In his third public interview, Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei used a rare media roundtable to vouch that his company does not spy on behalf of China and that he deeply misses his daughter.
“No law requires any company in China to install mandatory back doors,” the 74-year-old former Chinese army officer said to several reporters. He denied that Huawei was forced to abide by China’s new national security law.
According to a draft of China’s national intelligence law that was recently released, all Chinese companies “shall support, cooperate with and collaborate in national intelligence work, and maintain the secrecy of national intelligence work they are aware of.”
Ren also emphasized that the company has never been involved in a “serious security incident.”
Meng was granted bail but currently faces extradition to the U.S.
The U.S. reportedly said Ren’s daughter deceived international banks to funnel transactions between Huawei and Iran. Meng has maintained that Huawei has no connection or involvement.
At the time of her arrest, Canadian authorities said the country has a rule of law and an independent judiciary, and that Meng must comply with a judicial proceeding before she could be released.
“As Meng’s father, I miss her very much,” he said. The Financial Times reported that the president of the company spoke for more than two hours at Huawei’s Shenzhen headquarters and was “brushing off an attempt by his aide to curtail the meeting.”
Huawei president looks up to Apple’s Steve Jobs
FT reported that Ren has only given two previous public interviews, both times to assuage clients and the public of any connection between Huawei and cyber espionage.
The talk is the first time Ren has spoken publicly since his appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos three years ago.
At the roundtable media event, Ren noted that he loved his country but would never harm other countries.
“I still love my country, I support the Communist Party, but I will never do anything to harm any country in the world,” he said, adding he models himself off of U.S. tech giant Apple when it comes to protecting privacy.
“I own 1.14 percent of Huawei’s shares,” he said. “Steve Jobs had .8 percent in Apple. This suggests that it is reasonable for my stake to be further diluted – I’ll learn from Steve Jobs.”
Most recently, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook noted that he was not afraid to travel to China or that the country might detain him in retaliation for the arrest of Meng.
“I was just there in October. I’m going back later this quarter. And so it’s not something I’m even thinking about is the truth,” Cook said. “I don’t know the circumstances of [the arrest], and I don’t need to know and shouldn’t know. But what I can tell you is I feel welcomed when I go there.”
On January 3rd, 2019, the U.S. State Department issued an increased travel warning about China. It urged U.S. citizens to “exercise increased caution” in the country “due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals”
The advisory said that Chinese authorities have “exit bans” in place to not allow U.S. citizens to travel back and that could last “for years.”
Ren speaks highly of Trump, calls him a “great president”
It has been reported that U.S. president Donald Trump might announce an executive order that would block local companies from buying equipment from foreign telecommunications manufacturers if they pose a national security threat.
This would come after the country banned Huawei in August 2018 from supplying 5G networking equipment out of fear of a national security breach. Following the ban, Australia and New Zealand followed suit and also banned the telecommunications provider from supplying 5G equipment.
Though during the interview, Ren spoke highly of Trump and called him a “great president.” He added that his tax cuts have been good for companies operating in the U.S. market like Huawei.
“Huawei is not so important!” He exclaimed. “How can a small sesame seed affect a great conflict between two great powers of U.S. and China?”
“The Message to the U.S. I want to communicate is: collaboration and shared success. In our world of high tech, it’s increasingly impossible for any single company or country to sustain or to support the world’s needs.”
He added: “It’s not the industrial era anymore. In the industrial era, one country could make a complete textile machine, a complete train, a complete ship. This is the information era, and our interdependence is very high.”
Scrutiny on 5G technology
But Huawei is still scrutinized heavily on its research and involvement in 5G technology.
5G is considered the next iteration of mobile connectivity and the successor to 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE).
Although the technology’s exact purpose remains a continually evolving question, it has a variety of theoretical objectives, including significantly faster smartphone data connectivity, autonomous vehicles, smart home devices and, particularly in a Canadian context, improved rural fixed internet connections.
FT reported that Huawei expects revenues to rise 20 percent this year to $120 billion USD, which would make it one of the largest research budgets in the world. Huawei has said it plans to spend $20 billion a year to stay ahead of its competition.
Huawei Canada releases video
In Canada, Huawei Canada has been in the country since 2008. The company most recently released its Mate 20 Pro, for which ads can be found on highway billboards, plastered on the walls of malls and even prominently on display during Hockey Night in Canada, of which the company is a title sponsor.
The company specifically forged 5G-related research partnerships with several notable Canadian universities including Carleton University, the University of Waterloo and the University of British Columbia.
Huawei is also heavily investing in helping Bell and Telus build out their 5G infrastructure, though it remains unclear exactly how far along these efforts are.
We are Huawei Canada. Watch to learn more. pic.twitter.com/6ge4qRZAtE
— Huawei Canada (@Huawei_Canada) January 14, 2019
On the evening of January 14th, 2019, the company quietly released a testimonial-like video that included interviews with various employees at the company.
Some of the employees said things like: “It’s an open and innovative place,” and, “We are working on cutting edge technology and it’s a rare opportunity for any researcher. I’m glad I was given that opportunity.”
Elmira Amirloo, a researcher at Huawei Canada, stated in the video that Huawei Canada is working towards getting more industrial partners.
“We have the universities, but we don’t essentially have the industrial partners to back it up, so I think Huawei is doing that and it’s great for Canada,” she said.
Before stepping down from his role, vice-president of corporate affairs Scott Bradley spoke to MobileSyrup in one of his last interviews.
He stood strongly behind the company and said that the work Huawei does is vital to Canada. He vouched for the Huawei and noted that it would affect all the research the company has done if Canada decides to ban its involvement from the country’s burgeoning 5G infrastructure.
Image Credit: YouTube (Screenshot).
Source: The Financial Times