A market without Huawei is 'like an NBA game without star players', chairman says

Company facing increasing bans from Western countries over perceived security issues

A sign that reads "5G park" is seen inside the Huawei global headquarters in Shenzhen in China���s southern Guangdong province on December 18, 2018.   / AFP / Nicolas ASFOURI
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Huawei, which is facing mounting global pressure over accusations that its equipment is not secure and facilitates espionage, will continue its 5G network development despite its technology being banned by some Western nations, its chairman assured employees on Tuesday.

“For 5G markets that choose to not work with Huawei – they will be like an NBA game without star players,” said company’s rotating chairman Guo Ping, in his New Year letter sent to nearly 180,000 employees globally.

“The game will go on, but with less deftness, flair and expertise,” he added.

UK telecoms firm BT is the latest firm barring Huawei 5G equipment from its core network. Australia and New Zealand also announced last year that they would not allow Huawei to be involved in building the next generation 5G systems in their countries.

Local Japanese media has also reported that the country’s top three carriers - NTT Docomo, SoftBank Group and KDDI - will ban telecommunications equipment by Huawei. US media reports have suggested Washington is urging its allies to avoid Chinese technology networks amid fears they could be used for spying.

Despite global tension, Huawei is rolling up its sleeves to pursue its 5G network ambitions and aims to remain the market leader for at least the next year.

Huawei chairman Liang Hua told media last week that the firm’s operations remain ‘normal’ even as it faces a ‘complicated’ environment.

“We believe that customers will make their own decisions,” said Mr Liang, adding that Huawei is planning to release its first 5G-enabled smartphone in the first half of 2019, and will achieve commercial scale of those phones by the second half.

In 2018, Shenzhen-headquartered Huawei signed 26 commercial contracts for 5G with global carriers and shipped more than 10,000 5G base stations that enable the network to markets around the world.

Anticipating more headwinds in 2019, Mr Guo said that business performance remains strong - the best response to ‘negative’ conjecture and market ‘restrictions’.

“We may very well encounter even greater difficulties. In times like this, we must improve the quality of our operations and continue forging ahead to satisfy customer needs and achieve strategic leadership.”

Huawei’s 2018 sales revenue is expected to reach $108.5 billion, up 21 per cent year-on-year.


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Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained on December 1 by Canada at the request of the US for allegedly conspiring to defraud American banks and violating sanctions related to doing business in Iran. She is currently out on bail and must stay in Vancouver, awaiting a possible extradition to the US, where if convicted, she faces 30 years in jail.

Mr Guo has exhorted to not be discouraged by ‘malicious’ incidents or temporary ‘setbacks’.

“We must remain determined to achieve global leadership. Setbacks will only make us more courageous, and incredibly unfair treatment will drive us to become the world's number one.”