Huawei exec ‘acted alone’ as Polish minister calls for joint action

14 January 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Poland is calling for the European Union and Nato to develop a joint position on Huawei following the arrest of a company executive and an Orange executive last week.

The country’s domestic counterintelligence agency, ABW, arrested the two last week after a spying investigation.

Since then Huawei has fired its executive, now officially named as Wang Weijing, saying his “alleged actions have no relation to the company”, and saying they brought the company into disrepute.

At the same time the Reuters news agency is reporting that ABW has accepted that Wang was working alone and that his actions “were not linked directly to Huawei”.

Polish-speaking Wang was an official at the Chinese consulate in Gdańsk from 2006 until early 2011, after which he worked for Huawei in public relations and then public-sector sales in Warsaw. He was, until his dismissal, sales director, public sector, at Huawei Enterprise Poland.

However last week’s events are bound to increase the scrutiny of Huawei not just in Europe – where the company is a major supplier to BT, Deutsche Telekom and the Orange group – but elsewhere in the world.

Joachim Brudziński, internal affairs minister in the Polish government, said at the weekend that a discussion was needed on whether to exclude Huawei from some markets.

He told radio station RMF FM: “There are concerns about Huawei within Nato as well. It would make most sense to have a joint stance, among EU member states and Nato members.”

The Orange Polska executive, named only as Piotr D, was previously employed by the same ABW agency that carried out the arrests. In the agency, he was deputy head of the Department of Teleinformatic Security, said TV news channel TVP Info last week.

Meanwhile Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, spoke in a rare round table with international media in Shenzhen, to protest that a US embargo would not harm it.

He said he expected Huawei’s revenue to pass $125 million this year, but said the company could scale down if necessary.

“Huawei is not a public company, we don’t need a beautiful earnings report. If they don’t want Huawei to be in some markets, we can scale down a bit. As long as we can survive and feed our employees, there’s a future for us.”

Ren denied that there was any security problem with Huawei’s network equipment. “I’m a strong supporter of the world building a unified technology standard. Huawei firmly stands on the side of customers when it comes to cyber security and privacy,” he said. “I will not do anything to harm the world.”

He also downplayed any role that Huawei might have in the wider US-China trade dispute. “Huawei is only a sesame seed in the trade conflict between China and the US,” he said, adding praise for President Donald Trump. “Trump is a great president. He dares to massively cut taxes, which will benefit business.”

Ren is the father of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Canada in December on US charges related to breaking trade embargoes with Iran and Syria. Her next court appearance is in early February.