RETAIL BEHEMOTH Best Buy will reportedly stop flogging Huawei smartphones amid US concerns of Chinese espionage.
So says CNBC, which has heard from a "person with knowledge of the matter" that Best Buy has ceased ordering new smartphones from Huawei stop selling the company's devices over "the next few weeks".
In a statement, Best Buy refused to confirm the report, saying: "We don't comment on specific contracts with vendors, and we make decisions to change what we sell for a variety of reasons."
In a statement given to INQ, Huawei said that it "values the relationship it has with Best Buy and all our other retail partners", but added that "as a policy, we do not discuss the details of our partner relationships".
The as-yet-unconfirmed move comes as the US government sounds off warnings about Chinese tech firms.
Last month, six intelligence officials, including the heads of the CIA, FBI, NSA and the director of national intelligence, warned American citizens not to use smartphones from the Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE.
FBI Director Chris Wray said at the time: "We're deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don't share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks."
"That provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure. It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage."
Following similar pressure from US gov officials, AT&T and Verizon recently backed out of deals to flog Huawei smartphones.
Speaking at this year's CES, where Huawei was expected to announce its planned partnership with AT&T, the firm's CEO Richard Yu hit out at the US telecoms market.
"Everybody knows that in the US market that over 90 per cent of smartphones are sold by carrier channels," he said. "It's a big loss for us, and also for carriers, but the more big loss is for consumers, because consumers don't have the best choice."
He went on to say that Huawei faced plenty of doubters in its native China too, adding: "We win the trust of the Chinese carriers, we win the trust of the emerging markets... and also we win the trust of the global carriers, all the European and Japanese carriers.
"We are serving over 70 million people worldwide. We've proven our quality, we've proven our privacy and security protection." µ
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