Alphabet Inc’s Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday, in a blow to the Chinese technology company that the U.S. government has sought to blacklist around the world.

Holders of current Huawei smartphones with Google apps, however, will continue to be able to use and download app updates provided by Google, a Google spokesperson said, confirming earlier reporting by Reuters.

“We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications,” the Google spokesperson said.

“For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices,” the spokesperson said, without giving further

This is so much more than a dispute about tariffs.

China and the United States are competing for global dominance in technologies of the future: artificial intelligence, robotics and 5G high-speed mobile phone networks.

That has been on display this week at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, where the mood has been surprisingly upbeat despite the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.

Chinese President Xi Jinping wants Beijing to be a world leader in this sector, believing it will help move his country’s economy up the value chain and improve the lives of his people.

But US President Donald Trump sees it very differently. He says China wants global tech dominance and does not care how it is achieved.

Shen Hongyuan, a local Huawei manager, politely declined to answer questions about whether he felt the company’s business was now finished in the US. Again, like Yin from Honeywell, he wanted to stress the positive. “We hope we can cooperate with other countries,” he said.

In truth, the US has become far less important as a market for Huawei than other parts of the world – at least in terms of its smartphones.

“Huawei has not been able to crack the US market. And that’s where it gets interesting, because … still, every quarter Huawei is growing at a record rate. So it is still growing in China, and that is spectacular. And the next region it’s growing in is Europe, and Southeast Asia,” Shobhit Srivastava, an India-based analyst at Counterpoint Research, told Al Jazeera by phone.

But it’s the Middle East and Africa where sales of Huawei phones are growing the fastest, recording a 68 percent expansion in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period in 2018, according to Counterpoint.

The research firm says 17 percent of the world’s smartphones were made by Huawei in the first quarter, making it the second-biggest maker behind Samsung and one notch before Apple.

To China’s leadership, the US case against Huawei is connected, driven by bewilderment and jealousy that one company has come so far, so quickly.

But to the Trump administration, Huawei represents all that is wrong with China’s economy – a success story built on stolen technology.

But, make no mistake, this is serious for Huawei.

Of top concern will be its inclusion on the US Commerce Department’s “Entity List.” This means US firms that sell key components – like the chips used in Huawei phones – will have to apply for a license. That is going to make it very difficult for Huawei to do business with any US firm.

Analysts say they are digging in for the long haul.

“The US-China trade conflict shows no sign of de-escalating anytime soon, as the White House banned Huawei from selling equipment to the US market and required US companies to obtain licences in order to sell chips and technology to Huawei,” CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said in a research note.

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