China's Huawei says 2020 sales rose despite US sanctions

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FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2020, file photo, an employee wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus stands inside a Huawei flagship store in Beijing. Chinese tech giant Huawei said Wednesday, March 31, 2021, it eked out a gain in sales and profit last year but growth plunged after its smartphone unit was hammered by U.S. sanctions imposed in a fight with Beijing over technology and security.(AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

BEIJING – Chinese tech giant Huawei said Wednesday it eked out higher sales and profit last year but growth plunged after its smartphone unit was hammered by U.S. sanctions imposed in a fight with Beijing over technology and security.

China’s first global tech brand reported sales of phones, network gear and other technology rose 3.8% over 2019 to 891.4 billion yuan ($135.8 billion), a decline from the previous year’s 19.1% growth. That was propelled by a 15.4% gain in China, while sales in other markets shrank.

Huawei Technologies Ltd. is struggling to keep its global markets after then-President Donald Trump in 2019 cut off access to U.S. processor chips and other technology. Huawei was the top-selling smartphone brand in the second quarter of 2020 but fell out of the global top five after losing Google's music and other popular services.

“We think this is a very unfair situation to Huawei. It has damaged us a lot,” chairman Ken Hu said at a news conference at Huawei headquarters in the southern city of Shenzhen.

The results reflect the damage from sanctions and point to a possible future for Huawei that focuses on China and on networks and other products that are less vulnerable to foreign pressure.

Huawei, which denies accusations it might aid Chinese spying, sold its lower-priced Honor smartphone brand in hopes of reviving sales by separating it from the sanctions on the parent company.

Huawei says it has a stockpile of U.S. chips for its high-end smartphones but executives have said those are running out. Trump expanded sanctions by barring global suppliers last year from using U.S. technology to produce chips for Huawei.

Economists and political analysts expect little change under President Joe Biden, who succeeded Trump in January. The founder of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, said in February he sees little chance that sanctions will be lifted.