Huawei says 2018 sales surged above $100bn despite US pressure

China’s Huawei Technologies Ltd, the biggest global maker of network equipment for phone and internet companies, reported its 2018 sales surged past $100bn despite US warnings to other governments that its telecom technology is a security risk.

“Moving forward, we will do everything we can to shake off outside distractions, improve management and make progress towards our strategic goals,” rotating chairman Guo Ping said on Friday.

Last year, global sales rose 19.5 percent over 2017 to 721.2 billion yuan ($105.2bn), according to Guo.

Huawei said its net profit grew 25 percent last year amid a global US campaign to blacklist the telecom giant over espionage fears. Net profit rose to 59.3 billion yuan ($8.8bn) last year, the company said in a statement.

However, the firm’s carrier business, which supplies telecom infrastructure to much of the world, slipped 1.3 percent during the year after a 2.5 percent expansion in 2017.

Huawei is the leading manufacturer of equipment for next-generation 5G mobile networks that will bring near-instantaneous connectivity for smartphones, but has encountered pushback in some Western markets over fears Beijing could gain access to critical infrastructure.

Market dominance 

The company is grappling with the December arrest of chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei.

Meng was arrested in Canada at Washington’s behest over charges that she and Huawei circumvented US sanctions against Iran.

Two Huawei affiliates have also been charged this year with stealing trade secrets from telecom group T-Mobile in a separate case.

Guo reiterated Huawei’s insistence that it poses no security risk while hinting that its market dominance left the company a crucial player in the global 5G rollout.

“We are confident that the companies that choose to work with Huawei will be the most competitive in the 5G era,” he said.

“Countries that choose to work with Huawei will gain an advantage for the next wave of growth in the digital economy.”

Al Jazeera’s Adrian Brown, reporting from Beijing, said: “Huawei has been making money with the sales of their tablet and smartphones. They’ve been doing particularly well in the developing world”.

“Consumers don’t have any qualms about using Huawei equipment, they don’t worry about that the Chinese government potentially using that equipment to spy on individuals and companies. Huawei denies all that.”

Huawei hit back earlier this month by filing a suit in the US to overturn a law that bars its government agencies from buying the company’s equipment, services, or working with third parties that are Huawei customers, crippling the company in the lucrative US market.

“The US government is sparing no effort to smear the company,” Guo said when announcing the suit.

Washington has long considered Huawei a potential threat due to the background of founder Ren, a former Chinese army engineer.

Those concerns have escalated as Huawei has risen to become the world leader in telecom networking equipment and one of the top smartphone manufacturers alongside Samsung and Apple.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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