Forking and building off Android is what I would call the natural response for Huawei’s situation. And pretty much as long as you respect the open source license agreements and such, nothing is wrong with that. The ability to do so is one of the best aspects of Android; the going it without the Google add ons one of the reasons fewer people do that with actual phones.
Ron kind of says it neat here:
Forking Android and launching your own rebranded operating system is totally fine. But be upfront about that. Say "HarmonyOS is a fork of Android" instead of "HarmonyOS is not a copy of Android." Don't call HarmonyOS "all-new" when pretty much the opposite is true.
Where the real ire of the story lay, and perhaps justly so. But the conclusion towards the end of the article also makes sense. Inside China the Google’less Android idea works, as an international product not so much.