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Huawei's founder hits back at backdoor spying charges, says world can’t do without telecom giant

Huawei's Founder Hits Back At Backdoor Spying Charges, Says Would Can’t Do Without Telecom Giant

PTI | Updated on: 20 Feb 2019, 07:06:38 AM


The founder of Chinese telecom giant Huawei has hit back at US efforts to blacklist the company and denied there are any "backdoors" in its technology to spy for Beijing. Saying defiantly the world cannot do without Huawei and its "more advanced" technology, Ren Zhengfei again dismissed the possibility there could be a way to use the technology without his knowledge.

"It is not possible. Because across our entire organization, we've stressed once and again that we will never do that," he said in an interview with CBS on Tuesday. "If we did have that, with America's advanced technology, they would found that already. So that proves we do not have it." He pledged he would shutter the firm rather than spy for Beijing.

"Our company will never undertake any spying activities. If we have any such actions, then I'll shut the company down," he told the BBC in a separate interview. But Ren, 74, also denounced as "politically motivated" the December arrest of his daughter, Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who is accused of violating US sanctions against Iran and faces an extradition hearing in Canada next month.

"We object to this," he said. "But now that we've gone down this path, we'll let the courts settle it." However, he remained defiant in the face of US pressure. "There's no way the US can crush us," he said in the BBC interview. "The world cannot leave us because we are more advanced." The normally media-shy Huawei founder has been forced to step into the limelight in recent months as the company has come under increasing pressure over espionage concerns and the US-led campaign to persuade other countries to ban its technology.

Last year, security concerns prompted Australia to ban Huawei equipment from its future 5G network. New Zealand has also blocked its largest telecom carrier from using Huawei technology for the next generation network, while the Czech Republic has reportedly excluded it from a 20-million-euro ($22 million) tender to build a tax portal.

The US also has charged Huawei with stealing trade secrets, saying it offered rewards to employees for stealing technology from rivals. Ren shrugged off the growing pressure.

"If the lights go out in the West, the East will still shine," he said. "America doesn't represent the world." "Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily, we can always downsize and become smaller." Signs that US efforts to convince its allies to shun Huawei technology could fall through are growing.

British intelligence concluded that security risks posed by using Huawei's 5G equipment can be managed, The Financial Times reported on Monday. "Other nations can make the argument that if the British are confident of mitigation against national security threats then they can also reassure their publics and the US administration that they are acting in a prudent manner to allow their telecommunications service providers to use Chinese components," an unnamed source told the newspaper.

And New Zealand is in talks to minimise the security risks posed by using Huawei equipment in 5G infrastructure instead of excluding it entirely. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday that New Zealand's security bureau was discussing Huawei security concerns with Spark, the domestic telecoms carrier that had been barred from using the Chinese firm's equipment last year.

She also added that the company had "never" been ruled out from potentially participating in the country's 5G rollout.  

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First Published : 20 Feb 2019, 07:06:01 AM