Premium Huawei founder denies that the company is spying for China

Ren Zhengfei, president of Huawei Technologies Co., gestures as he speaks during a session on Day Two of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. World leaders, influential executives, bankers and policy makers attend the 45th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Jan. 21-24. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ren Zhengfei, the founder of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, rejected claims that his company is being used by the Chinese government to spy on users.

"No law in China requires any companies to install mandatory backdoors [malware that provides access to, and control of, any device without the user's knowledge], and Huawei has never received any request from any government to provide improper information," said Ren Zhengfei.

During a rare press conference with foreign journalists at the company's headquarters in Shenzhen (southern China), Ren said that "Huawei serves 3 billion users in 170 countries and has a good security record."

Ren added that the company is "committed" to its customers on privacy protection issues.

The Huawei president said that although he loves his country and supports the Communist Party, he "would never do anything to harm any country or individual."

The 74-year-old businessman also said he misses his daughter Meng Wanzhou, the company's chief financial officer.

Meng was detained in Vancouver at the request of US authorities, which claim that Huawei has sold American products to Iran and other countries targeted by Washington sanctions.

Meng was later released on bail by a Canadian court, and is waiting for the US authorities to file a formal extradition request.

"As a Chinese citizen, I appreciate the consular protection that the Chinese government has offered to protect [Meng's] rights and interests. I believe that the legal system in Canada and the US is open and fair, and will come to an impartial conclusion," Ren said.

Regarding Huawei's future, Ren acknowledged that the company will have to lower its "expectations," as "it is not welcome in some markets."

Australia and New Zealand have banned Huawei's fifth-generation (5G) networks, claiming national security reasons, after the United States and Taiwan - which have imposed further restrictions on the company - adopted the same measure.

Japan, whose cybersecurity agency has classified the Chinese telecommunications giant as a "high-risk" company, has blocked government agencies from buying Huawei equipment.

Established in 1987 by former Chinese military engineer Ren Zhenfei, Huawei is now the largest network equipment manufacturer in the world. The company has branches in Lisbon, where it also has a center for innovation and experimentation.

According to the AICEP (Portuguese Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade), the Chinese company has invested €40 million in Portugal since 2004.

During Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent visit to Lisbon, Altice and Huawei signed an agreement for the development of 5G technology in Portugal - although the European Union has expressed some "concerns" over the company and other Chinese technology firms, due to the security risks they pose.

5G wireless networks are meant to connect autonomous cars, automated factories, medical equipment and power plants, and therefore several governments are now perceiving telecommunication networks as strategic national security assets.

Huawei is also the first Chinese global player in the technology industry, making the company an important political asset as Beijing tries to turn the country's firms into relevant players in high value-added industries such as artificial intelligence, renewable energy, robotics, and electric cars.

The company employs 180,000 people and its sales in 2018 exceeded $100 billion.