Huawei says 2018 sales top $100B despite US pressure

SHENZHEN, China (AP) — Chinese tech giant Huawei's deputy chairman defended its commitment to security Friday after a stinging British government report added to Western pressure on the company by accusing it of failing to repair dangerous flaws in its telecom technology.

Guo Ping's comments came as Huawei Technologies Ltd., the biggest global maker of network equipment for phone and internet companies, reported its 2018 sales surged past $100 billion despite U.S. pressure on American allies to shun it as a security threat.

Accusations that Huawei might facilitate Chinese spying threaten to hamper its access to global markets as carriers prepare to invest billions of dollars in next-generation technology.

Thursday's report by Britain's National Cyber Security Center accused Huawei of "poor software engineering," but said it saw no indication that was due to Chinese government interference. It said Huawei failed to repair flaws that might make its systems vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Guo said Huawei was ready to work with foreign regulators to improve security. He noted the company has promised to invest $2 billion over five years to improve its software engineering.

"We prioritize cybersecurity and privacy protection even above our commercial targets," said Guo at a news conference.

Huawei's U.S. market evaporated after a 2012 congressional report labeled the company a security threat, but its business elsewhere has grown rapidly. Huawei passed Apple last year as the No. 2 global smartphone brand behind Samsung and earlier passed Sweden's LM Ericsson as the No. 1 network equipment seller.

Last year, global sales rose 19.5 percent over 2017 to 721.2 billion ($105.2 billion), according to Guo. That was driven by double-digit gains for its consumer and enterprise units, while sales of network gear to phone and internet carriers were unchanged at 294 billion yuan ($62.3 billion).

Guo blamed weak network gear sales on a temporary lull in investment by phone carriers. He expressed confidence shipments of fifth-generation, or 5G, technology will take off this year.

Huawei has announced sales of 5G networks to a handful of foreign mobile phone companies and has contracts with major carriers in Britain, South Korea, Germany and other countries for field testing.

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