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China tech

Huawei scraps Taiwan phone launch after including island in China

Move follows outcry over 'Taiwan, China' time zone setting

The Huawei Mate 30 Pro, in a screenshot of the company's website.

GUANGZHOU -- The latest smartphone from Huawei Technologies will not hit the Taiwanese market as planned, after the mainland company drew outrage for indicating in existing phones that the island belonged to China.

The cancellation of the launch of the Mate 30 Pro may lead to downsizing of Huawei's smartphone operations in Taiwan, where its presence is already minuscule.

The new model was initially scheduled to be released on Nov. 23, but shipments were subsequently postponed. Now the handset will not be sold on the island altogether, Huawei's sales agency in Taiwan said Wednesday. Payments from customers who had preordered the phone will be returned. The release of the newest smartwatch model has also been canceled.

The withdrawals follow a backlash after Taiwanese consumers noticed last month that their Huawei models had started showing the self-ruled island as "Taiwan, China" in the time zone setting and origination locations of calls made. This prompted Taiwan's National Communications Commission to demand that Huawei fix the reference, stating that "it is not a fact and erodes our national dignity."

The mainland smartphone maker apparently weighed how to identify Taiwan in the Mate 30 Pro, and this likely affected the decision to scrap the launch.

The latest development highlights Huawei's dilemma over the politically sensitive subject. On the mainland, any business that indicates that Taiwan is independent from China draws the ire of consumers. Huawei has no choice but to focus on the mainland market for now, given its uncertain outlook abroad with the unavailability of some Google apps on its phones. While Huawei controls more than 40% of the mainland market, its Taiwanese share of a little over 4% is a far cry from those of rivals such as Apple's slice of nearly 40%.

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