Huawei founder denies spying for Chinese government

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei has gone public to deny that Huawei is spying on behalf of the Chinese government. It is rare for Ren to speak in public. The last time was in 2016.

Huawei has never spied for the Chinese government and never would, Ren said at a press conference in Shenzhen on Tuesday. “There is no law requiring Chinese companies to install backdoors. I would not harm the interests of myself, my company and my customers in that way.”

The Wall Street Journal notes that while there is no law requiring Chinese espionage, there is one that requires companies doing business in China to hand over customer data if national security is threatened. The definition of such a threat, in turn, is loosely worded. This may also include critical statements about the ruling communist party. This law has been in effect since 2016.

Ren also stated that he misses his daughter, Hauwei’s chief financial officer, but that he is optimistic about the victory of justice. Ren’s daughter was arrested in Canada on December 1 on suspicion of violating a trade embargo with Iran. The US wants her extradited and Huawei is fighting that.

While that case is not directly related to the charges of espionage, the two conflicts run parallel. Yesterday, a Canadian detained in China for drug smuggling was sentenced to death and last weekend a Huawei chief was arrested in Poland on suspicion of espionage. Countries such as Japan, the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand have partially or completely restricted the use of Huawei equipment at key points in their national infrastructure and politics for fear of espionage.