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Chinese language Tech Corporations Weigh Alternatives in Russia After Western Pullout

Chinese language Tech Corporations Weigh Alternatives in Russia After Western Pullout

HONG KONG—As Western tech corporations halt gross sales to Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, their Chinese language rivals have a possibility to capitalize on their departure. Doing so gained’t be simple within the face of rising logistical, monetary and authorized hurdles.

Chinese language tech giants, nonetheless, have stayed silent and present no indicators of becoming a member of the exit. Many have constructed sturdy ties in Russia over current a long time, capturing greater than 40% of the marketplace for some tech merchandise. They usually take their cue from Beijing, which has declared its opposition to U.S. sanctions.

Whereas Russia is a small tech market by international requirements—it accounts for about 2% of world smartphone and PC shipments—it’s Europe’s largest cellphone market and a aggressive tech battleground the place Western manufacturers vie with Chinese language rivals for prime billing.


Xiaomi Corp.

is Russia’s No. 2 cellphone vendor, sandwiched between South Korea’s market chief Samsung and third-place Apple, in accordance with market tracker Counterpoint Analysis. Hong Kong-based

Lenovo Group Ltd.

is the second-largest PC vendor in Russia. behind HP, which led the market final 12 months with a 21% share, in accordance with Worldwide Information Corp. Huawei Applied sciences Co., based mostly in Shenzhen, is Russia’s prime telecom-equipment vendor and competes with Ericsson for 5G contracts.

The U.S. and its allies imposed an array of economic sanctions and export controls on Russia and its ally Belarus in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They embody a ban on exports to Russia’s protection sector and complicated restrictions on the export to Russia of overseas merchandise made utilizing U.S. gear, software program or blueprints.

The foundations include carve-outs for some client electronics comparable to PCs and cellphones, specialists say, probably opening the door for a few of these Chinese language sellers to make beneficial properties in the event that they stick round, however doing so gained’t be simple, analysts mentioned.

“It’s an enormous opening,” mentioned

Tarun Pathak,

an analyst at Counterpoint, however he cautioned that the businesses face extra hurdles to ramping up gross sales in Russia. “We see issues getting a bit robust.”

Cables and circuit boards on show at a Huawei showroom in Moscow.


Anton Novoderezhkin/Zuma Press

Obstacles going through Chinese language corporations embody logistical snarls in Russia, issues with funds from monetary sanctions, and the chance of operating afoul of the shifting and extremely complicated U.S. and allied export controls, even inadvertently.

“Chinese language corporations, like some other, don’t need to face unpaid invoices, main logistical challenges or be uncovered even not directly to sanctions or sanctioned entities or people, and that record is rising on a regular basis,” mentioned

Duncan Clark,

chairman of the investment-advisory agency BDA China.

The sanctions barring the export of merchandise made utilizing U.S. know-how are modeled on these Washington efficiently utilized to Huawei in 2020. After they took impact, corporations around the globe—even in China—had been compelled to halt gross sales to the telecom big due to the widespread presence of American gear and software program in high-tech provide chains.

Beijing final 12 months handed a legislation aimed toward countering overseas sanctions towards Chinese language folks and corporations, however tech companies that flout the Western export guidelines danger penalties by these international locations.

“Chinese language corporations have far more to lose than to realize by violating sanctions,” analysts at Gavekal Dragonomics mentioned in a analysis report. “For many Chinese language corporations, Russia is simply too small of a marketplace for the enterprise to be definitely worth the danger of getting reduce off from developed markets or being sanctioned itself.”

On Wednesday, the Chinese language state-run newspaper International Occasions revealed an article describing a possibility for Chinese language smartphone and vehicle corporations in Russia following the departure of their U.S. rivals. The article has since been taken down.

Chinese language corporations managed about 41% of the Russian smartphone market final 12 months, in accordance with Counterpoint Analysis. They embody Xiaomi and different fast-growing manufacturers, Honor System Co. and Realme Chongqing Cell Telecommunications Corp. Apple’s choice to droop gross sales probably places its 14% share of the market up for grabs. The businesses didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on the finish of February, the U.S. and allied international locations have imposed heavy sanctions on Russia. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday dives into how these sanctions are affecting everybody from President Vladimir Putin to on a regular basis Russian residents. Picture: Pavel Golovkin/Related Press

Lenovo, the world’s largest PC firm, was a goal of shock final week on Chinese language social media following an unsourced Belarusian media report that it was becoming a member of Western tech corporations in halting gross sales to Russia. Lenovo, which hasn’t commented on the report, didn’t reply to requests for remark.

HP, which managed 21% of the Russian market final 12 months, in accordance with IDC, has mentioned its choice to halt gross sales in Russia will end in a success to second-quarter earnings. Dell was Russia’s No. 6 vendor at slightly below 5%.

For China’s massive telecom-equipment sellers, there are totally different dangers. The carve-outs for smartphone and different consumer-gadget makers doesn’t usually prolong to telecom gear, mentioned

Kevin Wolf,

a former Commerce Division official and a companion at legislation agency Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington.

Meaning Huawei could not be capable of readily seize market share in Russia from Swedish rival Ericsson. The Chinese language firm has been constructing 5G networks there and has deep ties to the market, which it entered within the Nineties. Huawei declined to remark.

Write to Dan Strumpf at

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