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Huawei: We're not leaving US market

Chinese networking gear maker has backtracked on its previous declaration to abandon the U.S. over spying allegations, insisting it is still engaging partners and customers and seeing growth in the market.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor on

Huawei Technologies has apparently backtracked on its previous declaration to abandon the U.S. market, insisting it is still engaging partners and customers and "not leaving" the country. 

Its COO for enterprise in the U.S., Jane Li, said the Chinese networking equipment maker was still engaging partners and customers in the market about its products and response had been "extremely positive". In an interview with Bloomberg TV, she said businesses seek out suppliers such as Huawei that offer a broad product portfolio that includes networking, compute, and storage, as well as have strong financial background. 

"We are not leaving U.S., on the contrary, we are growing our business in the U.S.," Li said, suggesting that previous comments made by Huawei's senior executives including CEO and founder, Ren Zhengfei, about the company's departure from the market might be overstated. 

Furious over the U.S. government's allegations it was helping the Chinese government spy on the country, Huawei last year described the U.S. market as a "commercial disappointment". It also declared it was no longer interested in the U.S and was shifting its focus on expanding in Europe

According to Li, the knee-jerk response might have been the spillover result of tensions between governments from two of the world's biggest economies.  

"When you're caught in the crossfire between two large world economic powers, it's hard not to get sentimental about it. But the truth is, this is one of the greatest markets in the world for IT and we like it here," she noted.

Revelations from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden also helped flip the issue around, putting the U.S. government under scrutiny for its own spying activities. For the Huawei executive, it underscores the need for all sides to reexamine bilateral relationships.

"The Snowden effect gives everybody perspective that we need to separate politics from business. Governments need to do what they need to do, and that's the situation for both U.S. and China, and others," Li said, adding that the company will continue to make its products available in the U.S. market.  

The Chinese vendor was at the CES exhibition in Las Vegas last week, where it launched the Ascend Mate 2 4G phablet.

On its competition, including Cisco Systems

Huawei is still trailing market leader Cisco Systems, but clocks bigger growth in the U.S. market than the American networking vendor. Asked if its price-cutting strategy had helped the Chinese vendor gain ground against Cisco, Li told Bloomberg it does not compete on price points, but on providing the technology businesses today want to operate in a cloud environment.

"The best competition is [about] who can win the cloud computing race. There's huge growth in cloud computing and big data, [but] traditional IT equipment are designed for on-premise data centers," she noted. "So we need to have a large R&D (research and development) platform to reinvent those equipment to adapt to the cloud infrastructure." 

She added that Huawei spends over 14 percent of its US$40 billion revenue on R&D. 

Earlier this week, the Chinese vendor hit out at the U.K. government's banon its videoconferencing equipment, dismissing concerns over its links to the Chinese government as "misleading" and based on "inaccurate" information. The U.K. government departments including the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, and Crown Prosecution Service were reportedly instructed to stop using the systems during internal meetings amid concerns they could be embedded with tapping devices. 

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