Chinese mobile challenger Huawei admits it won't be focusing on one of the world's most important markets

Huawei shows off what virtual reality might be like with a 5G connection. (Image: Tony Yoo, Business Insider)

TOKYO — Huawei’s current CEO-in-rotation Ken Hu talked all day about the wonderful future that 5G mobile networks would bring.

With the ability to send large amounts of data in blindingly fast speeds, 5G would allow everything from smooth 4K video streaming to driverless cars.

But when the question of the US market was brought up at the Huawei Global Mobile Broadband Forum on Thursday, Hu’s tone turned sombre.

“For our 5G strategy, we currently focus on markets like China and Japan among others. In the US right now, we’re not making significant progress and we don’t have big plans for that market,” he said through an interpreter at a media conference.

“For the US, our focus right now is to drive the sales of our smart devices. We just recently launched our brand new phone and it was pretty well received by that market.”

For many years, the US has prohibited Huawei from bidding for government contracts out of fears for national security, although there has been no evidence that the Chinese tech company eavesdrops on behalf of Beijing.

Former CIA head Michael Hayden even said in 2013 that Huawei represented an “unambiguous” threat to the US and Australia.

In Australia, both Labor and coalition federal governments banned Huawei from contributing to the NBN, due to the same espionage concerns. Business Insider has asked Huawei for comment on its current strategy for Australia.

Hu said at the forum held in Tokyo that society was moving from an information age to an artificial intelligence era, and that while 4G served people-to-people communication well, 5G would enable machines to come alive.

The journalist travelled to the Global Mobile Broadband Forum in Tokyo as a guest of Huawei.

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