Huawei looks up to Apple in terms of privacy: Founder Ren Zhengfei

History will judge whether Huawei adhered to its claims to not harm the interests of customers, its founder has said.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei has said his company would rather shut down than damage the interests of customers for its own gain.

"We will never do anything to harm the interests of our customers," Ren said during a sit down with foreign media on Tuesday, before revealing admiration for Cupertino tech giant Apple.

"Apple is an example we look up to in terms of privacy protection. We will learn from Apple."

The Huawei founder also reiterated the company's line, from as far back as 2013, that it has never received a request from government to spy, and added that should a request be denied, it will be up to Beijing to litigate against the company.

"We will certainly say no to any such request," Ren said. "After writing this quote in your story, maybe 20 or 30 years down the road, if I am still alive, people will consider this quote and check my behaviour against it, as well as the behaviour of our company."

Over the weekend, Huawei in the wake of a Chinese worker and a former Polish security official being arrested in Poland on spying allegations, Warsaw floated the idea of have a Huawei ban across NATO or the EU.

In response, Ren said even if Poland gets its way, it does not matter much to the company.

"Because ... we are not a public company -- we aren't overly concerned about beautiful numbers, or a nice-looking balance sheet," he said.

"If we are not allowed to sell our products in certain markets, we would rather scale down a bit. As long as we can feed our employees, I believe there will always be a future for Huawei."

Over recent months, Huawei's 5G equipment has so far been banned or limited by the US, Australia, and New Zealand, while the UK's BT said it will be stripping Huawei from EE's mobile core.

Ren said that some in the West believe Huawei equipment is "stamped with some sort of ideology", and equated the belief with Ludditism.

"We only provide equipment to telecom operators, and that equipment doesn't have an ideology. It is controlled by telecom operators, not by Huawei," he said.

"So I definitely hope that people do not go back to the old days of the industrial revolution when textile machines were being smashed."

The founder pointed to Huawei's work on 5G and microwave technology as giving the company an advantage that might see bans lifted in the future.

"Huawei is the only company in the world that can integrate 5G base stations with the most advanced microwave technology. With that capability, our 5G base stations don't even need fiber connections," Ren said.

"Instead, they can use superfast microwave to support ultra-wide bandwidth backhauls. This is a compelling solution that makes a lot of economic sense. It works best for sparsely populated rural areas.

"Without fibre, how can they enjoy an 8K resolution TV experience in the future?"

Ren added that if Huawei is not involved, those areas will end up paying "very high prices".

"By then, things might become very different. Those countries may voluntarily approach Huawei and ask Huawei to sell them 5G products rather than banning Huawei from selling 5G systems. We are a company that is customer-centric; therefore I think it is possible that we will sell our equipment to them," he continued.

Last week in Athens, Ericsson and Deutsche Telekom hit a data transmission rate of 40Gbps during a trial of millimetre-wave backhaul over a distance of 1.4 kilometres.

Looking ahead, Ren said he expects Huawei to post $125 billion in revenue for 2019.

In its most recent results for the first half of 2018, Huawei posted $48 billion in revenue.

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