Asian Insider May 17: Huawei to fight back; ISIS ‘wolf-pack’ linked suspects arrested in Malaysia

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents.


Huawei, it seems, has been preparing for harsh US measures. Chinese media report that the head of Huawei's chip unit had drawn up contingency plans and stockpiled some key parts, to minimise disruption. Mr He Tingbo, President of the unit, HiSilicon, said as much in a letter to staff. In this, he says that he foresaw years ago that the U.S. government might "suppress" the company and shares some insights into what it plans to do. Huawei has confirmed the letter. But, it is not clear, how effective the company's preparations will be, to negate the damage due to the ban.

What about impact on 5G? The move by the US is certain to have an impact on the rollout of 5G services around the world. Huawei is not only the world's largest telecoms equipment maker that sources products from US companies, it is also a major smartphone supplier and a leader in 5G technology. And it has signed contracts in places across Europe and the Middle East. Two advantages that Huawei had over competitors, our Tech Editor Irene Tham wrote in an earlier piece, was that it not only sells equipment said to be up to 30 per cent cheaper, but also had widespread "lock-in" to its technology, for cheap and quick migration to 5G, saving time and costs for users. Now the future of much of this is uncertain.

Want a quick read of Huawei's R&D hub? Click here.

Meanwhile, China's state media report that Beijing is not interested in trade talks with Washington for the moment.

What if China does yield? While we're debating US demands and China's actions, ST Associate Editor Ravi Velloor brings up a different possibility and argues it would be wise to be careful about what you wish for.

Further reading:

In contest with China, the US risks isolation with 5G choice

A US-China trade deal doesn't matter anymore

Britain's merit-based approach to Huawei carries risks

Huawei is being held to an impossible standard

The new Cold Warriors

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Malaysia has found more suspects linked to the 'wolf pack' cell in the country. Members of the cell had been close to executing their plans to target four VIPs and non-Muslim houses of worship in the Klang Valley when the cell was busted.

The big worry: Is the threat of terrorism making a comeback? Two of the suspects had travelled to Indonesia last year for combat training conducted by terror group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah Indonesia, in Yogyakarta last year. They had acquired training to make car-bombs, capable of ensuring significant damage. And they had surveyed a few churches in Jogjakarta to assess if these could be potential targets. The arrests follow those of four other suspects, including two Rohingyas, earlier this month.


One of the many countries being watched in the region for how they navigate their relationship with the United States and China, is the Philippines, with President Rodrigo Duterte's words and actions raising concern many a time, within the country and outside. The recent midterm polls were to be a barometer of where he stands. And results have been much in his favour. Now, our Philippines Correspondent Raul Dancel hints that his daughter could well be his successor in 2022.

Further reading:

Duterte's candidates sweep midterm elections

Are we a 'province of China'?


When you are located next to one of the world's busiest waterways, you can't take it easy. Singapore moved to take one more step to boost security - this time maritime cyber security - as it launched its new Maritime Cybersecurity Operations Centre on Thursday, to deal with evolving threats. The centre will strengthen maritime security through early detection, monitoring, analysis and response to potential cyber attacks. Singapore added digital defence to the country's Total Defence Framework, earlier this year.

What passes through Straits of Malacca? A research paper by Nippon Foundation says almost half of the global seaborne trade and roughly one third of the world's crude oil passes through these waters, making it one of the most important shipping lanes in the world.


Meat substitution is attracting much attention among potential investors, even though some of these companies do not do anything close to vegan burgers. Stocks are surging in some of these firms. And analysts are worried.

Other developments

Australia goes to the polls this weekend and pre-poll surveys are hinting at a defeat for the ruling government. Stay connected with us on, for the latest reports.

Taiwan's parliament legalised same-sex marriage on Friday in a first for Asia and a major victory for the island's LGBT community. The change allows same-sex couples to form "exclusive permanent unions" and apply for "marriage registration" with government agencies.

And one of the world's newest nations, Timor-Leste, is set to become the world's first plastic-neutral nation.

Thanks for reading . We have a long weekend coming up with Monday, a public holiday for Vesak Day, which is celebrated by Buddhists around the world. We'll see you on Tuesday. Should you want more news from Singapore and Asia in the meantime, do read us here.


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