Despite security concerns raised by the US and its allies regarding Huawei’s undersea cable projects, the Chinese company is welcomed by Southeast Asian countries and it will continue to move forward in its undersea cable business, Global Times reported.

Huawei’s representatives in Cambodia have recently had talks with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, hoping to push forward an undersea cable project connecting Sihanoukville and Hong Kong.

However, Huawei is still undecided about launching the project as it is seeking more funding in the local market, a Huawei local PR representative told the Global Times.

If things go smoothly, it will be another major undersea project that Huawei obtains in Southeast Asia after the Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand cable project unveiled in 2015, which helped local carriers to realize wider international network coverage.

“This project will help enhance connection between Cambodia and the Chinese mainland, which will also help the Southeast Asian country become an ICT hub and accelerate its digital economy,” the representative said.

The Chinese company is reportedly selling its stakes of the undersea cable business amid rising suspicions about the security of its network and equipment. However, Ren Zhengfei, founder of the company, refuted this claim.

“Huawei’s subsea cable business is very successful. We’re selling it not because of the recent crackdown, but because we consider that it is not closely related to our main core business,” he told a panel discussion in the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen, the report said.

FT earlier reported that Hengtong Optic-Electric, a Chinese manufacturer of communications cables, said it had agreed to buy Huawei’s 51 per cent stake in Huawei Marine Systems. The filing did not disclose the price.

Huawei Marine Systems has 90 projects both ongoing and completed, with a total length of 50,361 kilometers, mainly in Southeast Asia and Africa, according to its official website. Despite US pressure, it has grown to become an important player in the world’s undersea cable market.

In recent times, however, the question of Huawei’s reputation as an alleged Chinese spying facilitator has made it increasingly difficult for it to secure contracts.

In 2017 Canberra scuttled a plan to run a cable connecting the Solomon Islands to the internet after the initiative was red-flagged by the Australian intelligence service, FT reported.

In 2018 it contributed Rmb115 million (US$17 million) to group net profits, on revenue of Rmb394 million, the report added.

“The US’s undersea battle with Huawei is all about taking control of data and information, which is also the backbone of networks. Washington is worried that China will gain a larger stake in the submarine cable market so that Americans will not be able to listen in to networks or steal data from others,” Jiang Junmu, chief writer at telecom industry news website c114.com.cn, told the Global Times.