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Chinese cellular giant rejects security worries

Huawei, a Chinese tech firm, says US security claims hurt consumers. Above, a staffer (right) speaks with reporters.

Ng Han Guan/Associated Press/File 2012

Huawei, a Chinese tech firm, says US security claims hurt consumers. Above, a staffer (right) speaks with reporters.

BEIJING — Chinese tech giant Huawei on Monday criticized US claims the company might be a security risk as trade protectionism that harms consumers.

Huawei Technologies Ltd., a maker of network switching gear and smartphones, also disclosed details of its 2012 performance in an effort to show transparency and allay security concerns.

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At a news conference, chief financial officer Cathy Meng expressed frustration about US security complaints. She said Americans pay about twice what Europeans do for third- and fourth-generation mobile phone service and suggested it was due to impediments to competition.

‘‘These measures using trade protectionism to interfere with free competition will ultimately harm the benefits of end users and consumers,’’ Meng said.

Outside the United States, Huawei has grown rapidly in developing countries and is increasing sales in Europe, becoming the first Chinese firm to break into the top ranks of global technology companies. It is challenging Sweden’s Ericsson AB for the status of the biggest network gear supplier.

Last year’s profit rose 33 percent over 2011 to $2.4 billion on sales of $34.9 billion, according to Meng. Still, last year’s profit was less than half 2010’s high of $3.9 billion.

In October, a US congressional panel recommended phone carriers avoid doing business with it or its smaller Chinese rival, ZTE Corp.

In Australia, Huawei suffered a setback in 2011 when the government barred it from bidding to work on a national broadband network.

Those actions highlight concern about Beijing’s cyber warfare efforts, a spate of hacking attempts aimed at Western companies, and the role of Chinese equipment providers, which are expanding abroad.

Huawei issued a pledge last year not to cooperate with spying.

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