Huawei Deputy Chairman Ken Hu speaks during the Huawei Connect conference in Shanghai on September 18, 2019. Photo: AFP

Huawei will step up its presence in the global market for computer hardware as the Chinese telecom giant weathers a US assault on its 5G network and smartphone business.

On Wednesday, Deputy Chairman Ken Hu said the strategy is based on expectations that “incredible computing power” is going to be needed as the world turns to complicated and resource-hogging future technologies, such as artificial intelligence, or AI, and autonomous vehicles.

“We have a lot of challenges ahead of us. We need to beef up our computing power, explore new architectures, and develop processors that meet people’s needs across all scenarios,” Hu pointed out at a technology conference in Shanghai.

Huawei is already the world leader in telecom networking equipment, the number two smartphone producer, and is expected to dominate in ultra-fast future 5G networks.

But it has been swept into the trade war between China and the United States, with its future prospects now in doubt owing to a Washington campaign to isolate the company.

The US has warned that Huawei equipment could contain security loopholes that allow China to spy on global communications traffic. Those allegations have been denied by the company.

A push into the market for computer architecture and software could add a new front in Huawei’s battle with the Trump administration.

Hu cited independent estimates saying the market will be worth more than US$2 trillion by 2023, adding that Huawei would invest an additional $1.5 billion toward that effort. But he gave no timeframe or figures on the current investment.

“We will continue to invest,” he said. “Starting with the most difficult challenge ahead of us – making breakthroughs in architecture – to developing processors, we’re going to help expand the industry and build out the ecosystem.”

US President Donald Trump’s administration is pressing allies, with mixed success, to reject Huawei’s 5G technology. Washington has even threatened to cut off US components and services to the Chinese group, such as the Android operating system that runs its phones.

In August, the US Commerce Department effectively suspended those sanctions for a second time, but the possibility of future implementation has placed a cloud of uncertainty over Huawei.


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