Chinese telecoms giant Huawei on Wednesday announced record net profit in 2020, but turnover stalled by the coronavirus pandemic and US sanctions.

In 2020, Huawei made a net profit rising 3.2% in annual rhythm, to 64.6 billion yuan (8.39 billion euros, 9.84 billion dollars).

Turnover increased 3.8%, compared to 19.1% a year earlier, and stood at 891.4 billion yuan (115.9 billion euros, 134 billion dollars).

“Last year we stood strong in the face of adversity,” company president Ken Hu said in a statement.

The future of Huawei, the world’s leading provider of telecommunications network equipment and the leading smartphone brand, has been in question since the previous US administration of Donald Trump launched a campaign against the company in 2018 that has been undermining its results.

Bloomberg News reported that Huawei’s revenue in the fourth quarter of 2020 declined for the first time in its history. Huawei representatives did not immediately confirm it.

Before the American pressure started, revenue growth was typically around 30% or more, although it slowed to around 19% in 2019.

In a briefing at Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen (south), Hu blamed the pandemic and “unfair” measures by the United States for the slower growth in 2020.

Smartphone sales have stalled after Washington cut off Huawei’s access to key components and banned it from using Google’s Android operating system on its phones.

Huawei said its consumer products division – which makes smartphones and other devices and accounts for more than 50% of total revenue – posted sales growth of 3.3% in 2020.

But that figure hides the impact of US sanctions. Data from independent analysts showed that phone sales, both domestically and abroad, plummeted more than 40% in the fourth quarter of 2020.

In addition, several US allies responded to Washington’s warnings about the threat to the security of Huawei equipment by prohibiting the use of its network equipment in national telecommunications systems.

The United States, mired in a growing rivalry with China, fears that the Communist Party government could use Huawei’s systems installed around the world for espionage. The Chinese government and Huawei have always flatly denied it.


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