Huawei: We're still leading the world on 5G, despite political attacks

Huawei is firing back against the US-led campaign to push it out of major markets, insisting it's still on t...

Posted: Dec 18, 2018 1:03 PM
Updated: Dec 18, 2018 1:03 PM

Huawei is firing back against the US-led campaign to push it out of major markets, insisting it's still on track to lead the world in the introduction of 5G technology.

"Despite efforts in markets creating fear about Huawei, using politics to interfere with growth, customers continue to trust us and continue to work with us and build networks with our technologies," Deputy Chairman Ken Hu told reporters in the Chinese city of Dongguan on Tuesday.

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Hu was speaking during a turbulent period for the Chinese company, one of the world's biggest makers of smartphones and telecommunications equipment. Its chief financial officer is under arrest in Canada, facing possible extradition to the United States, and its products are coming under increasing scrutiny from businesses and governments over security concerns.

Despite decisions this year by Australia and New Zealand to block wireless operators from using Huawei to build their 5G networks, Hu expressed confidence that the company's technology is "significantly more advanced" than that of its rivals, giving it a head start of 12 to 18 months and the ability to attract new customers.

"It's like a running race," he said during a rare media briefing on one of the company's campuses in southern China. "We are leading." The company is on track to hit its target of more than $100 billion in revenue this year, he confirmed, up from around $92 billion in 2017.

Even the arrest in Canada of CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei's founder, on allegations she helped the company dodge US sanctions on Iran hasn't shaken its resolve. Business operations remain normal and senior executives are sticking to their international travel plans, according to Hu.

"I was on the plane just yesterday," he said.

He declined to comment on Meng's case, but expressed confidence in Huawei's trade compliance system and in "the judicial independence and fairness" of the Canadian and US legal systems. "We look forward to a just conclusion," he added.

'Irresponsible decisions'

Hu just arrived back in China from Europe, one of the regions where the company has faced renewed questions over the security of its products.

Orange (ORAN), the largest telecoms operator in France, on Friday ruled out using Huawei equipment in its core 5G network in the country. Germany's Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY) said it was taking the discussion about the security of network elements from Chinese manufacturers "very seriously."

Hu said he understands the concerns from customers and authorities, but insisted there is no example of Huawei equipment "posing security threats" in the past 30 years.

The company has risen rapidly in recent decades to become the world's biggest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment. Its competitors include Sweden's Ericsson (ERIC), Finland's Nokia (NOK) and another Chinese firm, ZTE (ZTCOF), which fell foul of US authorities earlier this year.

The US government has long been wary of Huawei and has stepped up efforts this year to limit the use of its products in the United States. American officials have alleged that the Chinese government could use Huawei products for espionage — claims the company denies.

The US government has even been urging its allies to stop using Huawei equipment, according to a report last month by The Wall Street Journal.

Hu said that governments sometimes have concerns about which companies should supply 5G networks because of "legitimate" concerns about technology, which Huawei is working to address through communication and investing billions in security-related software.

But he slammed the "irresponsible decisions" by some countries that he said rely on "baseless speculations" to target a specific company out of "ideological and geopolitical considerations."

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