The founder of Huawei Technologies said in an interview broadcast Tuesday that the company has never shared information with the Chinese government and denied that his products contain “back doors” that would allow Beijing to spy on customers.
Ren Zhengfei told “CBS This Morning” that the allegations that he is coordinating with Chinese intelligence officials or unwittingly supplying them with eavesdropping tools are not based on facts. Asked whether his company’s hardware has built-in vulnerabilities to enable government spying, perhaps without his knowledge, he said, “It is not possible because across our entire organization we have stressed once and again that we will never do that.”
Ren’s television interview, his first with an American journalist, comes at a tumultuous moment for him and his company, the world’s largest communications equipment manufacturer.
Last month, the Justice Department announced criminal charges against Huawei and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who is Ren’s daughter.
Filed in New York City, the 13-count indictment includes allegations of bank and wire fraud. Prosecutors have also charged Huwaei with violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and conspiring to obstruct justice in interfering with the investigation.
U.S. officials have been investigating whether Huawei violated the law since 2016. In December, as part of the probe, Canadian officials arrested Meng on a U.S. warrant. If found guilty on all counts, Meng could face up to 30 years in prison.
Huawei has denied any wrongdoing. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The high-profile arrest and indictment has highlighted the ongoing economic dispute between the Trump administration and China, and has probably heightened diplomatic tensions as Beijing and Washington attempt to end the trade battle.
In an interview with the BBC on Monday, Ren objected to the arrest of his daughter and described the U.S.’s legal action against her as politically motivated.
He also said Huawei would continue to grow abroad and invest in its products despite being targeted by American prosecutors.
“There’s no way the U.S. can crush us,” he said, pointing to other markets that rely on Huawei’s hardware and what he described as the company’s superior products. “America doesn’t represent the world.”