Huawei defends security record as annual sales top $100b

Huawei defends security record as annual sales top $100b
Guo Ping, Deputy chairman, Huawei. - AP

By Joe McDonald

Published: Fri 29 Mar 2019, 8:28 PM

Last updated: Fri 29 Mar 2019, 10:33 PM

Chinese tech giant Huawei's deputy chairman defended its commitment to security on 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, announced last year's sales surpassed $100 billion despite US pressure on American allies to shun it as a security threat.
Accusations that Huawei, China's first global tech brand, might facilitate Beijing's spying threaten to hamper its access to global carriers that are preparing to invest billions of dollars in next-generation technology.
Britain's National Cyber Security Centre added criticism on Thursday on a different front, accusing Huawei of "poor software engineering." The agency said in a report British researchers saw no sign that was due to Chinese government interference, but it said Huawei had not repaired flaws that might make its systems vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Guo didn't respond directly to the British report's criticisms but said Huawei will work with regulators to improve security. He noted the company has promised to invest $2 billion over five years to improve its software engineering and expressed confidence British regulators will "increase their confidence" in Huawei over time.
"We prioritise cybersecurity and privacy protection even above our commercial targets," Guo said at a news conference. He said the British report showed Huawei products had no "backdoors" to permit eavesdropping. 
Huawei's sales last year rose 19.5 per cent over 2017 to 721.2 billion yuan ($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).
Profit rose 25.1 per cent to 59.3 billion yuan ($8.6 billion). Guo blamed weak network gear sales on a temporary lull in investment by carriers. He expressed confidence 5G sales will take off this year.
Huawei denies US accusations it is controlled by China's ruling Communist Party and says it is owned by about half the members of its 180,000-strong workforce. The company has no publicly traded shares but started issuing annual financial reports a decade ago in an attempt to appear more open and mollify Western security concerns.
Guo said global sales for the first two months of 2019 rose by more than 30 per cent from a year earlier. Ren, the company founder, said earlier this year's revenue target is $125 billion.
Huawei has announced sales of 5G networks to a handful of carriers and contracts with major carriers in Germany and other countries for field testing. The company says it already has shipped more than 40,000 5G base stations to customers. - AP

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