It doesn’t sound to me like Huawei is backing out of the U.S. market, although that’s what you’d believe if you took CEO Ren Zhengfei’s words literally.
A report last week does quote him saying Huawei doesn’t want to get in the way of U.S.-China relations. But as CNet pointed out Monday evening, there’s no clear indication of whether Ren’s words were a real proclamation of strategy.
Huawei’s U.S. spokeswoman didn’t directly deny that Huawei is giving up on the United States (the company still markets enterprise gear and cellphones here). But the prepared statement she forwarded on Monday seems to confirm that Huawei is sticking around: “We remain committed to our customers, employees, investments and operations and more than $1 billion in sales in the U.S., and we stand ready to deliver additional competition and innovative solutions as desired by customers and allowed by authorities.”
Huawei did back out of the U.S. telecom market earlier this year, and there’s been a looseness of language associated with that. I’m not talking about mistranslations or difficulty with English; I mean the verbal (and nearly universal) shorthand of saying Huawei “exited” rather than “exited U.S. carrier markets.” I’ve seen it cause confusion in conversations, and some element of that might have happened here.
Of course, it’s possible that Ren means it. After all, Huawei’s departure from U.S. telecom was “announced” with a verbal comment at the company’s analyst conference, rather than in any kind of document. Maybe it’s just that the big, slow mechanics of dismantling the U.S. operation haven’t been set into motion yet.
Giving up on the United States altogether would be understandable given that the government officially distrusts the company. But at least for now, it sounds like the U.S. still has Huawei to kick around.
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