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Huawei’s Decline Shows Why China Will Struggle to Dominate

Two years ago the telecom giant was set to control global 5G, but now its goal is survival. Beijing’s belligerence is to blame.



Photographer: Stefan Wermuth/AFP/Getty Images

One of the biggest geopolitical developments of the last two years has been the quiet decline of Huawei Technologies Co. In 2019, the Chinese telecommunications behemoth was racing toward dominance of the world’s 5G networks. It was a symbol of Beijing’s apparent rise to technological primacy. Today, however, Huawei isn’t thinking about supremacy: “Our aim is to survive,” its chairman has announced.

Since 2020, Huawei has been caught in the global blowback against Chinese belligerence. It has been pummeled by a U.S. diplomatic and sanctions campaign. Barring an unexpected rescue, its prospects will worsen next year, when Huawei exhausts its limited supply of state-of-the-art semiconductors — the vital components for modern electronics. For years, many experts believe, Huawei has been tightly linked to the Chinese Communist Party. Now, it is becoming a casualty of America’s intensifying technological conflict with Beijing.