(Refiles to clarify location of meeting)
* Li says believes antitrust issue will be resolved soon
* Qualcomm exec chairman says working on “win-win” solution
By Paul Carsten
HANGZHOU, China Nov 20 (Reuters) - Qualcomm Inc’s opportunities in China will be far greater than its challenges, Premier Li Keqiang said Thursday as the U.S. mobile chipmaker prepares to face a possible record fine for antitrust violations in the country.
Speaking on the sidelines of the World Internet Conference on Thursday with Qualcomm Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs, Li said he believed Qualcomm would resolve the issue with the Chinese authorities. He emphasised, however, the necessity for a “level playing field” for tech companies in China.
The anti-monopoly regulator, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), is investigating Qualcomm’s local subsidiary after it said in February the U.S. chipmaker was suspected of overcharging and abusing its market position in wireless communication standards, allegations which could see it hit with record fines of more than $1 billion.
Qualcomm’s Jacobs said the company was having “difficult discussions” with the regulator to find a “win-win solution”.
Western business lobbies have criticised the Qualcomm investigation, along with a spate of recent antitrust probes into foreign companies in China, as part of a new wave of protectionism driven by the Chinese leadership.
Chinese officials have said their investigations have targeted both domestic and foreign companies equally.
Qualcomm earned 49 percent of its global revenue in China, or $12.29 billion for the year ended September 29.
In recent months, Qualcomm has sought to deepen its presence in China by transferring technology to domestic firms and investing in next-generation chipsets.
In July, the San Diego-based company said it was partnering with Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp, one of China’s biggest chipset makers, to manufacture Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors. (Reporting by Paul Carsten and Matthew Miller; Writing by Gerry Shih; Editing by Miral Fahmy)