With the White House ramping up efforts to derail the ambitions of Chinese tech companies in the U.S., electronics giant Huawei said it would increasingly look to Europe to grow its international market share in high-end devices.
At the company's annual analyst summit in Shenzhen, Changzhu Li, vice president of the consumer business group's handsets strategy, said the U.S. had effectively "locked the door" to the tech giant.
The U.S. has long held an allure for companies, Li said, because it's "huge, it's the perfect market for all the smartphone vendors."
"That's why, in the past years, we have invested a lot of effort to communicate with operators, distributors, and partners. I think this effort will go on, but some factors we can't control," he added.
Huawei has faced increasing headwinds in its push to make inroads in the U.S. market, as the White House and Republican lawmakers target Chinese tech companies, citing national security concerns.
In January, AT&T was forced to walk away from a deal to sell Huawei handsets after pressure from Congress and federal regulators. On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission voted to move forward with a new rule to block federal subsidies from telecommunications equipment suppliers that "raise national security concerns."
The company has repeatedly denied allegations from U.S. lawmakers that its technology could be used by the Chinese government to gather intelligence.
Last month, Huawei launched its new flagship phone, the P20 series, in Paris, in a renewed push to make gains in a market Li called key, for "brand enhancement." In fact, he said, Europe is the most important market for Huawei's high-end devices outside of China.
"The recognition from this market is very important for us," Li said. "It's a natively high-end market considering the GDP, considering the culture."
Huawei already has 15 to 20 percent market share in Europe, according to Li. Italy and Spain remain big growth areas, with Huawei now shipping more smartphones than Apple, according to data from market research firm Counterpoint.