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Elham AbolFateh

Science & Technology

Huawei founder Ren defiant in face of existential threat

Monday 27/May/2019 - 01:49 PM
Huawei Technologies
Huawei Technologies Co.
Edited by Hassnein Tayea
Huawei Technologies Co. founder Ren Zhengfei struck a defiant tone in the face of U.S. sanctions that threaten his company’s very survival، According to the Japan News.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television، the billionaire founder of China’s largest technology company conceded that Trump administration export curbs will cut into a two-year lead Huawei had painstakingly built over rivals like Ericsson AB and Nokia Oyj. But the company will either ramp up its own chip supply or find alternatives to keep its edge in smartphones and 5G.

The United States on May 17 blacklisted Huawei — which it accuses of aiding Beijing in espionage — and cut it off from the U.S. software and components it needs to make its products. The ban hamstrings the world’s largest provider of networking gear and No. 2 smartphone vendor، just as it was preparing to vault to the forefront of global technology.

It’s rocking chipmakers from America to Europe as the global supply chain comes under threat. The ban could also disrupt the rollout of 5G wireless globally، undermining a standard that’s touted as the foundation of everything from autonomous cars to robot surgery.

Ren maintained Huawei had the capability to devise its own solutions — given time. It’s been designing its own chips for years، which it now uses in many of its own smartphones. It’s even developing its own operating software to run phones and servers. The CEO however deflected questions about how quickly Huawei can ramp up those internal replacement endeavors. Failure could dent the fast-growing consumer business and even kill emergent efforts such as cloud servers.

“That depends on how fast our repairmen are able to fix the plane،” said Ren، who appeared at ease in a white jacket over a pink shirt، making light of questions about his company’s plight. “No matter what materials they use، be it metal، cloth or paper، the aim is to keep the plane in the sky.”

Ren has gone from recluse to media maven in the span of months as he fights to save the $100 billion company he founded.


“This may bring one of China’s national champions to its knees،’’ said Chris Lane، an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. “If China shut down all the Apple plants، the United States would get very upset. This is a similar kind of move.”

Ren has had much to deal with of late. His company finds itself increasingly under fire، besieged by a U.S. effort to get key allies to ban its equipment. The U.S. assault helped crystallize fears about Huawei’s growing clout in areas from wireless infrastructure and semiconductors to consumer gadgets.

Last week، U.S. President Donald Trump said Huawei could become part of a U.S-Chinese trade deal، stirring speculation it was a bargaining chip in sensitive negotiations. But Ren said he wasn’t a politician. “It’s a big joke،” he scoffed. “How are we related to China-U.S. trade?”

If Trump calls، “I will ignore him، then to whom can he negotiate with? If he calls me، I may not answer. But he doesn’t have my number.”

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