Huawei founder, Ren Zhengfei, has downplayed the impact of the US executive order that could cripple Huawei’s ability to collaborate with American companies like Google and Qualcomm.
In comments to Chinese media gathered at the company’s Shenzhen headquarters, reported on by the Global Times state newspaper, Ren says the 90-day extension to normal business relations granted by the US won’t make much difference to Huawei due to the company’s existing contingency plans.
“In such a critical moment, I’m grateful to US companies, as they’ve contributed a lot to Huawei’s development and showed their conscientiousness on the matter,” Ren says. “As far as I know, US companies have been making efforts to persuade the US government to let them cooperate with Huawei … We always need US-developed chipsets, and we can’t exclude American products with a narrow mind.”
Ren says that the trade restrictions won’t affect Huawei’s 5G rollout and doesn’t expect anyone to catch up to the company’s technology in the next two to three years, according to Reuters, which quotes him as adding that the US government is “underestimating Huawei’s capabilities.”
Ren, 74, is a famously private individual who almost never gives interviews, but he’s found himself in the limelight more often of late due to the recent escalation of tension between his company and the US — not least the US-ordered arrest of his daughter, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. Ren’s time as an engineer in the People’s Liberation Army before founding Huawei has also contributed to the air of suspicion over the company.
Google revoked Huawei’s Android license on Sunday in compliance with President Trump’s executive order, while Intel and Qualcomm have reportedly instructed employees to stop working with the Chinese telecoms giant.
The moves would prevent Huawei from selling devices running Google apps and the Play Store, as well as building phones with US-made components, but Huawei says it has built an alternative OS and stockpiled hardware for this eventuality.