‘Innovation is neither an option nor an embellishment’: China’s ZTE vows to hit goal of US$31 billion by 2020 despite export ban

New president Zhao Xianming sends memo to staff guaranteeing promised incentives, says company will rebuild its operational philosophy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 April, 2016, 8:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 April, 2016, 8:06pm

ZTE, China’s largest-listed telecommunications equipment manufacturer, told its more than 80,000 employees on Tuesday that it would reach its targeted annual revenue of 200 billion yuan (US$30.92 billion) by 2020 despite uncertainty linked to accusations that it violated US trade rules.

The company will meet the target and not backtrack on promised incentives to staff, new company president and chief executive Zhao Xianming wrote in an internal letter today.

Zhao has replaced Shi Lirong as president, ZTE revealed.

China’s ZTE overhauls management team amid talks to lift US curbs

This coincides with an apparent move by the US Commerce Department to soften the export curbs it recently applied on the company for allegedly shipping products to Iran in violation of Washington’s longstanding trade sanctions on the country.

The ban, which threatens to create bottlenecks for ZTE by hitting suppliers who make components for the company in the US, has been given a “temporary relief of six months”, the Commerce Department said.

In the message to his workforce, Zhao refrained from discussing the ban but said ZTE would take time to rethink and rebuild its operational philosophy.

“You may have read various articles in the media about ZTE recently. I can assure you that we have been transparent and proactive in addressing any issues, and with the support from different parties and the industry, the situation is being resolved,” he wrote.

“We will be taking extra measures to ensure that legal compliance and anti-corruption processes eliminate any possibility of non-compliance. We will put practical measures in place to rebuild our operational philosophy and turn the challenges into opportunities.”

The business plan leading up to 2020 is not likely to be changed, however.

For ZTE and more Chinese tech firms, the Promised Land in 2016 may be the United States

The company announced this late last year, saying it would expand its global business and reach its annual revenue goal by that deadline.

ZTE will leverage its experience and position in the telecommunications network sector to hit this target, Zhao said. He also listed many other opportunities to build on its success, including content, big data networks, cloud computing, 5G services and virtual reality.

Meanwhile, the company will continue to shore up its research and development capabilities to push forward innovation and drive sales growth, Zhao added.

He encouraged staff to be critical of their own performances and those of their colleagues.

“Innovation is neither an option nor an embellishment, it is of the utmost importance. It is only by creating irresistible products that we can outmatch the competition.” he added.

Zhao had been ZTE’s Chief Technology Officer since February last year, taking charge of the company’s cloud computing, strategic management and IT business department.