Huawei CEO: We will survive further US sanctions

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Ren Zhengfei, the founder and CEO of Huawei, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday. Photo: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei said on Tuesday that his company was now “more confident” that it could survive further sanctions by the United States.

“This year, the US might further escalate their campaign against Huawei, but I feel the impact on Huawei's business would not be very significant,” Zhengfei said, speaking at the World Economic Forum.

As part of a push to slow China’s increasing economic and political prowess, the US in 2019 imposed an export ban that prevents companies from selling US-made parts to Huawei.

Officials in the US pointed to assessments that suggest Huawei equipment could pose a risk to national security, largely due to the company’s close ties to the Chinese government.

The sanctions “didn’t hurt” Huawei, Zhengfei said, noting that threats from the US had prompted it to spend billions on “Plan Bs.”

“If we had a sense of security from the US, we would not have had the need to come up with our backup plans,” he said.

“We basically withstood the challenges,” Zhengfei told a session at the forum, commonly known as Davos, that focused on the technology arms race.

READ MORE: US steps up pressure on Britain over Huawei 'madness'

The CEO was speaking on a panel with Yuval Noah Harari, the renowned author and thinker.

“This here in 2020 — since we already gained experience from last year and we've got a stronger team — I think we are more confident that we can survive even further attacks.”

Zhengfei also said that the US “should not be overly concerned about Huawei and Huawei’s positioning in the world,” pointing to the influence of the US on the company.

“Huawei used to be an admirer of the United States,” he said, noting that his company was quite successful today in large part because it took lessons from the style of management spearheaded in the US.

“We hired dozens of American consulting firms teaching us how to manage our business operations,” Zhengfei said.

“The entire management system of Huawei is very much like the US. The US should feel proud of it. They have US management systems being exported and implemented extensively at Huawei, contributing to Huawei's development.”