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Huawei finally has some good news: Mate 20 hits 10 million shipped

The Chinese tech giant manages to sell millions despite finding itself in a geopolitical quagmire.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Most recent headlines adorned with the Huawei brand haven't borne good news. On Monday night, however, Huawei mobile boss Yu Chengdong had something to crow about.

Huawei's Mate 20, an acclaimed phone that boasts three rear cameras and an in-screen fingerprint sensor, has shipped 10 million units after four-and-a-half months on the market, Yu said. He made the announcement on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform. 

Despite virtually no presence in the US, Huawei is a worldwide powerhouse when it comes to phones. The firm sold over 200 million phones in 2018, according to Canalys, and it's on a hot run in terms of making quality flagships. Both the Mate 20 and the P20 lines impressed us.

However, the company is increasingly embroiled in a standoff with the US government. It all began early last year when the US government, out of national security fears, pressured AT&T and Verizon into backing out of new deals that would have seen them carry Huawei phones.

More notably, last December Meng Wanzhou, Huawei CFO and daughter of Huawei cofounder Ren Zhengfei, was detained in Canada on orders from the US Department of Justice. Meng is accused of defrauding various financial institutions in order to covertly breach US sanctions on companies doing business in Iran.

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Similar activity from ZTE, another Chinese phone and telecommunications company, led to a bill prohibiting the US government and its contractors from buying certain telecommunications and video surveillance equipment from ZTE, Huawei and other Chinese companies. 

Phones, tablets and other consumer devices are only half of Huawei's business. It's also a telecommunications business, and some Western governments, most notably the US, are concerned that the company has or could build backdoors into the infrastructure it builds in foreign countries. The Chinese government is feared to be using these backdoors in negative ways.

The situation sharply escalated last Wednesday when Huawei announced a lawsuit against the US government for the aforementioned equipment ban. In other words, don't expect the Mate 20 to be sold through any major US retailers soon.