Huawei has apparently given up the battle to break into the US infrastructure market, at least for now, according to founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei.
In a rare media interview, he continued to deny US claims that Huawei is close to Chinese intelligence agencies or that its kit could be used for spying purposes, but told French journalists: "If Huawei is an obstacle to bilateral trade, then it's really not worth it. That's why we had decided to exit the US market, so as not to be caught in the middle.”
He said Huawei handsets continue to do well in the US and that there could not be security concerns about those, since the firm uses “American software” (Android). "We do not have an operating system. We do things reasonably,” he said.
William Plummer, Huawei's VP of external affairs, told the journal Foreign Policy: “It is true that Huawei has adjusted our priority focus to markets that welcome competition and investment, like Europe,” but a spokesperson told CNET that, while new business might not be chased, “we remain committed to our customers, employees, investments and operations and more than $1 billion in sales in the US, and we stand ready to deliver additional competition and innovative solutions as desired by customers and allowed by authorities."
Meanwhile, not content with raising red flags about Chinese vendors in US contracts, some US senators are even complaining about Huawei's deals in South Korea. US senators Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and Robert Menendez, who leads the Committee on Foreign Relations, sent a letter last week to Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and James Clapper, the director of national intelligence. They expressed concern that Huawei's deal to supply Korea's third cellco, LG U+, created risks for the US-South Korea alliance.
Huawei spokesman Scott Sykes responded angrily, complaining to the Financial Times of “trade protectionism, Sinophobia and discrimination based on where our headquarters are ... Huawei is not China; Huawei is Huawei.”