Shenzhen (China) (AFP)

US sanctions threaten its "survival" but Huawei continues to expand, like its headquarters in Shenzhen (south) whose false European village hosts the future engineers of the Chinese telecoms giant.

In the viewfinder for a year and a half of the Trump administration, which suspects it of spying for the benefit of Beijing, the world's number two mobile phone continues to increase its turnover and its workforce.

Washington fired a new round last week by announcing a series of measures to prevent Huawei from developing semiconductors abroad using American technology.

The Chinese group denounced on Monday an "arbitrary" and "pernicious" decision by Washington, while now saying it is in "survival" mode.

But to believe managers and employees, the ambition of the world number 5G equipment, the fifth generation of mobile internet, is intact.

US pressure "naturally raises concerns," said Ryan Liu, deputy director of "Huawei University", where the group's employees are trained.

"But I have worked for Huawei for many years and I am sure that the company will guide us on the right path," he told AFP.

Since Huawei became the indirect victim of the trade war launched by the United States against its big Chinese competitor at the end of 2018, the global workforce has increased from 180,000 to 194,000, according to management.

And global turnover increased by 19% last year.

- "Major impact" -

But the latest US sanctions "will have a major impact on Huawei" if they are effectively applied, predicts Kelsey Broderick, an analyst at the consulting firm Eurasia Group.

Deprived of American chips, the group will struggle to find replacement materials in China, she predicts.

In the past, Washington has, on several occasions, granted delays in the application of its sanctions so as not to penalize the American suppliers of Huawei.

In this context, "the question is whether the implementation of the sanctions will be really strict," observes Ms. Broderick.

But the pressure is likely to be long-lasting.

Guo Ping, current chairman of the group, said this week that Washington feared losing its technological lead to the benefit of Chinese companies.

On the "European" campus where Huawei hosts some 25,000 employees, staff believe that the animosity of Donald Trump only strengthens the group, founded by a former engineer in the Chinese army.

Deprived of Google's Android operating system, Huawei is forced to accelerate the development of its own system, HarmonyOS, unveiled last year.

As for the chips, Huawei is increasing its efforts to have them produced by its subsidiary HiSilicon.

- Psychological pressure -

"This challenge (from the United States) will plunge us into an atmosphere of crisis, but our answer is to do our job well, knowing that it will end up paying," hopes Mr. Liu.

Its "university" provides management or technology courses, as well as 15-day training for new recruits, with compulsory gym and weight training in the morning.

More recently, psychology classes have addressed ways to manage the pressure brought on by Uncle Sam's hostility.

"The world is full of uncertainty and we have to adjust our thinking," said Liu.

Sanctions across the Pacific have given Huawei national hero status in China, but its campus is divided into a series of "European villages" called "Paris", "Bologna" or "Heidelberg", with a corresponding architecture.

Eleven villages, linked together by orange and red trains, are completed and a twelfth is under construction.

A newcomer, Zhu Anran, 36, says that American vindication is in everyone's mind but that he is not worried about the sustainability of his employer.

"As a Chinese, I am proud to join a company like Huawei."

© 2020 AFP