Briefing: Huawei CEO on unprecedented media tour amid international scrutiny

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China’s Huawei in unprecedented media blitz as it battles heightened scrutiny – Reuters

What happened: In a rare public relations move, Huawei Chief Executive Ren Zhengfei gave four interviews last week, including a 25-minute one-on-one interview with state-controlled China Central Television (CCTV). Before last week, CCTV said that the 74-year-old had given no more than 10 interviews since founding Huawei in 1987. Ren joked that his public relations department had “forced” him on this latest press circuit. Ren spoke to CCTV amid international fears that Chinese authorities could use Huawei products to spy on users, and he made an effort to assuage customers’ fears, saying that it would be Western countries’ loss if they didn’t buy Huawei products.

Why it’s important: Huawei’s sharp shift in press strategy is an attempt to appease increasingly suspicious Western markets. Polish authorities earlier this month arrested a Huawei executive on allegations of espionage, and US President Donald Trump is considering an all-out ban on Huawei products. International markets are proving to be important; Huawei recently announced plans to lay off workers amid the slowing Chinese economy.