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Samsung confident of reviving China smartphone business

The South Korean tech giant hopes to reverse the slump in its smartphone business in China with its new flagship smartphone

After Samsung’s smartphones sales in China dwindled, it now hopes to reverse the trend as its new Galaxy flagship smartphones were selling well.

The South Korean smartphone maker said on Wednesday it was confident it could reverse the recent slump in its fortunes in the world's biggest smartphone market.

Chinese rivals such as Huawei Technologies proved to be more than a match for Samsung in recent times, with the latter’s market share slumping from about 20 percent in 2013 to less than 1 percent currently.

Samsung Electronics Co-Chief Executive DJ Koh told shareholders at the firm's annual general meeting that it has been tough in China in the last two years. They have changed everything from the organisation and people to distribution channels.

Koh says he is positive that their flagship and mid-price models, these two products will bring a lot of change to the China market.

Although Samsung remains the world's largest smartphone maker with nearly a fifth of global unit sales, a slumping market last year led to the closure of one of its mobile phone manufacturing plants in China. Now it plans to regain the place with its latest handset featuring a big, bending screen and the first 5G connection in a premium phone, a feature analysts do not expect Apple Inc. to match until 2020.

The upbeat outlook for mobile devices in China contrasts with the company's more pessimistic take on 2019, with trade tensions, weak economic growth and softer demand for memory chips expected to weigh on operations.

Co-Chief Executive Kim Ki-nam told the meeting that they are expecting many difficulties this year such as slowing growth in major economies and risks over global trade conflicts.

Meanwhile, as sales of its core business – chips and smartphones – drop, the technology giant will focus on areas such as network equipment manufacturing.

Some shareholders vented their frustration and took the microphone to berate executives.

One shareholder told the board that if they are paid a lot of annual pay, they should work harder and asked the management to do good work.

The meeting drew more than double the usual crowd following a stock split last year which made it easier for retail investors to own Samsung stock. There was a long queue around the Samsung building to get in, and some shareholders complained they were getting hungry as the meeting dragged on.

Shareholders voted to approve the appointment of board directors.