Huawei has started the year with an aggressive PR campaign the reclusive founder Ren Zhengfei has suddenly give a series of interviews with foreign media to deny the company was a threat, while executives have dismissed the US warnings as baseless. Huawei has welcomed media to its tightly-guarded facilities in southern Guangdong province, starting with a tour of a smartphone production line in Dongguan.
The United States says Huawei equipment could be manipulated by China’s Communist government to spy on other countries and disrupt critical communications.
The world is preparing for the advent of ultra-fast 5G telecommunications, an advancement that Huawei was expected to lead and which will allow wide adoption of next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence.
Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, Ren’s daughter, also faces a court hearing on Wednesday in Vancouver on a US extradition request. Two Canadians have been detained in China in suspected retaliation over her arrest.
The US Justice Department accuses Huawei and Meng of circumventing US sanctions against Iran. Two affiliates also have been charged with stealing trade secrets from telecommunications group T-Mobile.
Sceptics, however, say it is highly unlikely that Ren, a former Chinese army engineer, could have steered his company to such heights in such a strategic sector without the support of Beijing, which has clearly stated its goal of becoming the world’s high-tech leader.
Besides its network dominance, Huawei is the world’s second-largest smartphone supplier after Samsung and Apple.