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Huawei Investment & Holding Co. Ltd

Huawei is known for producing smartphones, laptops, and other technology, but how much is known about its ethics?

We’ve summarised the key ethical issues to consider when it comes to Chinese multinational Huawei.

How ethical is Huawei?

Our research highlights several ethical issues with Huawei, including its approach to climate change, pollution and toxics, habitats and resources, human rights, supply chain management, political activities, and tax conduct.

Below we outline some of these issues. To see the full detailed stories, and Huawei's overall ethical rating, please sign in or subscribe.

What is Huawei’s relationship with the Chinese government?

As Huawei is a Chinese company, it is subject to China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law which requires “all organisations and citizens” to “support, assist and cooperate with national intelligence efforts” – meaning Huawei is legally obliged to hand data over to the government if it asks for it.

Huawei says it has never been asked to hand over customer data to the government and would not do so even if required by law (but really it doesn’t seem like it would have an option). No definitive evidence of Huawei leaking data to the government has been found.

In 2019, former US president Trump prohibited Huawei from doing business with any organisation operating in the US. In 2020, the then UK prime minister Boris Johnson committed to removing all Huawei components from use in the core government network by 2023. Canada, New Zealand, and Australia have some bans on Huawei.

In 2021, Lithuania’s Defence Ministry said consumers should throw away Chinese phones, claiming one Xiaomi phone had built-in tools that could detect and censor terms such as “Free Tibet” or “democracy movement”.

However, given the context, some have questioned whether this is driven by xenophobia and “former President Trump’s propensities to see virtually any activity in China from Huawei’s 5G innovations to COVID-19 as nefarious threats aimed directly at the US, its allies and the entire world.” The US ban on Huawei also happened to coincide with an escalating trade dispute between China and the USA.


Huawei is a major developer of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, including facial recognition. In 2021, a Huawei patent emerged which discussed “a system that identifies people who appear to be of Uyghur origin among images of pedestrians”.

The software could send a “Uyghur alarm” to government authorities when its system identified members of the oppressed minority group, which could help facilitate the ongoing imprisonment of Uyghur people in forced labour camps.

The company has operations in several countries on Ethical Consumer’s list of Oppressive Regimes, including Pakistan, Egypt, Myanmar, Mexico, Russia and Turkey.

Huawei received our worst Supply Chain Management rating, and also lacked a stringent policy surrounding conflict minerals.


Huawei received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for Tax Conduct, due to having holding companies (a high risk company type for tax avoidance) in Hong Kong and The Netherlands, both of which are considered to be tax haven jurisdictions.

In March 2022 Huawei was also criticised by Reuters for tax avoidance practices, in an article titled "India accuses China's Huawei of tax evasion - government source". The article said "An Indian tax investigation into China's Huawei Technologies has found the telecoms equipment maker manipulated account books to reduce its taxable income in the country”.

Huawei fails to publish information about how much its top executives are paid. As a company with an annual revenue above £1bn, it got marked down half a mark for lacking transparency around directors’ pay.


Huawei received a worst rating in our Climate Change category because it has published very little information about what future actions it plans to take when it comes to reducing carbon emissions.

It received a worst rating for the Pollution & Toxics category because it hasn’t published any policies related to the use of harmful chemicals such as PVC, brominated flame retardants or phthalates in its products, all of which are common in the electronics sector.

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Logo of Huawei
  • Ethical Consumer Best Buy: No
  • Boycotts: No

Company information

Company Ethiscore

Company Address:

Building 1, Area B, Bantian Huawei Base, Longgang DistrictShenzhenGuangdong518129China

Associated brands

  • Huawei

Ownership structure

Ethical stories