Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei has vehemently denied allegations that his company poses a risk to US intelligence and national security, refuting claims that the smartphone maker has illicit ties to the Chinese government. As Reuters reports, the 68-year-old executive and founder discussed the issue with reporters in New Zealand Thursday, marking the first time in 25 years that he has spoken to the media.
A 2012 report from the US House Intelligence Committee identified both Huawei and ZTE as serious risks to national security, alleging that the companies could use their communications hardware and network technology to feed sensitive information to the Chinese government. Huawei had previously refuted these claims, arguing that they were founded on scant evidence, but the company's secrecy and perceived lack of transparency have done little to allay concerns over its practices.
"Huawei has no connection to the cybersecurity issues the US has encountered in the past, current and future."
"Huawei has no connection to the cybersecurity issues the US has encountered in the past, current and future," Ren said. The company's networking division pulled out of the US market in late April, attributing the move to "geopolitical reasons."
"Huawei equipment is almost non-existent in networks currently running in the US," Ren continued. "We have never sold any key equipment to major US carriers, nor have we sold any equipment to any US government agency."
Prior to Thursday, Ren had never granted an interview to media outlets, directing reporters instead to the articles he has published on Huawei's website. A former member of the People's Liberation Army, Ren joined the Communist Party in 1978, and founded Shenzhen-based Huawei ten years later.
In recent months, the company appears to have made greater efforts to enhance its transparency. Cathy Meng, Huawei's chief financial officer and Ren's daughter, hosted her first ever press conference in January, when she announced the company's annual financial report. She also took the opportunity to discuss allegations of corporate impropriety, noting that American fears would not have any impact on the company's broader strategy.
"We feel that security concerns in the United States are restricted within the country and that won't have an impact on strategic decisions made by other countries," Meng said at the time. "Over the past 20 years, we have not had any incidents based on security issues."