Huawei founder rejects populism, calling for global cooperation

By Chen Qingqing in Shenzhen Source:Global Times Published: 2019/5/21 22:03:00

Cooperation on global scale remains important

Huawei's founder Ren Zhengfei meets the media in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, on Tuesday Photo: Courtesy of Huawei

Huawei's founder Ren Zhengfei appeared with a confident, rational attitude at a press conference at a time when his company faces an escalating crackdown by the US government. Instead of responding with hate, he insisted that global cooperation is a must for industry growth. 

"No one can push forward innovation and technology development alone," he told a group of Chinese reporters at Huawei's headquarters in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, on Tuesday, just a few hours after the US authorities said they would issue a temporary license to Huawei.

The Chinese company, which is the largest telecoms equipment provider and second-largest smartphone vendor across the globe, has been in the spotlight in recent months. The US-led crackdown on Huawei has been interpreted by some observers as the beginning of a new Cold War between China and the US in advanced technology.

The unilateral stance of Washington toward the Chinese company, along with the intensified conflict over bilateral trade issues, has boosted popular support of Huawei in Chinese society. Some people have called for supporting Huawei by boycotting Apple.

"My family members still prefer iPhones, and I gave them MacBooks as gifts when they go abroad," Ren said. He surprised me as he began to answer our questions by mentioning the company's major rival in the smartphone business. 

The 75-year-old entrepreneur, who previously maintained a low profile, now has to speak regularly to the media as part of the private company's efforts in making itself better understood. 

At the beginning of the interview, Ren spoke highly of Apple, claiming that "supporting Huawei at this difficult time does not necessarily mean you should buy a Huawei smartphone." It is wrong to say those who use Huawei devices are patriotic while those who choose Apple products are not, he said, noting that people should reject populism, as "business has nothing to do with politics." 

At this critical moment when US-based technology giant Google has reportedly decided to follow the US government's order to restrict part of its Android services to Huawei, Ren still insisted on continuing cooperation on a global scale. 

"Don't blame American companies… I'm very grateful for them, as they've contributed a lot to Huawei's development," he said. 

Google's latest decision was widely seen as a move manipulated by US politics, as it risks losing Android market share to prioritize Washington's order. Ren displayed a very peaceful attitude toward these comments. Without elaborating, he said that Huawei is still working the issue out with Google, and praised the US enterprise as "a very responsible company."

Although many of the questions raised on Tuesday morning were related to the US, Ren tried hard to distance himself from a wave of nationalistic anger.

"We want to talk with the US. Who can give me the phone number of Donald Trump?" Ren said, playing down tension in the trade talks, as most of the questions focused on how much influence US sanctions exert on Huawei and whether it could survive this pressure. 

Huawei always needs US chipsets and always needs American partners, he told us during the interview. It reminds me that Huawei, like China, can't go backwards under the influence of irrational sentiment, especially growing anti-US sentiment amid the trade war. 

Ren is not only the head of this Chinese technology giant -  he is also a father of three children. One of them is currently being held by Canadian authorities on behalf of the US. 

Huawei employees told me that Ren is now reading Le Piege Americain (The American Trap), describing the jailing of a former Alstom manager in US. He told us that Meng Wanzhou, his daughter who is being held in Canada, had prepared for it. 

At this moment, I felt both the struggles and strength of a Chinese farther. 

Huawei's success is the result of globalization; as a result, the company will continue advocating for global cooperation. 

Similarly, China achieved an economic miracle in recent decades thanks to its opening-up. Don't shut the door or let current obstacles hinder our development path. We still need time to fully catch up with the world's largest economy in many aspects including fundamental research, science and technology development. 

Newspaper headline: Huawei founder rejects populism


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