Huawei ‘improving and growing’ despite US, defiant Ren tells BBC interview

19 February 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Cover

Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei has said pressure from the US has made the company improve its products.

In a TV interview with Karishma Vaswani, the BBC’s Asia business correspondent, Ren (pictured, from the BBC interview) said: “Because the US keeps targeting us and finding fault with us, it has forced us to improve our products and services.”

He added: “If the lights go out in the West, the East will still shine., and if the North goes dark, there is still the South. America doesn’t represent the world.”

The interview was the first video interview the Huawei founder has given since the controversy about the company exploded – with the US filing charges against it and the CFO, Meng Wanzhou, who is Ren’s daughter. She is on bail in Canada, facing an attempt by the US to extradite her.

“There’s no way the US can crush us,” Ren told Vaswani in the interview, recorded at Huawei’s headquarters in southern China. “The world needs Huawei, because we are more advanced. Even if  they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily, we could just scale things down a bit.”

He suggested that, if Huawei is forced out of the US, where it has offices in California and Texas, it may expand in the UK. “We will continue to invest in the UK,” said Ren. “We still trust in the UK and we hope the UK will trust us even more. We will invest even more in the UK. Because if the US doesn’t trust us we will shift our investment from the US to the UK, on an even bigger scale.”

The interview was the latest move by Huawei to increase its public profile in the wake of the US controversy. Back in December 2018 Huawei executives told Capacity that Ren never gives media interview. In January he spoke to a roundtable of western journalists, though that encounter was not videoed. Now he has given a TV interview to the BBC for a news channel that is broadcast around the world.

Ren said that the arrest of Meng was “politically motivated”. The charges put by the US relate to alleged attempts to trade with Iran via a front company registered in Hong Kong.

“This kind of politically motivated act is not acceptable,” he said. “The US likes to sanction others whenever there’s an issue. They’ll use such methods. We object to this.”

But he said that Meng’s arrest had “no impact on Huawei’s business. … In fact we’re growing even faster. … They may have thought, if they’ve arrested her, Huawei would fall. But we didn’t fall. We are still moving forward.”

Huawei “has established processes and procedures, and no longer relies on any one person. Even if I go myself one day, this company won’t change its trajectory forward,” Ren told Vaswani.

The interview was conducted for a special edition of Asia’s Tech Titans, due to be broadcast on the BBC World News channel at the weekend.