by piggybacking on China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR, or Belt and Road Initiative or BRI) in recent years.
Last October, Huawei Marine, a joint venture between Huawei and the UK-based submarine communications firm Global Marine Systems, announced its Peace Cable project, a 12,000 km (7,456 miles) long underwater high-speed internet cable system linking Pakistan, South Africa, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, Egypt, and France, persons familiar with Huawei’s links with BRI.
2015, China made clear how important these technologies are to its interests — the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Commerce, jointly issued a directive detailing goals and actions for OBOR. Two key objectives were the “construction of transnational fibre optics for communications” and “synchronising technological standards between China and other countries”. Huawei is at the forefront of implementing these goals under BRI or OBOR.
Participating in BRI, Huawei, which relied on concessional loans and business loans for overseas expansion, would be able to receive funding from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the state-owned Silk Road Investment Fund. The fund was designed to foster investment in countries under BRI. Beijing pledged $40 billion when it was established in December 2014.
Huawei has continually made clear its intentions to capitalise on the Chinese regime’s flagship project. While speaking at the annual World Internet Conference in China in December 2015, a senior Huawei official announced Huawei would embark on its own “One Belt, One Road” initiative: a plan to reach out to untapped markets around the world.
BRI involves China’s version of smart city. In 2015, China’s State Information Centre published a research paper detailing how construction of smart cities could help BRI.