The US cannot crush Huawei, the company’s founder has insisted, as he hit back against criminal indictments levelled at the firm and allegations that it poses a security threat.
Washington has warned allies off using Huawei products in recent weeks. But Ren Zhengfei, whose daughter Meng Wanzhou – a fellow senior Huawei executive – is among those charged by US prosecutors, told the BBC on Monday that the firm would survive the pressure.
“There’s no way the US can crush us. The world cannot leave us because we are more advanced. Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily, we can always scale things down a bit,” Huawei’s founder said.
His daughter was arrested in Vancouver in December at the request of the US and charged with bank and wire fraud to violate American sanctions against Iran.
Ren accused Washington of leading a politically motivated investigation into his firm. “Firstly, I object to what the US has done. This kind of politically motivated act is not acceptable. The US likes to sanction others; whenever there’s an issue, they’ll use such combative methods. We object to this. But now that we’ve gone down this path, we’ll let the courts settle it.”
He conceded that any loss of custom as a result of the US action would be significant. But he insisted: “Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily, we can always downsize and become smaller.”
Last week, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, warned US cooperation could be downgraded in nations that chose to maintain a strong Huawei presence, after Washington had reportedly had been pressing London and other allies not to use the firm’s technology in critical infrastructure.
The US believes insecurities in its systems could allow Chinese intelligence backdoor access to western telecoms networks – something the company denies. UK security chiefs have advised that the risk of using its technology in the new 5G network could be contained.
But the British government could still decide to ban the firm. Ren told the BBC that Huawei “won’t withdraw our investment because of this. We will continue to invest in the UK.” He added: “We still trust in the UK and we hope that the UK will trust us even more. We will invest even more in the UK. Because if the US doesn’t trust us, then we will shift our investment from the US to the UK on an even bigger scale.”
Speaking to the BBC, Ren rejected the suggestion Huawei’s technology could be used by Beijing to spy on western nations. “The Chinese government has already clearly said that it won’t install any backdoors. And we won’t install backdoors either. We’re not going to risk the disgust of our country and of our customers all over the world, because of something like this.
“Our company will never undertake any spying activities. If we have any such actions, then I’ll shut the company down.”