Briefing: Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei says company never spied for China

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Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei denies firm poses spying risk–BBC

What happened: In his first interview with foreign media in over three years, Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said that his company has never been asked to spy for his country. There is no Chinese law that requires enterprises to “install mandatory backdoors” to gather intelligence, he said. In any case, the ex-army engineer said, Huawei wouldn’t comply with such requests. His statements in part address the recent arrest of a Huawei executive in Poland on spying charges; the employee has since been fired. Ren also spoke on the arrest and detainment of his daughter and CFO Meng Wanzhou. Meng, who Ren says he “misses very much,” awaits extradition to the US on allegations that she took part in Huawei’s violation of Iran sanctions.

Why it’s important: The telecommunications company’s expansive plans to support 5G networks have been curtailed somewhat by multiple bans. Australia and New Zealand have forbidden Huawei equipment from being used for 5G, while the US has leveled a governmentwide restriction on all Huawei devices. Ren remained calm in the face of these setbacks, praising Trump–who is considering a broader ban–as a “great president,” and saying the company will shift towards “countries that welcome Huawei.”  In firmly upholding Huawei’s innocence, he also maintains the company’s stance of distancing itself from the ex-employee arrested in Poland.