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Huawei to ‘exit’ US market amid spying accusations

The world's largest telecommunications equipment maker is to pull out of the US market in order to quash claims of cyber spying and improve the relationship between the US and China, according to comments made by the company's CEO.

Ren Zhengfei, the founder and CEO of Huawei, said in an interview with French media last week that the company would not seek business in the US due to accusations that it was acting as a proxy for Chinese authorities to spy on America.

"It's not worth it if Huawei gets in the middle of U.S-China relations," Zhengfei reportedly said. "Therefore, we have decided to exit the U.S. market, and not stay in the middle."

The extent of the exit is not yet clear, though Zhengfei hinted that mobile phones will continue to be sold in the US, saying: "Our handsets in the United States are still selling well." It is also thought that Huawei will remain in the United States for research and development.

Huawei vice president William Plummer has subsequently said that the company would be changing its focus. "It is true that Huawei has adjusted our priority focus to markets that welcome competition and investment, like Europe," Plummer told Foreign Policy.

During the French interview, Zhengfei also announced that Huawei would be opening a new centre for research and development in Paris, creating 170 new positions. This was faced with some criticism from the French press as it is apparently well below $2 billion (£1.2 billion) worth of planned investment in the UK over the next five years.

Earlier this year it was revealed that Huawei was working closely with British governing bodies in order to gain greater trust in western markets.