Chinese telecom giant Huawei unveiled its own operating system on Friday, as it faces the threat of losing access to Google’s Android platform amid escalating US-China trade tensions.

The highly anticipated operating system is considered crucial for the tech titan’s survival as it confronts a looming White House ban on US companies selling technology products to Huawei which could remove its access to Android.

Huawei launches own operating system to rival Android 1

Richard Yu, the head of Huawei’s consumer business, revealed HarmonyOS — HongMeng in Chinese — at a press conference in the southern city of Dongguan.

He said the first version would launch later this year in its smart screen products, before expanding across a range of smart devices including wearable technology over the next three years.

“If you’re asking when will we apply this to the smartphone, we can do it at any time,” said Yu, adding that they gave priority to using Android.

“However, if we cannot use Android in the future, we can immediately switch to the HarmonyOS.”

But Yu said Huawei had no plan to “launch a smartphone with HarmonyOS” while noting “our backup plan is always ready”.

Yu said HarmonyOS was “future-oriented” and designed to be “more smooth and secure”, which he said was “completely different” from Android and Apple’s operating system.

The company has been swept into the deepening trade war between Beijing and Washington which has seen punitive tariffs slapped on billions of dollars of two-way trade.

Huawei — considered the world leader in superfast fifth-generation or 5G equipment and the world’s number two smartphone producer — has been blacklisted by US President Donald Trump amid suspicions it provides a backdoor for Chinese intelligence services, which the firm denies.

As a result, American companies are theoretically no longer allowed to sell technology products to the firm, but a three-month exemption period — which ends next week — was granted by Washington before the measure came into force.

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