SHANGHAI – Chinese tech giant Huawei said Tuesday it would have become the world's number one smartphone maker by year's end if it were not for "unexpected" circumstances — a hint that pressure from the U.S. may be hurting its sales.
"If we had not encountered anything unexpected, we would have become number one in the world by the fourth quarter," Huawei's chief strategist, Shao Yang, said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Shanghai.
"But now we have to wait a little bit longer to achieve that," he said, without referring directly to President Donald Trump or the trade war.
Washington last month put Huawei on a blacklist that effectively bars U.S. firms from selling to the company without government approval. The action was part of a broader trade dispute between China and the U.S., which has accused Chinese technology companies such as Huawei of stealing trade secrets and threatening cybersecurity.
While Huawei has denied it would share user secrets with China's ruling Communist Party, Trump is on a mission to persuade U.S. allies to exclude Huawei equipment from next-generation 5G mobile networks.
Shao said the company will march on in its development of the technology.
"People see 5G, but we see beyond that," he said. "Those who are not brave will not progress, they will lag behind. So everything that we do is to define our direction in the new round of competition."