HUAWEI HQ, SHENZHEN, CHINA: A top Huawei executive expressed hope the US would re-establish itself as a global role model for law and justice, but said the vendor wouldn’t compromise in order to do business there, because any fine or operational restrictions would be an unfair penalty for an innocent company.
David Wang, executive director of Huawei’s board (pictured, centre), said the vendor had not “given up [on] the opportunity to operate in the US”, but dismissed the country’s claims it enables the Chinese government to access its servers via backdoors as little more than a political ploy.
The US’ arguments against Huawei which led to it being blacklisted are “not based on logic, facts or evidence” and, while Huawei would like to resolve its issues with the US, he said progress can only occur with a foundation of reason.
In 2018, rival ZTE negotiated the lifting of a similar ban by paying a fine and agreeing to monitoring conditions. But, where the US actually presented evidence against ZTE, Wang noted it has not done so in Huawei’s case.
He said the vendor won’t accept blame for crimes it didn’t commit as a means to an end: “to pay a price for this kind of slandering would be unfair for us”.
Wang said the company wasn’t entirely surprised when the US blacklisted it, noting it had been taking steps since the early 2000s to prepare for such an instance, for example by diversifying its supply chain.
But he said the decision to target a private company without evidence or a trial shattered long-held views among Chinese executives that the US is a country ruled by law.
“In the past, people always said that the situation of US today would be the situation of China tomorrow, that the US is a leader of the world, that it is ruled by law, it has order and procedures, is just and fair, and China should learn from US in this regard. In my career, I also believed all of these ideas. I had no doubt about it at all. But what has happened recently changed my understanding of the world.”
However, the executive remains hopeful such actions will be short lived and the US will return to its status as a “role model in morality and law”.
Wang noted the US decision caused “quite a lot of confusion and harm to the business” as customers try to work through which side is telling the truth. Huawei has put customer care centre stage throughout, generating significant support and trust from its operator, enterprise and consumer customers as a result.
He also highlighted the trade ban’s impact on Huawei’s more than 1,200 US suppliers, which he said have been furiously lobbying the government to resolve its issues..
“The prosperity of the Information and Communication Technology industry depends on a globally integrated ecosystem and supply chain…Using an administrative order to divide the industry into two worlds is harmful to everyone”.
Wang also argued the US government’s attempts to portray Huawei as a mysterious monolith propped up by the Chinese government are misguided. Instead, he painted the company as one which painstakingly built its business over the course of 30 years, despite intense scrutiny both at home and abroad.
“We have been faced with quite a lot of questions everywhere we go. For example, the government here might have questions like ‘does Huawei also have capital from western countries or even the US.’ And then when we go to the overseas regions, people ask, since Huawei is based in China, ‘is there any stake of the Chinese government in your company?’”
In its early days, he said Huawei was the subject of distrust from the Chinese government because it is privately owned and discussed ways in which the country could improve. Thus, it did not receive special support to grow and was not initially a supplier of state-owned operators.
It was only after gradually building its business and reputation in rural regions that Huawei was able to serve China’s large urban markets, he said.
Similarly, Huawei began its international expansion by targeting rural regions in Europe and elsewhere. On the global stage, Wang said Huawei had to contend with the perception that Chinese companies only produced cheap, low-quality products.
He said the company faced “a lot more difficulties than others”, but by 2005 finally began winning contracts with major operators including Vodafone, Orange, Telecom Italia, Deutsche Telekom and BT.
“It was all because of the sweat and tears of our teams in the early stage of development of Huawei that we can be where we are today.”
He believes the trust Huawei earned from customers over the years will be “critical” to helping it overcome its present difficulties and key to its future prospects.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back