- Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei said he may be too busy fixing up Huawei to take a call from President Trump, should he ring.
- Ren made the remarks during a wide-ranging discussion with foreign reporters last week. The Financial Times reported that Ren addressed allegations that the firm spies on behalf of China, and discussed how the firm had been impacted by being placed on a US trade blacklist.
- But Trump subsequently and confusingly announced that he was relaxing the trade ban placed on Huawei, and would allow US firms to sell to the Chinese firm.
- Ren has said the ban doesn’t impact on what Huawei is doing either way.
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Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei says he’s so occupied patching up the company he might not have time to take a call from Trump, should the president give him a ring.
Ren made the comments during an 80-minute discussion with foreign reporters at Huawei’s Shenzen headquarters last week. According to the Financial Times, he was highly evasive about whether he would take a call from the president.
Ren said that President Trump was no doubt “very busy,” and and added that he doesn’t speak English. The CEO added that interpreters “don’t know much about politics, while I specialise in electronics.” And he said Trump is “somebody and I am nobody really.”
Finally, Ren added: “I am busy patching up holes [in Huawei’s business] and may not have time to talk.”
In the wide-ranging discussion, Ren spoke about his embattled firm and compared it to an old photograph of a WWII Soviet warplane that has come under heavy fire, yet is still airborne. “I felt that it was quite like us. We are riddled with bullets from the US,” he said.
Huawei has been a focal point in the US-China trade war, with the firm effectively banned from American’s next-generation 5G networks. The Trump administration also placed Huawei on a trade blacklist in May, meaning that US firms can’t sell to the Chinese company without a licence.
There is some confusion as to where the firm stands now.
At the G20 summit in Japan this weekend, Trump announced he was relaxing the ban on US sales to Huawei. Confusingly, he wouldn’t confirm that Huawei was officially off the blacklist, saying only: “We’re allowing them [US firms] to sell.”
According to an internal email seen by Reuters, the Commerce Department has been told to still treat the company as blacklisted.
In an additional statement to the Financial Times, Ren welcomed the apparent relaxation of the ban.
“President Trump’s statements are good for American companies,” he wrote. “Huawei is also willing to continue to buy products from American companies. But we don’t see much impact on what we are currently doing. We will still focus on doing our own job right.”
Ren has previously said he would “ignore” a call from Trump.
“Even if the US wants to buy our products in the future, I may not sell to them. There’s no need for negotiation. I will ignore Trump, then with whom can he negotiate? If he calls me, I may not answer,” Ren told Bloomberg in May.