Can Huawei thrive despite American sanctions?

Ren Zhengfei, its boss, has big plans

Huawei is a case study in how effective American sanctions really are, how Chinese firms can adapt to the new world order. PHOTO: REUTERS
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Huawei once looked unstoppable. Having begun in 1987 selling phone switches from a flat in the southern city of Shenzhen, in 2012 the Chinese technology company overtook Ericsson, a Swedish rival, to become the world’s biggest maker of telecommunications gear. By 2020 its market share in the business exceeded 30 per cent, roughly as much as Ericsson and Nokia of Finland, its two main competitors, combined. The same year, it surpassed Samsung as the largest maker of smartphones. Its fast-growing software and cloud-computing businesses were beginning to compete with America’s IBM and Oracle.

The American government had other plans. Successive administrations have regarded Huawei as a national-security risk, claiming that it had deep links with the People’s Liberation Army and that its gear could be used for spying (allegations that have not been proven and that Huawei denies).

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