By Aaron Pressman and Clay Chandler
February 20, 2019

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This has been a big week for Huawei Technology. Two key U.S. allies, defying pressure from Washington, signaled their willingness include the Chinese giant’s products in high-speed telecommunications networks. Shanghai announced it will use Huawei equipment to roll out the world’s first 5G railway station. And Huawei’s chairman, in a combative interview with the BBC, declared “there’s no way the U.S. can crush us.”

The Financial Times reported Sunday that Britain’s National Cyber Security Center, a leading government intelligence advisory panel, has concluded that the security risks of using Huawei equipment for the United Kingdom’s 5G network are “manageable.” The FT described the panel’s finding as a “serious blow” to U.S. efforts to persuade its global security allies to ban Huawei from their telecommunications systems. And as we mentioned in the newsletter on Tuesday, Germany may include Huawei its 5G network and is looking for ways to amend its laws so that even firms under suspicion could still compete in the German telecom market.

Shanghai’s Hongqiao Railway Station, one of the world’s biggest, busiest traffic hubs, said it will unveil the world’s first 5G railway station later this year, seeking to demonstrate that Huawei’s technologies are ready for immediate installation while those of Western competitors may be still in development.

And not withstanding this flurry of positive developments—or perhaps emboldened by it—Huawei chairman and founder Ren Zhengfei struck a surprisingly defiant tone Tuesday in his interview with the BBC.

The U.S. accounts for only a tiny fraction of Huawei’s total revenues and Ren suggested the company will do just fine, thank you, even if it gets banned by every U.S. ally. “If the lights go out in the West, the East will still shine. And if the North goes dark, there is still the South. America doesn’t represent the world. America only represents a portion of the world.”

In his three decades as Huawei’s helmsman, Ren has granted an audience to Western journalists on only a handful of occasions. His comments to the BBC came as a Chinese delegation arrived in Washington for high-stakes trade negotiations to head off hundreds of billion in U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports—and aren’t likely to endear him or his company to Trump officials.

He also lashed out at the U.S. for seeking to prosecute his daughter, Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, on fraud charges. Since Meng’s Dec. 1 detention in Vancouver, Huawei’s official position has been to take the high road, promising full cooperation and expressing confidence that she will be found innocent. But Ren decried his daughter’s arrest and other indictments against Huawei as unrelated to matters of law. “I object to what the U.S. has done,” he said. “This kind of politically motivated act is not acceptable.”

Clay Chandler
@claychandler
clay.chandler@timeinc.com

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