Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei (pictured) reportedly called on employees at sub brand Honor to ensure the company becomes a major competitor in the smartphone market, as it offloads the unit due to US sanctions.

In a speech delivered at an Huawei employee forum, Zhengfei said he wanted to see Honor become Huawei’s biggest competitor after the “divorce” between the two companies, and toppling its former parent should become “your slogan for motivation”, Reuters reported.

Huawei confirmed plans to sell all of its Honor business assets to domestic consortium Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology Co earlier this month, blaming US sanctions.

At the time, the vendor said the smartphone unit had “been under tremendous pressure due to a persistent unavailability of technical elements needed for our mobile phone business”.

Zhengfei took aim at the US during his speech, with the nation leading a global campaign against Huawei by accusing it of being a security threat.

Huawei has consistently denied it uses its equipment to spy for China.

“Wave after wave of severe US sanctions against Huawei has led us to finally understand certain American politicians want to kill us, not just correct us,” he said.

He added Huawei could overcome the difficulties, but it had taken the decision to sell Honor as millions of its employees and distributors would lose their jobs if sales channels dried up.

Honor has a huge task ahead if it is to surpass Huawei.

Canalys figures show Honor smartphones comprised 26 per cent of the 51.7 million phones Huawei shipped in Q3.