During 26 years at the helm of Chinese tech giant Huawei, founder Ren
Zhengfei has never once agreed to be interviewed by a journalist.
a visit to the company's New Zealand operations, Ren sat down with four
local journalists at a Wellington hotel. The rules were strict no
international media, no photos.
But the meaning was clear. Huawei
is taking steps toward trying to dispel its image as a secretive and
opaque company, and to reassure the world of its good intentions.
telecommunications equipment company has suffered business setbacks in
the U.S. and Australia due to fears it could be a security risk. Last
October, a U.S. congressional panel recommended telephone companies
avoid doing business with it. Huawei issued a pledge not to cooperate
with spying, and argues the U.S. is engaging in trade protectionism.
has grown rapidly in developing countries and is increasing its sales
in Europe. Last year, it reported a $2.4 billion profit on sales of $35
Ren, 68, a former Chinese military engineer, declined
through spokesman Scott Sykes to be interviewed by The Associated Press.
Sykes said Ren felt more comfortable with a small group of journalists
and chose New Zealand to break his silence because he has strong,
positive feelings about the country "in his heart."
interview, Ren, speaking through an interpreter, told reporters his
company's relationship with the Chinese government was no different from
that between companies from other countries and their governments,
according to a report by Fairfax Media.
Ren said he was confident
no member of Huawei's staff would engage in spying, even if asked to by
Chinese security agencies. He said he'd joined the Communist Party in
1978 when it was expected all "exceptional" people would do so.
that time my personal belief was to work hard, dedicate myself or even
sacrifice myself for the benefit of the people," he said, according to
Fairfax Media. "Joining the Communist Party was in line with that
Sykes said the company is trying to tell its story
and dispel misinformation. He said that's particularly important as
Huawei moves from doing business only with other phone companies toward
selling products such as smartphones directly to consumers.
Zealand was the first developed country to sign a free trade agreement
with China in 2008 and has developed close economic ties since then.
employs about 120 people in New Zealand. Last year it won a contract to
work on the country's broadband infrastructure - something it was
denied in neighboring Australia - and this year it won a contract to
help build a mobile network.
Ren owns 1.4 percent of Huawei. Forbes magazine last year estimated his wealth at $475 million.