Richard Yu, Huawei CEO of its consumer division, may have become notorious for his public outbursts about the US government treatment of the company, but Huawei’s highest executive might not share the same exact same sentiment. Ren Zhengfei, founder and CEO, gave a rare interview with international media and while his defense of the company’s independence from government control is not surprising, his praise of US President Trump might have come as a shock to those following the drama between the US and China, with Huawei caught squarely in between.
Zhengfei called Trump a “great president”, or at least that’s what his translator conveyed. The Huawei exec praised Trump’s bold moves that would be conducive for the development of industries in the country. The praise, however, might not be mutual, one might presume. Because it is, in fact, Zhengfei’s history as a former soldier and a current member of the Community Party that has thrown Huawei under suspicion.
The CEO insists that his political beliefs has nothing to do with the way the company runs its business. When it comes to cybersecurity and privacy, he says that Huawei will always side with its customers. There is currently no Chinese law that requires adding backdoors to software or hardware and neither has Huawei or Zhengfei received any request to provide customer data.
That’s not to say the Chinese government won’t someday. It does have laws that require companies to cooperate and comply with such requests. Should that day come, the Huawei exec says he is prepared to fight against any such request to hand over user data. That, however, has yet to be put to the test.
Zhengfei admits that it will be a tough year for Huawei, especially as the company has been pushed out of 5G network development in countries include the US, Australia, and Japan. He is confident, however, that the company would not suffer the same fate as ZTE, which has nearly collapsed after major sanctions from the US.