Huawei is considering exiting markets where it doesn't feel "welcome," its Chairman Liang Hua revealed at this week's World Economic Forum. The industry veteran refused to talk about any specifics plans, instead opting to reiterate the company's remarks on what it previously described as unfair treatment on the part of select Western governments, particularly the United States. The situation referenced by the executive has lately been at the center of a diplomatic scandal between Canada, China, and the U.S.
Moving way beyond smartphones
The comments were made shortly after Huawei officially surpassed Apple to become the world's largest handset manufacturer by shipments in the second half of 2018, according to numerous industry trackers. Some more optimistic estimates are even suggesting Huawei is now already prepared to challenge Samsung's market dominance directly, though less romanticized projections still put it way behind the South Korean tech giant, at least for the time being.
Huawei was never shy about its ambitions to launch its Android smartphones in the U.S. on a significant scale but continues being prevented to do so by indirect efforts on the part of the federal government. It came close with the Mate 20 series just over a year ago, having reached a preliminary distribution agreement for the device with aT&&T. However, regulatory pressure killed those hopes at the last minute, with AT&T dropping the idea last January, mere hours before it was meant to be announced at CES 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Huawei was subsequently dropped by its largest stateside distributor BestBuy after getting involved in a scandal that saw one of its officials solicit positive Mate 10 reviews from Facebook users who never even saw the final product, with the ordeal happening last spring. Today, the company's presence in the stateside consumer electronics segment is marginal at best.
Ultimately, Washington is much more concerned about the firm's 5G technologies than it is about conventional gadgets such as Android smartphones, having said as much on numerous occasions. Some industry watchers are presently even drawing attention to Huawei as part of a public feedback period the FCC organized with the intent of gauging opinions on T-Mobile and Sprint's proposed merger. U.S. regulators already outlawed the use of Huawei- and ZTE-made wireless equipment by federal agencies and recent reports suggest their ambitions could also be put to an end via an executive order the White House is now understood to be considering.
Whatever's next, it's not on this side of the pond
By most accounts, Huawei is not only not "welcome" but is actively being pushed out of the U.S. The American intelligence community is largely in agreement that the Shenzen-based company poses a national security risk due to its close ties to China's communist government, despite its incessant claims to the contrary. Ultimately, the issue isn't directly related to Huawei's cybersecurity track record but notion that Beijing could easily compel the firm to yield information on foreign customers or compromise them via other means, experts previously warned.
China continues to call for the release of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, with the DOJ still preparing an extradition request for the industry veteran Canada arrested on its behest on December 1. Stateside prosecutors have until next Wednesday, January 30, to formally submit the extradition application.