Huawei Technologies Co. founder Ren Zhengfei shrugged off the threat the U.S. will impose even stricter sanctions against his company, saying he was confident China’s largest tech company can survive further attacks from Washington.
Tighter restrictions on the sale of American technology to the telecommunications giant — something the White House is considering — will not have very significant impact on Huawei, the billionaire chief executive said during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“This year, the U.S. might further escalate its campaign against Huawei but I feel the impact on Huawei’s business would not be very significant,” he said in response to a question about U.S. curbs. “We’re confident we can survive further attacks.”
Huawei has risen to global prominence as the No. 2 smartphone maker and a leader in the fifth-generation wireless technology that will underpin future advances from autonomous cars to robotics. It’s also become a major target for the U.S. as China’s technological prowess grew along with its ambitions, encapsulating growing tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
The Trump administration has pushed allies to ban Huawei equipment from their networks on worries about spying, and blacklisted Huawei along with a clutch of Chinese technology companies in fields from artificial intelligence to surveillance.
Ren initially estimated the May 2019 blacklisting in particular could wipe $30 billion off annual revenue and threaten his company’s very survival, though he tempered that outlook in the ensuing months. Huawei mobilized a massive effort to develop in-house alternatives to American software and circuitry, while U.S. suppliers like Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. found ways to continue supplying Huawei vital components it needed to make its products.
“The U.S. should not be concerned about Huawei and our position in the world,” Ren, looking at ease in a blazer and open shirt, told the panel.