Ren Zhengfei spoke to reporters for the first time since founding Huawei in 1988
Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei denied allegations that its products represent a threat to U.S. national security. Speaking directly with the press for the first time today, Ren also denied any illicit ties to the Chinese government, a central part of U.S. concerns over the Chinese communications giant, according to reports from Reuters.
Last October a damning Congressional report concluded that Huawei and local competitor ZTE "cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems." The panel behind the report also singled out Huawei for criticism, saying it'd received evidence of corruption, bribery and copyright infringement at the firm from industry experts and Huawei employees.
But speaking with reporters in New Zealand, where the company has just won 4G and high-speed broadband contracts, the Huawei boss said it "has no connection to the cyber-security issues the U.S. has encountered in the past, current and future." He added that the company's current U.S. presence was almost nonexistent, and denied any "improper links" to the Chinese government.
Ren himself served in the Chinese People's Liberation Army prior to founding Huawei, and joined the Communist Party of China in 1982. He was recently elected to the party's 12th National Congress as a representative of private entrepreneurs.
Today's news conference comes as Huawei looks to become more transparent. Before this first press meeting with Ren, his daughter, Huawei CFO Cathy Meng, held her first press conference back in January.
Huawei had been looking to rapidly expand into the U.S. market, particularly where smartphones are concerned, however national security concerns have stalled these efforts. Similarly, the company has recently been blocked from supplying equipment for government networks in Australia and Canada.