Ren Zhengfei, the masterfully elusive CEO of telecoms manufacturer Huawei, has spoken to the press for the first time since founding the company in 1988 amid ongoing accusations his firm poses a cyber threat to the US.
Ren today spoke to a select group of journalists in New Zealand following Huawei’s successful bid to build 4G LTE networks in the country. The CEO’s protracted silence has helped create an air of mystery around his company in the western media, with intrigue fuelled by frequent claims from the US that Huawei’s close links to the Chinese government should be cause for concern. Ren joined the Communist Party of China in 1978 and also worked in the People’s Liberation Army up to 1982.
Huawei has even been linked to direct cyber attacks and acts of cyber espionage on US organisations, but Ren used his public appearance to pour scorn on the stories.
"Huawei has no connection to the cyber-security issues the US has encountered in the past, current and future," said Ren, quoted by Reuters.
"Huawei equipment is almost non-existent in networks currently running in the US. We have never sold any key equipment to major US carriers, nor have we sold any equipment to any US government agency," he added.
Among the assembled press was New Zealand’s Fairfax Media, which reported how Ren also played down the need for concern over Huawei's connections with the state.
“Responding to speculation about Huawei's relations with the Chinese government, he said they were no different to those that might exist between a New Zealand firm and the New Zealand government,” the news agency states.
Ren’s appearance and comments continue Huawei’s concerted drive to defend its track record and improve its reputation outside Asia. Recently, senior vice president Chen Lifang insisted that the company upholds strong polices regarding intellectual property after US officials accused Chinese firms of IP theft.