Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei has been doing a round of interviews this past week, responding to his company’s placement on a US ban list. In speaking with Bloomberg, he’s made the assertion that he neither expects nor hopes for a retaliation from the Chinese government against the Trump administration’s ban. A resolute Zhengfei says, “That will not happen, first of all. And second of all, if that happens, I’ll be the first to protest.”
Notoriety swirls around Huawei’s name in the United States, with American security agencies calling it out as a national security threat and urging consumers away from buying Huawei devices. Other allegations of intellectual property and trade secret theft also mar the company’s reputation, even if hard evidence of material wrongdoing is still difficult to find. President Trump recently asserted that the measures taken by his administration are more of a trade negotiation move against China than a real national security response to Huawei.
In such circumstances, it might be reasonable for Huawei’s chief to look to the Chinese government to shield his company, but Zhengfei is taking a different approach. He says Huawei’s current precarious situation is like managing a plane with a hole in its side: it’s not great, but the plane is still up, and the company will need to make appropriate adjustments.