Despite being blackballed from the American market as U.S. regulators explore legal and possibly criminal action against the company, Huawei has been growing its share of the smartphone market and has an ambitious goal for the end of the year.

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Data: IDC; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

“Even without the U.S. market we will be number one in the world,” Richard Yu, Huawei’s consumer division chief, said at a new-product news conference in Beijing this week. “I believe at the earliest this year, and next year at the latest.”

Between the lines: With CFO Meng Wanzhou set to appear in court on Feb. 6 and likely to stand trial this year, Huawei could become the first telecommunications company to have the world's top-selling smartphone while its CFO is in jail.

Go deeper: Huawei arrest marks escalation in U.S-China fight over 5G

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