SHANGHAI — For Huawei’s longstanding efforts to crack the United States market, it’s the end of an era.
Last week, the Chinese telecom giant laid off five American employees, including its top liaison to the United States government, William Plummer, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Plummer, who was with the company for almost eight years, became the face of Huawei’s Sisyphean efforts to win over Washington.
Bedeviled by concerns about its close relationship to the Chinese government, Huawei has spent much of the last decade lobbying to be allowed to sell its communications equipment to American telecom carriers. Mr. Plummer emerged as a highly visible representative during a series of congressional hearings in 2012, which resulted in recommendations that American firms not buy the Chinese company’s products.
On his LinkedIn account, Mr. Plummer wrote that he was “in transition.”
A Huawei spokesman said in a statement that any layoffs reflected an effort to better align its resources to support the company’s “business strategy and objectives.”
“Any changes to staffing size or structure are simply a reflection of standard business organization,” he added.
It is not clear whether there will be a replacement for Mr. Plummer, but his removal seems to indicate a change in tactics for Huawei in the United States. The company’s policy operations there are led by a relatively recent arrival, Zhang Ruijun, who took over the position nine months ago after previous postings for Huawei in Mexico and Russia.