Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei attacked the United States technology security policy that set Washington on a war trail against the Shenzen-based company as the conglomerate found itself in the middle of trade tensions between the White House and Beijing.
In this week’s interview with CNN, Mr. Ren called President Donald Trump close-minded and intolerant, arguing the stateside allegations of Huawei equipment posing a security risk are entirely baseless. The 74-year-old took a dig at the U.S. avoidance of Huawei-made hardware, noting how that practice didn’t make its infrastructure invincible and asserting it’s frivolous for it to tell its allies their networks will be safe if they do the same.
The current administration’s unwillingness to accept Huawei’s investments, i.e. allow its desired expansion into the U.S. wireless segment is standing in the way of “another century of American prosperity,” Mr. Ren said poetically.
The former official of the People’s Liberation Army — a part of his background that makes Western intelligence agencies suspicious of him to this date — insisted that despite being annoyed, he’s not concerned about Washington’s ongoing lobbying efforts aimed at convincing the likes of Canada, Germany, and South Korea to stop buying Huawei’s technologies. He maintained Huawei is not a threat and the U.S. cannot prove otherwise, which is exactly the fact the company aims to bring into the public spotlight with its recently filed lawsuit against the federal government.
At the same time, Mr. Ren claims he’s also not concerned about his daughter, Meng Wanzhou, who’s been under house arrest in Canada since December as the U.S. is trying to extradite her, having already filed charges on the counts of wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracies to commit both. Justice will prevail, or should at least; that’s the abridged version of Mr. Ren’s stance on the matter.
His 47-year-old daughter is believed to be a big miss for the world’s largest manufacturer of telecom equipment. Besides serving as its CFO for around a decade, she’s also one of the four chairpersons of its board as of a year ago. The next hearing in her extradition case is scheduled to take place on May 8. The Canadian Justice Department already confirmed the country’s judicial system can extradite her, i.e. the government won’t stand in its way as it doesn’t believe Ms. Meng is being held for political reasons, which is the bulk of her defense argument, the latest development in one of the most bizarre tech-related legal clashes in recent memory.
The questions (suspiciously) no one’s asking
The arguments MR. Ren laid out in his latest interview are far from novel; both him and many other Huawei officials — most prominently, consumer electronics unit CEO Richard Yu — circulated them in the past, demanding proof of any large-scale wrongdoing that would be indicative of an actual security threat being posed by the company.
The fact that top Huawei executives are consistently being given a platform to spread that corporate message in the West without being directly challenged is a testimony to how tight of a ship its PR operation is and also doesn’t reflect well on the media outlets interviewing them; it doesn’t take a lot of effort for those arguments to fall apart – the first question no one is asking is on what basis can Huawei claim China doesn’t have the authority, ability, or both (it’s both) to compel it to yield data on its foreign customers and actively spy one them under the pretense of national intelligence gathering clearly codified in publicly available laws.
Even if Huawei’s track record with cybersecurity and doing business in a law-abiding manner was stellar since the ’90s — and it isn’t — the U.S. and its allies are looking to put the company in a figurative quarantine due to the potential of what could happen otherwise, not what happened in the past. Not only is that action based on strong precedent in the U.S. but is actually explicitly allowed by a number of laws, all of which make Huawei’s recent lawsuit unlikely to go anywhere.
If Huawei and China, who continue to claim they aren’t directly affiliated despite the former financing an internal committee tasked solely with government-related affairs for many years now, truly believe the opposition they’re facing in the West is a competition issue, they should first allow the likes of Ericsson and Nokia into their backyard, and then complain about unfair practices if European and American nations continue to block their investments. Naturally, that will never happen; China seemingly only acknowledges capitalism and free-market principles when it comes to its exports, whereas imports are off limits.
Then there’s its long history of facing accusations of intellectual-property theft that’s a beast of its own and spans numerous companies, some of which are now even owned by Chinese entities (e.g. Motorola).
Android Headlines reached out to Huawei with some of these and other related questions on several occasions over the course of the last year, starting last spring when it conducted an investigation into the company’s long history of issues with the U.S. government and American companies. Sometimes, it didn’t hear back from the firm; at other times, it was told to expect answers that never arrived.