Ren Zhengfei, founder and chief executive of Huawei Technologies, said he had not expected such a ferocious US attack on the company and that the move to add the world’s largest telecommunications equipment vendor to a US trade blacklist was expected to wipe out US$30 billion of sales growth. Acknowledging for the first time the likely impact on Huawei of US action , Ren said on Monday that total revenue was now expected to remain stagnant at around the US$100 billion level in 2019 and 2020. He also said overseas smartphone sales had dropped 40 per cent, without specifying the time period. “We did not expect that the US would attack us with such determination and on such a large scale,” he said during a panel discussion at the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen. “We made some preparations, such as for the core business part, but we have been unable to protect some of the secondary parts [of our business].” Ren was speaking during an open panel discussion called “A coffee with Ren”, in which Huawei’s founder held a wide-ranging talk with two American technologists, George Gilder and Nicholas Negroponte. Although speaking in a slightly softer tone than his usual direct style, Ren nevertheless remained upbeat about Huawei’s long-term future. “After all this, we will become even stronger,” he said. “We are the birds that will never die.” Huawei in March reported a 19.5 per cent jump in annual revenue to 721.2 billion yuan (US$107.1 billion) in 2018, capping a year in which it came under siege as the US government sought to block use of the company’s 5G gear in mobile networks around the world. “Huawei lowering its growth target will have an impact on the overall devices market and ICT [information and communications technology] industry,” said Cao Zhongxiong, executive director of New Economy studies at Shenzhen-based think tank China Development Institute. “In the past two years, Huawei has been able to push ahead even though the global smartphone market has been in a downward trend … now the future remains unclear.” US chip makers quietly lobby Washington to ease Huawei ban Huawei is currently facing a string of US charges, including that the company stole trade secrets, violated economic sanctions and concealed its Iran business dealings via an unofficial subsidiary. Huawei has repeatedly and vehemently denied these allegations, accusing the US of lacking evidence. The spat comes as trade tensions between the US and China continue to rise in the absence of a comprehensive agreement on tariffs and market access. In mid-May, the US government placed Huawei and its affiliates on a trade blacklist that restricts the company from buying services and parts from US companies without approval. Google and Microsoft, whose Android and Windows software Huawei largely relies upon in its smartphones, tablets and laptops, have both suspended access for new Huawei devices. Marketing and sales managers at Huawei are internally expecting a drop in overseas smartphone sales of anywhere between 40 million to 60 million units this year, according to a Bloomberg report on Monday. This Huawei executive has the job of taking on Apple without Android “[Huawei] will see new life in 2021,” Ren said. “[But] we will have a lot of versions to switch, and it will take time,” he added, without elaborating. Ren said even though the scale of the US onslaught had been unforeseen, Huawei does not expect to make major lay-offs, although business consolidation and periodic reviews are a normal part of its operations. In May, Huawei’s mobile chief Richard Yu Chengdong revealed that Huawei’s self-developed OS, which can be used in place of Android , is likely to hit the market as soon as this autumn, and no later than spring next year, and will be able to support a range of products and systems within its ecosystem, including smartphones, computers, tablets, TVs, automobiles and smart wear. Huawei CEO says clash with US was ‘inevitable’ Ren said that American companies had demonstrated a “moral conscience”, with Huawei’s development over the past 30 years dependent on the support of advanced technologies from the US. He said Huawei’s cooperation with US companies would continue no matter what happens in the interim. The two panellists – Gilder, founder and partner of the Gilder Technology Fund, and Negroponte, co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab and who specialises in the field of computer-aided design – both slammed the US blacklisting of Huawei, saying problems needed to be sorted out through dialogue rather than outright bans. In April, MIT ended its funding ties with Chinese telecoms equipment makers Huawei and ZTE , citing the risks that such arrangements might cause in light of US federal investigations of the two companies. Huawei, which currently supports over 300 universities and 900 research institutions, will continue its efforts around the development of basic sciences despite a retreat from certain schools and institutions, Ren added.