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Huawei lashed out against Washington’s campaign to bar it from developing next-generation 5G wireless networks as it unveiled a new foldable smartphone on the eve of the world’s leading mobile trade fair in Barcelona.

China’s most successful global company has secured a massive stand at the four-day Mobile World Congress and has sent a large delegation led by its media-shy founder, Ren Zhengfei.

The trade fair, which officially kicks off on Monday and is expected to attract about 100,000 people, comes as the United States has stepped up pressure on its allies to block Huawei from building its 5G networks.

American officials suspect that Beijing could use the Shenzhen-based Huawei’s products to spy on Western governments, and the company’s presence in the US has already been severely restricted.

Washington considers the matter urgent as countries around the world prepare to roll out fifth-generation (5G) networks that will bring near-instantaneous connectivity, vast data capacity and futuristic technologies such as self-driving cars.

The Trump administration has reportedly sent a large delegation of its own to the trade fair to press its case with industry executives and foreign officials.

Huawei, the world’s second-largest smartphone vendor after Samsung and the leading supplier of the backbone equipment for wireless mobile networks worldwide, vehemently denied its equipment could be used for spying.

Asked by journalists about the US government’s campaign on Sunday in Barcelona, Huawei’s rotating chairman Guo Ping said he “still can’t understand why such a national power wants to attack a company with advanced technologies.”

He added, “We have never and we are not and we will never allow back doors in our equipment and we will never allow anyone from any country to do that in our equipment.

“Huawei needs to abide by Chinese laws and also by the laws outside China if we operate in those countries. Huawei will never, and dare not, and cannot violate any rules and regulations in the countries where we operate.”

Guo said 5G security standards should be decided by technical experts, not politicians, and that Huawei hoped each country would make its decisions based on “national interests [and] not just listen to someone else’s order.”

Network operators aiming to rapidly deploy the new wireless networks are in a difficult position as Huawei’s 5G equipment is believed to be considerably more advanced than that of its rivals such as Sweden’s Ericsson or Finland’s Nokia.

Guo said Huawei is 12 months ahead of its rivals in implementing 5G technology.

– with reporting by Agence France-Presse

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