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Huawei Technologies Co. is emerging as the runaway winner in China’s $170 billion effort to build out its fifth-generation wireless networks, part of a concerted effort by Beijing to seize the lead in a key technology from the U.S. while rebooting a virus-stricken economy. Since the beginning of the year, Huawei has secured 28.4 billion yuan ($4 billion) worth of 5G equipment orders from the country’s largest carrier, China Mobile Ltd., beating out competitors like Ericsson AB and ZTE Corp. to win more than half of the 5G contracts awarded by the operator during the period, according to an analysis of procurement data by Bloomberg News. Huawei is relying on its home market more than ever, at a time its growth has all but evaporated. The 5G contract haul shows Huawei is benefiting from the domestic market and building its telecommunications expertise despite the Trump administration’s blacklisting last year. Beijing has forcefully defended Huawei, and the country’s three wireless operators -- all state-backed -- have added support through network contracts. While China has spent years striving for leadership in 5G, the effort took on greater urgency after the coronavirus led to the nation’s first economic contraction in decades. In a meeting with senior officials in March, Chinese President Xi Jinping singled out the technology’s importance for rebooting the economy. Weeks later, the country’s telecom regulator said China will “make every effort” to hasten the expansion of 5G coverage. “The focus on buildouts, handsets, and other metrics miss the fact that 5G will be a platform where innovative Chinese companies such as Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, and a host of new tech unicorns will be able to build new applications and use cases,” said Paul Triolo, head of global technology policy at Eurasia Group. “Beijing wants Chinese companies to lead in this race to innovate on top of 5G.” China is entrusting Huawei to galvanize 5G tech, a cornerstone of a national “new infrastructure” blueprint that covers nascent technologies from the Internet of Things and autonomous driving to surveillance and factory automation. An early and successful rollout could help solidify Huawei’s position as a world leader in 5G. More deals are on the horizon. China has earmarked 1.2 trillion yuan to build 5G networks in the next five years, directly creating more than 3 million jobs in related sectors, according to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government thinks tank. IDC telecom analyst Cui Kai said 5G investment will continue to climb and peak in 2022 or 2023. This year, China’s three state-owned telecom carriers will spend a total of 180 billion yuan on 5G-related projects, including base stations and smartphones. China Telecom and China Unicom still have to announce bidding results. Learn more by visiting OUR FORUM.