The CEO of Huawei, a Chinese company subject to a US trade ban, says he would be the first to protest at any Chinese retaliation against Apple.
Ren Zhengfei says that neither company should be held responsible for the actions of their country’s governments, that politics and business are separate, and that he would personally refuse to even talk to President Trump …
Ren made the comments about Apple in an interview with Bloomberg in response to reports that the worst-case Chinese response could cost Apple almost a third of its global profits.
Some speculate China might retaliate against the ban of Huawei — which may widen to include some of its most promising AI firms — by in turn barring America’s largest corporations from its own markets. Apple Inc. could relinquish nearly a third of its profit if China banned its products, Goldman Sachs analysts estimate.
Ren said he would object to any [Chinese retaliation against Apple.]
“That will not happen, first of all. And second of all, if that happens, I’ll be the first to protest,” Ren said in the interview. “Apple is my teacher, it’s in the lead. As a student, why go against my teacher? Never.”
That’s an interesting admission by a man who heads a company that has been accused of stealing intellectual property from US companies where networking products are concerned, facing lawsuits from Cisco, Motorola, and T-Mobile. But Ren denies that.
“I stole the American technologies from tomorrow. The U.S. doesn’t even have those technologies,” he said. “We are ahead of the U.S. If we were behind, there would be no need for Trump to strenuously attack us.”
He also rejected the idea that Huawei could be used as a bargaining chip in the Trump-initiated trade war between the US and China – and he made no secret of what he thinks of the current US president.
Ren said he wasn’t a politician. “It’s a big joke,” he scoffed. “How are we related to China-U.S. trade?”
If Trump calls, “I will ignore him, then to whom can he negotiate with? If he calls me, I may not answer. But he doesn’t have my number.”
In fact, Ren pulled no punches in going after a man he labeled “a great president” just months prior. “I see his tweets and think it’s laughable because they’re self-contradictory,” he quipped. “How did he become a master of the art of the deal?”
He also stated that he wasn’t concerned about the loss of trade with the US. Although currently dependent on US chips, Huawei stockpiled these after an earlier ZTE ban, and plans to make its own chips in the future. And selling to the US? Also not a concern, says Ren.
“The U.S. has never bought products from us,” he said, bristling. “Even if the U.S. wants to buy our products in the future, I may not sell to them. There’s no need for a negotiation.”