Uphill Struggles: Highlights From Huawei's Annual Report Presser On Trade War, 5G, COVID-19 Pandemic

© REUTERS / ALY SONGPeople wearing face masks are seen at a Huawei shop
People wearing face masks are seen at a Huawei shop - Sputnik International
A senior official from Huawei spoke to members of the press earlier this week on the state of the Chinese tech giant's status amid numerous global challenges, including the company's global 5G rollout.

Eric Xu, rotating chairman for Huawei, briefed members of the press on the company's progress amid challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic, US trade war on China and push to remain innovative in the global telecommunications industry.

The following are several highlights from the conference, provided in a transcript seen by Sputnik.

5G Roll Out Across Europe

Speaking on the coronavirus pandemic, which saw 850,000 new cases resulting in over 45,000 deaths globally at the time, Mr Xu said that the "longer this pandemic lasts, the longer the delay" in rolling out 5G.

The situation was under control domestically, he said, adding that China had accelerated its 5G deployment under the nation's three major carriers - China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom - set to complete "earlier this year".

"The number of additional 5G networks they deploy will depend on our supply, the speed of deployment, and their budgets. We will see if we can make up the time lost due to the pandemic," he said.

Huawei's 5G Equipment Sales Outside China

Despite media focus on Huawei's 5G rollout, sales were "just over $3bn USD, making a "small percentage of our carrier business revenue and therefore only a very small percentage of our company's total revenue", Mr Xu said.

5G had become a "heated global topic of discussion" and attacks form Washington had made "quite an impact" by creating "a lot of extra work for us", including spending a lot of time "explaining the situation to our customers, partners, and also government regulators", Huawei's rotating chairman said.

He told the press: "Never before in history have we seen a single technology so extensively discussed that everyone, regardless of their age group, has heard of it. This has actually saved our industry quite a lot of money in terms of the advertising that would have been needed to get consumers to accept 5G."

A few customers using Huawei in 2G, 3G and 4G networks chose not to use Huawei to build their respective 5G networks "for a variety of reasons", including Optus and VHA in Australia, TDC in Denmark and Telia in Norway, he said.

Business Outlook In 2020 Amid Pandemic, US Trade War on China

2020 would be "the most difficult year" as Huawei will be subject to Washington's Entity List, which it was placed on in May last year. Supply continuity measures will be tested due to rumours the Chinese tech giant could face component shortages.

The coronavirus pandemic would also bring "new challenges such as global economic decline, financial turmoil, and diminished market demand, which we didn't see coming", Mr Xu said.

People wearing face masks are seen at a Huawei shop - Sputnik International
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Speaking on the pandemic, Xu said: "Our current priority is to ensure the safety of our employees and respond to the needs of customers and governments as they fight the pandemic. At this point of time, it's difficult to forecast our performance in 2020 with any accuracy.

Technological Independence From Google Mobile Services Amid Trade War

Smartphones launched after the Entity List cannot feature Google Mobile Services, prompting the launch of Huawei Mobile Services and AppGallery, Xu explained to the press.

Xu said: "We'd like to see Google apps available on Huawei's AppGallery, just like they are available on Apple's App Store. By working together like that, we could deliver more varied and better apps to consumers. We want all of our 5G smartphone users outside China to be able to use Google's apps. We hope our 5G smartphone sales will grow in markets outside China. But right now, we can't make an accurate forecast. It depends on the development of the HMS ecosystem."

In a separate question, Mr Xu said that Huawei was "committed" to its Seamless AI Life strategy, called "1 + 8 + N", allowing its HMS ecosystem to facilitate sales in markets outside of China.

He said: "We certainly hope we can continue using [Google Mobile Services], but that decision is not up to us.

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