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Huawei’s CEO wants his employees to watch a TV show about the Chinese Communist Party

Published Jun 29th, 2021 10:57AM EDT
Chinese Communist Party

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Ahead of the 100th anniversary of China’s ruling Communist Party on July 1, Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei used the opportunity of a company forum to answer questions from some of the employees of his embattled Chinese technology giant, which remains blacklisted by the US. The once-reclusive businessman tends to make headlines pretty much anytime he speaks in public or in private. But this time, his remarks not only offered a mix of philosophy and corporate statesmanship. They also spread a bit of propaganda that China’s political leadership would surely have approved of. Especially during this milestone moment for the nation.

Huawei and its billionaire founder once recoiled at the notion that the company is too entangled with China’s totalitarian regime. The Trump administration, remember, pushed that idea — hard. Whether it’s true or not, that’s why US officials decided the company is too radioactive to do business with. Huawei, of course, insists that it’s independent and not some kind of corporate handmaiden of China’s government. Zhengfei even went so far as to invite President Trump for a visit at one point, perhaps as an olive branch of sorts. Nevertheless, Zhengfei has said in the past the US took the actions that it did because Huawei stands “at the top of the world.” And now? Zhengfei is more or less carrying the water of China’s Communist Party itself.

The 100th anniversary of China’s Communist Party

At one point during his remarks to employees, Zhengfei recommended that they all watch a new Chinese TV drama, Awakening Age. According to a description from the Global Times, a newspaper published by the Chinese Communist Party, the drama is pure propaganda, created to indoctrinate the country’s citizens about its history. The show is a dramatization of the Communist Party’s establishment in China back in 1921. And the TV program, per the Global Times, has supposedly “played a positive role in educating young people about China’s revolutionary history.”

“Everyone must watch such an important TV show,” Zhengfei told employees.

This is a prime example of why the US took a hostile stance toward Huawei under the Trump administration. Here’s the company founder himself, helping support the country’s leadership with its political messaging. It’s a stretch, in other words, to feign independence when the CEO prods employees to consume government propaganda.

Zhengfei remains defiant, even while insisting that his company must participate in the global marketplace. He says the alternative, of focusing instead just on China, won’t help the company in the long run.

Among his responses to employees, during the recent forum:

  • “We cannot be closed. We must stay open.”
  • “Just because the US is trying to suppress us does not mean we do not recognize it as a teacher.”
  • “When there are difficulties, that means we have done something others cannot and proves our value.”
Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.