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Huawei crackdown

Huawei shuts down US solar energy business

Chinese company's move comes as it faces intense scrutiny from Washington

WASHINGTON (Financial Times) -- Huawei Technology has closed down its fast-growing but controversial solar energy business in the US, the Chinese company has confirmed, as it continues to battle criticism from both the Trump administration and politicians in Congress.

A spokesperson for the company said on Tuesday it had shut its US operation selling solar inverters, which help move electricity from solar panels on to the grid. It had been growing quickly until running into opposition from members of Congress.

Members of both parties had warned that using Huawei equipment in the US solar grid could enable China to interfere with or even cut off American electricity supplies, since the gear are able to communicate with outside parties about the electricity passing through them.

Huawei is already facing the prospect of being banned both from selling its telecoms equipment to US carriers and from buying supplies from American manufacturers. With its core telecoms business under threat, the company has decided to close down its smaller US solar operation, despite denying that its products are more vulnerable than those of its rivals.

A company spokesperson told the Financial Times: "Over the past several months, we have been compelled to make moves to more closely align our business strategy with the unwelcoming climate being fostered in the United States.

"After careful review of our operations in the United States, we have made the tough decision to eliminate several positions within our US representative office."

The person added that all warranty and customer service programs would continue to operate.

Huawei has been under pressure in the US for months, with security officials warning that its telecoms equipment could be used by the Chinese government to spy on US citizens if used in super-fast 5G mobile networks.

Last month Donald Trump, the US president, announced he would lay the groundwork for the company to banned outright from American 5G networks, while the commerce department has announced a ban on US companies exporting to Huawei.

Some US companies have protested the move, warning that it could have knock-on effects for their own businesses. Google, for example, has told the Trump administration that Huawei phones in the US would become less secure if Google is not allowed to continue to update its Android operating system on them.

FedEx, the delivery company, is suing the US government, saying it should not be held liable if it accidentally violated the export ban when shipping products to China.

Members of Congress had been pushing for a ban on Huawei's solar equipment, which make up about 4 per cent of the US market, but more than 20 per cent of sales worldwide.

Earlier this year 11 senators wrote to Rick Perry, the energy secretary, calling on him to restrict Huawei's solar sales, warning that they posed a "national security threat".

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