Huawei CEO: ‘I’d rather shut down the company than damage our customers’

Huawei UK HQ

Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei has vehemently denied that the vendor would hand over customer information to the Chinese government if it was asked to do so.
Ren was speaking during a media briefing as Huawei continues to come under pressure from governments around the world – with some opting not to include the vendor’s technology in their networks.
BT recently said it will not use Huawei in its 5G infrastructure, while also removing it from its 4G networks.
Recent reports also claimed that Germany is considering whether to ban the vendor’s tech. Australia, New Zealand and the US have already done so.
Meanwhile, the CEO’s daughter is currently being held in Canada, allegedly under the accusation of violating US sanctions against Iran. A Huawei employee in Poland was also arrested on suspicion of espionage earlier this week, and has since been sacked.
Speaking to the press, Ren said Huawei looks to emulate Apple when it comes to privacy – referring to the vendor’s refusal to build a backdoor for the US government.
“We will never do anything to harm the interests of our customers,” he said.
“Apple is an example we look up to in terms of privacy protection. We will learn from Apple.
“We would rather shut Huawei down than do anything that would damage the interests of our customers in order to seek our own gains.”
Ren claimed that Huawei has never been asked to hand over information by the Chinese government, and said he has received assurance from the government that no laws can force it to build backdoors into products.
“Neither Huawei, nor I personally, have ever received any requests from any government to provide improper information,” he said.
Some of the suspicion around Huawei stems from Ren’s personal views, with the CEO a supporter of the Communist Party of China and an ex-officer of the People’s Liberation Army.
“Today, I still love my country,” he said. “I support the Communist Party of China but I will never do anything to harm any other nation.”
Ren also seemed to hold out an olive branch to the US government, claiming that no one tech company can succeed in innovating alone.
“The message to the US that I want to communicate is collaboration and shared success,” he said. “In our high-tech world, it is increasingly impossible for any single company or even any single country to do the whole thing.
“In the industrialisation era, maybe one nation alone would have all the capabilities needed to produce a complete textile machine, a complete train, or a complete ship.
“We are in a world of information. In an information society, interdependence between one another is very significant and it is these interdependencies that drive human society to progress even faster.”
The CEO expressed admiration for Donald Trump, calling him a “great president” and praising him for his “bold” act of slashing taxes.
He also admitted that the global backlash could affect Huawei’s 2019 performance, but did not seemed fazed by the prospect.
He said that, being a private company, Huawei is not under pressure from stock markets and would consider downscaling to mitigate any struggles.
Huawei’s growth next year will likely be less than 20 per cent, he said – with a revenue of around $125bn (£96.8bn). However, he said that the vendor’s market perception means it will struggle to take advantage of the struggles competitors such as Nokia and Ericsson are experiencing.
“Some countries have decided not to buy equipment from Huawei,” Ren said.
“Therefore, we can shift our focus to better serve countries that welcome Huawei. We can build high-quality networks in those countries to prove that we are trustworthy. Therefore, it’s like a peaceful race from a technical point of view, and I think that’s fair.”