Huawei expanding into Taiwan despite spying allegations

It has been announced that Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei is opening its first ever flagship store in Taiwan, in a move which appears to be an effort to expand further into the already Taiwanese telecoms market.

But Taiwanese users should be extremely wary of using devices manufactured by Huawei, which has a less than perfect track record of user privacy. Anyone who does have a Huawei device would be strongly advised to use a VPN with it at all times, although even this might not sufficient to guarantee your online security and privacy.

Huawei expands into Taiwan

The store, which will be located at the Syntrend Creative Park shopping center in Taipei is scheduled to open on April 21st. Huawei also has plans to open similar ‘experience’ stores in Taichung and Kaohsiung in the near future.

The aim of these stores is primarily the sale of hardware. This is known because while existing users of Huawei devices will be able to access consultation, maintenance, and other customer services in-store, this will only be available with an appointment. The reason given for this was that Huawei didn’t want existing customers interrupting potential new customers in the store.

Representatives from Huawei also confirmed that they had plans to open up to six specialist shops, Taiwan’s high-tech hub. They also hope to build three maintenance facilities in the Hsinchu area as well.

While the potential economic boosts of such investment seem good, Huawei has not made clear how many new local jobs will be created by their expansion into Taiwan.

Huawei’s share in the Taiwan telecoms market has been between 2% and 3% in recent times. But they seem determined to push this up, perhaps inspired by the success of fellow Chinese company Oppo which has already hit 6% of the Taiwanese market despite being relative newcomers.

Spying allegations in the USA

Taiwan, however, seems an odd choice for Huawei to have their sights on at the moment.  Ongoing hostilities between Taiwan and neighboring China continue to deteriorate and reports emanating from the USA about how Huawei devices have been used as a tool to spy on users make them a far from obvious choice for Taiwanese consumers.

Earlier this year, reports from both the US Senate and House Intelligence committees raised big concerns about how close Huawei is to the Chinese Communist regime. Indeed, they even went so far as to accuse the company of spying on behalf of the Communist Party.

According to the US Intelligence Committees, Huawei’s close working relationship with the Chines Communist Party raises significant “concerns regarding Huawei and Chinese espionage.”

When the Committee learned that Huawei was planning to expand into the US market this year, they contact all of the company’s retail partners in the US to inform them of their concerns. Now, Best Buy has become the final one of these partners to sever all ties with Huawei.

The decision means that because they are believed to use their devices to spy for the Chinese Communist party, Huawei is now effectively shut out of the US market, with no US carrier willing to stock their devices.

This could be the reason why Huawei is shifting focus to Taiwan, but the concerns raised in the US should carry just as much weight here too.

Use a VPN to make Huawei devices in Taiwan more secure

Tensions between Taiwan and China make the Taiwanese market an obvious place for Chinese surveillance to have an effect. It is remarkable that the Taiwanese Government would allow Huawei into Taiwan given what is known about them, but as they are here, it is the consumers themselves who have to be on guard.

Our strong advice would be to avoid Huawei devices altogether and instead opt for a Taiwanese manufacturer or a device from a country which is friendly to Taiwan.

If for some reason, you cannot do this, we strongly advise you to ensure that you are always using a VPN whenever you connect to the internet with your Huawei device. This will encrypt everything you do while online and offer you some degree of protection from Huawei’s spying.

It will not be perfect. With Huawei software already on your device, they may be able to access some online data before it even leaves your device. But a VPNs encryption will make this a lot harder and will keep some things safe.

For more information, take a look at our articles on the Best VPN for Taiwan 2018 and Best VPN for Huawei in Taiwan 2018.