Filmed by Kiran Stacey. Edited by Donell Newkirk. Photos courtesy of Reuters and Getty Images.
Since Donald Trump announced he was going to take further action against the Chinese company Huawei a few weeks ago, both by taking steps to ban them from the US 5G networks and by stopping them importing American equipment, a lot of US tech companies have been asking themselves what might come next? I've been talking to executives at big and small US tech companies, and one thing they say they are all doing is going through their supply chains and trying to figure out what might happen if one of their key suppliers was next under the Trump microscope. What would happen to Apple, for example, if Foxconn was sanctioned, or another of its major Chinese manufacturers? What would happen to Dell if one of its big Chinese chip manufacturers fell under scrutiny?
I've been talking to George Mathew, chief executive of a US drone company called Kespry. Kespry used to make its own drones, but has been gradually shifting production over to DJI, the Chinese company which makes most of the world's drones. Kespry instead wants to focus on software, but Matthew told me that if the Trump administration decides to sanction DJI, as has been widely rumoured, he might have to keep his company's manufacturing plant open a lot longer than planned. That will be a major change to his business plans.
We don't know for sure whether the Trump administration will decide to target further Chinese companies as part of the ongoing trade war, but to an extent, it doesn't matter. Simply by keeping the threat on the table, US officials have ensured that American companies are already pulling away from their Chinese counterparts.