Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, is battling a US-led campaign to persuade American allies to shut the company’s technology out of super-fast 5G networks.
The US government argues Huawei’s products could be exploited by Chinese intelligence services for spying — a claim the company has repeatedly denied.
The US offensive against Huawei has strained relations between Washington and Beijing, and threatens to disrupt the rollout of 5G networks around the world.
“We must protect our critical telecom infrastructure, and America is calling on all our security partners to be vigilant and to reject any enterprise that would compromise the integrity of our communications technology or our national security systems,” US Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday at the Munich Security Conference.
‘America doesn’t represent the world’
Ren, 74, founded Huawei 32 years ago after serving in the Chinese military as an engineer and working in the oil industry. The son of rural school teachers in the mountains of Guizhou province, he has built his company into a global behemoth with annual revenue of more than $100 billion.
Ren, who retains the title of CEO, told the BBC that even if the United States were to persuade more countries to stop using Huawei gear, the company “could just scale things down a bit.”
“If the lights go out in the West, the East will still shine,” he said. “And if the North goes dark, then there is still the South. America doesn’t represent the world.”
Huawei and Meng both deny the charges brought against them last month by US prosecutors.
Ren told the BBC he objects to the US extradition request for his daughter, claiming it’s “politically motivated.”
“They may have thought if they arrested her Huawei will fall, but we didn’t fall,” he said. “We are still moving forward.”
“It’s a close relationship in some aspects and not so close in others,” he said.
“Throughout her childhood, I was in the military, which means that each year I was away for 11 months, spending one month with my family,” he said. “Our connection during her childhood and adolescence was not that strong.”
In later years, he said, he was fighting for the survival of Huawei, regularly working 16-hour days. He admitted that he is not close to any of his three children, but feels indebted to them.
‘We still trust in the UK’
The Chinese government has vigorously defended Huawei as it has come under increasing US pressure and demanded the immediate release of Meng. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Monday that Pence’s comments in Munich were “hypocritical, immoral, unfair and bullying.”
Huawei is already largely shut out of the American telecommunications equipment market, and Ren told the BBC that if the US government continues to oppose investment from the company, it will simply move more business to the United Kingdom.
“We will continue to invest in the UK,” he said. “We still trust in the UK, and we hope that the UK will trust us even more.”