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The Big Story

Huawei's rapid rise is driven by a global talent hunt

Chinese telecom giant has spent big to attract scientists and engineers from its rivals

LAULY LI and CHENG TING-FANG, Nikkei staff writers | China

TAIPEI/SHENZHEN/CHENGDU, China -- Four years ago, headhunters started calling a top engineer at Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC. They were persistent, calling three times a week -- but the engineer, who asked to be identified only as Emily, turned down their overtures.

Others could not resist the opportunity. Over the next few months, dozens of her colleagues -- including the engineers who made up the "Magic Lab," HTC's most important research and development team -- took up offers from recruiters to join Huawei. Some were offered as much as twice their existing salaries to make the switch, as the company, at that time just a producer of low-end smartphones, snapped up the talent it needed to challenge market leaders Samsung Electronics and Apple.

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