It's clear that the recent unrest between the US and China has had an impact on Huawei. Having seen strong growth to become the number two smartphone manufacturer globally, the framing of Huawei as a security risk and adding the company to the Commerce Department Entity List saw many companies in the US unable to do business with the Chinese technology company. 

"We send and we sell to Huawei a tremendous amount of product that goes into the various things that they make, and I said that that's ok," said US President Donald Trump at the G20 Summit in Japan on 29 June.

That recent proclamation may have eased tensions slightly, but Huawei is being cautious, until it knows what that statement really means.

Sitting down with UK press, Huawei president of consumer business group Western Europe Walter Ji, wouldn't be drawn on what change this might bring and that it had nothing to add. "We welcome what happened at the weekend and we look forward to finding out more," a spokesperson for Huawei added.

It seems that Huawei is in the same position as the rest of us - not really knowing what Trump's comments ultimately mean in relation to the situation.

A commitment to innovation 

Huawei remains buoyed, however. There's no indication that the technology giant is going to slump defeated; instead, it continues to reinforce its core values and follow the same strategy.

"We believe that technology should be open and available to everybody," Ji told us, while confirming that the company's huge commitment to spending on research and development remained firm. "Innovation is the only way," he continued, saying that it was innovation strategy that had got Huawei to the number two position, pushing the envelope the camera, design and battery life, for example, a strategy Huawei remains committed to.

When challenged on whether that was true - that strategy hadn't changed - Ji stood firm. When asked if Huawei would discount devices to drive sales, Ji emphatically replied "no, you will not." If nothing else, Huawei paints a confident picture that business continues as usual.

Innovation also comes from Huawei's own hardware that its HiSilicon company develops. When ARM - whose technology lies at the core of many of these chips - said that it was complying with the US Commerce Department ban many thought that would strip HiSilicon of its ability to develop chips. But Ji said that HiSilicon has "permanent authorisation" to work with ARM so Kirin development continued.

We asked ARM for confirmation, but the only response we received was: "ARM is pleased to see the latest progress in discussions around Huawei. We are closely monitoring the situation and look forward to updated guidelines from the Commerce Department and how they apply to supplying our valued partner HiSilicon."

Nothing, it seems, is quite as clear as we'd want it to be. 

Updates, Android Q and Plan B 

Ji took the opportunity to provide some assurances to customers and as head of the consumer business in western Europe that's to be expected. "Our commitment to our customers is our duty," said Ji on one occasion "we always put our customers as first priority," he said on another.

Huawei's public relations machine has been moving to provide answers through this confusing time. It has set-up a website to provide assurances that devices will continue to be supported - warranties still stand, security updates will keep coming, as will app updates.

When challenged on the confirmation that Android Q updates would be delivered, Ji again stood firm, saying that those updates will arrive as planned. Trump's comments allowing US businesses to resume operations potentially means that Google and Huawei can return to business as usual, but there's still a feeling that the situation can change with the wind. 

Talk of a Plan B has been running ever since Google confirmed that it had to comply with the terms of the Entity List and Huawei has never denied that it has a backup plan. When asked about Plan B, Ji responded that Huawei "remains committed to Android ecosystem," but that there is a backup plan. 

When pushed on how quickly Huawei could launch its own system, Ji replied that there are "no predictions for that", because it's not going to be a situation that's needed. On one hand it appears as absolute confidence that the relationship with Android will continue - and the so-called Hongmeng platform will remain a plan B - and on the other hand, it's a neat swerve of the question, leaving us no closer to knowing whether Huawei will go its own way. 

A future with friends 

The idea of open collaboration underpins everything that Huawei has been trying to achieve and it's something that Walter Ji refers to frequently: "if you have more friends you benefit in the ecosystem," said Ji, suggesting that everyone benefits when they're working together and that collaboration remains key. 

Certainly, with a company the size of Huawei, those friendships are extremely valuable. "Companies will make their own choice," about whether they need to bring their apps to a Huawei-run app store, for example, but when looking at the global number two in smartphone shipments, that seems an easy choice to make. Both Google and ARM talk about Huawei as a valuable partner: certainly, in business terms, it seems Huawei still has some important friends. 

Ji also told us that the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G would be launched in the UK by the end of July. The Mate 20 X 5G typifies the commitment to innovation that Huawei talks of, using a modem of Huawei's own design - the Balong 5000 - one of the first modems to support all forms of 5G on one chip - something that other handsets won't be able to offer until next year. 

There's no doubting that Huawei has some of the best smartphone on the market and that in recent years it has been hugely important in the development of the smartphone industry. But there's still disquiet from some areas in the US, with concerns about security in 5G networks flowing over into Huawei's consumer handset business.

Above all, there's still a feeling that Huawei is a company that's being pulled around by politics, the victim of the wider trade war. Ultimately, as Huawei eyes its next big smartphone launch - the Huawei Mate 30 in October - there's still a feeling that there's a lot more of this story to play out.

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