After the US had long been accusing Huawei of spying on behalf of the Chinese government, its CFO, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada last December at the request of the United States. She's accused of "conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions," including breaking American sanctions on Iran.
In the interview with the British broadcaster, Zhengfei said: "Firstly, I object to what the US has done. This kind of politically motivated act is not acceptable. The US likes to sanction others, whenever there's an issue, they'll use such combative methods. We object to this. But now that we've gone down this path, we'll let the courts settle it."
The US has warned its allies not to use Huawei technology in their 5G networks. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said those that do would make it more difficult for the government to "partner alongside them." But Zhengfei believes “there's no way the US can crush" his firm, and while he concedes that some customers will be lost, Huawei, which is the second-largest smartphone maker in the world, will adapt.
“The world cannot leave us because we are more advanced," he said. "Even if [the US manages to] persuade more countries not to use us temporarily, we can always scale things down a bit."
In a rare interview with the foreign media last month, Zhengfei again denied the spying allegations. He also called Donald Trump “a great president.”
While Australia, New Zealand, and Japan have chosen not to use Huawei’s 5G tech, it looks as if the UK might ignore US warnings. The country’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of GCHQ, has concluded that the risks posed by Huawei’s equipment can be mitigated. This could encourage other European nations to follow suit.
Speaking about the spying claims, Zhengfei said it was something he wouldn’t allow. "The Chinese government has already clearly said that it won't install any backdoors. And we won't install backdoors either. We're not going to risk the disgust of our country and of our customers all over the world, because of something like this.”
"Our company will never undertake any spying activities. If we have any such actions, then I'll shut the company down."