Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said “there is not the slightest possibility that the United States will destroy” the Chinese technology giant. The statement was given in an exclusive interview with BBC News.
In December of last year, Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s financial director and Zhengfei’s daughter, was arrested in Canada at the request of the US government. She was subsequently released but is still under surveillance in Canada while filing an extradition proceeding for the United States .
The US accuses Huawei and Meng Wanzhou of money laundering, bank fraud and theft of technology secrets. Huawei denies having committed any irregularities.
According to Ren Zhengfei, his Chinese technology company is “more advanced” and therefore can not be seriously affected even though the US persuades “more countries” not to buy products from the company. “We can always reduce our operation a little bit,” he said.
He acknowledges, however, that potential loss of clientele can have a significant impact.
‘If the lights of the West go out … Others will light up’
Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned allies that it would be “harder to maintain the partnership” if these nations used Huawei technology.
In addition to the US, Australia and New Zealand have banned or prevented Huawei from providing equipment in its territories for the future use of 5G technology. Canada, for its part, is examining whether the Chinese company’s products pose a national “threat to security.”
In the UK, large telephone companies, such as Vodafone, EE and Three, work together with Huawei to develop their 5G networks. They are awaiting a review by the British government, due to be completed in March or April, which will decide whether they can continue to buy technology from the Chinese company.
“If the lights go out in the West, those in the East will be lit. If the North goes out, there are still those in the South.” The United States does not represent the world, the United States represents a part of the world, “said Ren Zhengfei.
Asked about the possibility of Huawei being banned from the UK, Ren said: “We still trust the UK and we hope the UK will trust us.We will invest even more in the UK.If the United States does not trust us, we will shift investments to the UK on an even larger scale. “
What Ren said about her daughter’s arrest
In an interview with BBC News, Ren also commented on the arrest of Meng Wanzhou. She and Huawei are the target of 23 counts, divided into two inquiries at the US Department of Justice.
The first includes accusations that Huawei would have secret deals with Iran – a country that is subject to US economic sanctions . The second includes the allegation that the Chinese company has tried to steal technological secrets from American companies.
“First, I oppose what the United States did,” Huawei’s founder said. “This kind of politically motivated act is unacceptable.”
“The United States likes to impose sanctions on others, whenever there is a problem, they use that kind of method, we’re against it, but now that we’re on that road we’re going to wait for Justice to decide.”
What Ren said about allegations that Huawei spies
Huawei, China’s largest privately owned company, is suspected of being used for spying by Chinese intelligence services. Under Chinese law, companies are required to “assist, cooperate and collaborate in national intelligence work”.
But Ren says allowing spying on behalf of the Chinese government is a risk he would not take. He said the Chinese government has already said it will not install devices to obtain company information and that Huawei itself would not accept it.
“We will not risk being scorned by our country and our consumers around the world for something like this.” “Our company will never participate in any espionage activity,” he said.
Is Huawei part of the Chinese state?
Analysis of Karishma Vaswami, BBC Asia Business reporter who interviewed the founder of Huawei
For a man known to be reclusive and mysterious , Ren Zhengfei seemed confident that his company, built over the past 30 years, is capable of surviving the scrutiny of Western governments.
Ren is right: the US market is only a fraction of Huawei’s business.
But in a moment, I realized that confidence would be diluted: it was when I asked about his connections with the Chinese army and government.
He refused to dwell on the conversation, saying only that these were not facts but simple claims. Still, some signs of the close ties between Ren and the Chinese government were revealed during the interview.
He also confirmed that there is a Communist Party committee on the premises of Huawei, but argued that this is what all foreign or domestic companies operating in China need to do to comply with local law.