Huawei boss says US ban 'not very important'

  • 16 October 2014
  • From the section Business
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Media caption"It's very important for us to establish a trusted global brand," says Huawei's chief executive, Guo Ping

The boss of the world's largest telecommunications company, Huawei, says that he is confident of realising the group's global ambitions even without the US market.

The Chinese firm is banned from bidding for US government contracts because of concerns over espionage.

In its first broadcast interview, chief executive Guo Ping told the BBC the US ban was "not very important".

"If they're not ready, we can wait," he said.

Huawei is run by three rotating chief executives, who serve as the boss for six months at a time. Mr Guo is the current chief.

US suspicions

In the first half of the year, revenues have reached nearly $20bn (£12.5bn), so the company is on track to beat or match last year's total of $39.4bn.

More than 65% of its income is from businesses outside of China, and they operate in more than 150 countries.

But they have challenges operating in the US. Huawei and other Chinese tech companies such as ZTE have been banned from bidding for US government contracts, because of suspicions that they undertake industrial espionage for China.

Huawei's founder, Ren Zhengfei, had served in the Chinese army before he started the company in 1987 and that stint is one of the reasons why US lawmakers believe that the company still has links to the state. Other countries such as Australia have also raised concerns.

Huawei has denied all of these allegations.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Huawei is also now the world's third-biggest smartphone producer

Mr Guo told me he was confident that the suspicions in the world's biggest market would not dent the company's global ambitions. He pointed to the fact that Huawei achieved growth of 19% in the first half of this year, without the US, and believes that it can maintain that trend.

He added that the company would happily serve the US market in the future, if permitted to. "If the United States needs our products someday, we are more than happy to have the chance to serve them. If they're not ready, we can wait," he said.

When I asked if the ban was unfair, he replied: "I do not have that feeling. People around the world can enjoy Huawei's products and services. If one country can't, I feel it may be a bit unfair for their consumers. But for Huawei, it's not very important."

Taking on the phone giants

In 2012, Huawei overtook Ericsson to become the world's largest telecommunications equipment firm. It supplies the networks for companies such as BT, as well as the USB dongles that power mobile internet access for Vodafone, among others.

In the past five years, it has also quickly become the third-biggest mobile handset producer, behind only market leaders Samsung and Apple, and it seeks to improve its position.

With the launch of its latest "phablet", a combination phone and tablet, the firm is looking to become a global brand.

Mr Guo says that he wants not only industry insiders to know of the company, but also the world's entire population of seven billion.

Last week, Huawei became the first Chinese name to make it on to Interbrand's list of the 100 best global brands.

Ranked 94th, Huawei's sights are set on Apple, which remains the world's top brand.

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