Ren Zhengfei, the billionaire founder of beleaguered Chinese electronics giant Huawei, sat down with Chinese state media on Tuesday to offer his response to the dramatic turn of events from over the weekend — namely, Google’s move to cut off Huawei phones from Android updates. Which looked to some outsiders as a potentially crippling blow for the company that derives almost half its handset sales from outside China.
Zhengfei, a former engineer in China’s People’s Liberation Army before founding Huawei, tried to quell some of the uncertainty that’s built around the company over the last few days in the interview, portions of which have been reported by the South China Morning Post. The gist of his comments — blame Trump, not Google.
Also, Zhengfei thinks this conflict with the US was going to happen in one form or another eventually. Why? Because everyone at Huawei “sacrificed (the interests of) individuals and families for the sake of an ideal — to stand at the top of the world.
“For this ideal, there will be conflict with the United States sooner or later.”
Zhengfei stressed the themes the company has continued to reiterate during its ongoing standoff with the US. They include that it’s prepared for this moment and has been working on a Plan B mobile OS to replace Android. Also in his remarks Tuesday, Zhengfei touted the company’s 5G prowess and said that politicians in the US have not only underestimated Huawei but that rivals won’t even be able to catch up to the company for another two or three years.
As we and other outlets reported on Sunday, Google moved to largely cut ties with Huawei, which means the company has lost its Android license and that its devices will no longer receive Android updates. Also, Huawei’s future handsets won’t be able to access Google apps as well as the Google Play Store.
That action by Google was a result of the Trump administration’s addition of Huawei to a trade blacklist that restricts its ability to do business with US companies.
The US did seem to back off slightly on Monday from the restrictions it imposed on Huawei. The US Commerce Dept. announced that for the next 90 days, Huawei will be allowed to buy American-made goods, per a Guardian report, “in order to maintain existing networks and provide software updates to existing Huawei handsets.”
Zhengfei, however, seemed to brush off that reprieve in his Tuesday remarks, noting that: “The US 90-day temporary license does not have much impact on us. We are ready.”