Huawei’s Founder Vows To Keep Making Smartphones in Biden Era
(Bloomberg) -- Huawei Technologies Co.’s billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei is growing increasingly confident of weathering U.S. sanctions, pledging China’s largest tech company will keep making smartphones while engaging with the Biden administration.
Ren is pinning his hopes on the new American President adopting a more accommodating policy toward the networking giant than his predecessor Donald Trump, who devastated Huawei’s smartphone division by restricting its access to chipmaking and American software and circuitry. On Tuesday, the founder urged Biden to allow Huawei to again buy the U.S. equipment it needs to make its devices and 5G gear.
“We hope the new U.S. administration would have an open policy for the benefit of American firms and the economic development of the United States,” Ren told reporters while on a tour of the city of Taiyuan in northern Shanxi province. “We still hope that we can buy large volumes of American materials, components and equipment so that we can all benefit from China’s growth,” he said in comments confirmed by a Huawei spokesman.
Huawei in 2019 found itself thrust into the heart of U.S.-Chinese tensions after the White House labeled it a national security threat and imposed a series of trading restrictions. Those curbs curtailed its growth and forced the company to sell off its low-end Honor devices arm last year, hamstringing a smartphones business that briefly surpassed Apple Inc.’s. Despite that, Huawei grew sales and net profit last year, Ren said Tuesday without elaborating.
It’s unclear to what extent Biden will alter Washington’s approach to Huawei. Biden’s nominee for Commerce secretary, Gina Raimondo, said during her Senate confirmation process she knew of “no reason” why Trump-era curbs shouldn’t continue.
Under Trump, the U.S. made headway in pressing allies to steer clear of Huawei equipment for 5G mobile networks. Separately, the U.S. is seeking to extradite a high-ranking Huawei executive from Canada over allegations of sanctions violations. To blunt the impact, Huawei has begun shifting its focus to enterprise-related businesses.
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