Huawei, under US pressure, plans supply base in Europe

Jürgen HECKER
Huawei chairman Liang Hua 'would turn down' any request to spy for Chinese intelligence (AFP Photo/JOEL SAGET)

Under pressure from US trade restrictions, Huawei plans to open a components plant in Europe, the telecom giant’s chairman told AFP, while insisting it is not in league with Chinese intelligence.

Liang Hua said in an interview that Huawei no longer needed US companies to supply it with crucial components for 5G technology, after President Donald Trump ordered American firms to cease doing business with it.

Here are excerpts from the interview, conducted at AFP's headquarters in Paris.

- How are you dealing with a US ban on companies supplying Huawei with 5G components? -

"In the area of 5G technology, we are already no longer dependent on the supply of chips and other components from American companies.

"But if the US government were to allow suppliers to deliver to us again, we would be ready to re-establish our cooperation with them.

"We are planning to manufacture our own components at a production site in Europe in the future.

"We are conducting a feasibility study to open a factory in Europe for this. The choice of country will depend on that study.

"We don't yet have an exact idea about the timetable for such a decision, but it could happen very quickly."

- Can you guarantee that Chinese intelligence will not use Huawei to spy on other countries? -

"In the past 30 years we have never been the object of such a request. Even if one was made in the future, we would turn down such a request."

- Can Huawei handsets remain competitive without Google and Android? -

"The future still looks bright for our handsets. We are forecasting a shipping volume of around 245 to 250 million units for this year.

"For the export market, we are banned today from using GMS (Google Mobile Services) and its dedicated apps, and we are therefore working on developing HMS (Huawei Mobile Services) and the apps that go with it.

"We are confident that HMS and its application eco-system will continue to grow."

- Will a US-China trade deal help Huawei in the American market? -

"This Chinese-American confrontation, this trade war, actually has a very limited impact on Huawei’s business, given that we already had only little activity in the American market. We are more concerned about the US government’s ban on American companies selling us chips and software than about the trade war.

"This is why we are working on ensuring our survival in this context, by which I mean Huawei’s survival in the whole world, beyond the American market where we didn’t have a big presence anyway."

- Will the digital world become split, with one half dominated by the US and the other by China? -

"People in China will continue to use products by Apple and other tech brands. Don’t forget that there are 1.4 billion tech users in China. Even in the US, I’m certain that consumers will continue to use different systems. I am sure that the digital world of tomorrow will not be a world divided into two separate camps."

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