Huawei CEO’s first remarks on Biden: Urges “mutual success”

Ren Zhengfei, Huawei CEO, speaks with CNBC at Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China.

Justin Solomon | CNBC

TAIYUAN, China – Ren Zhengfei, Huawei CEO, said he would welcome a call from US President Joe Biden in his first public remarks since the change of government in Washington.

Ren hopes for a gentler approach to the Chinese telecommunications giant, which he founded after around two years of pressure from Washington. Huawei has been classified as a national security threat by the Trump administration, which has taken measures to restrict the company’s access to critical software and components.

Washington claimed Huawei’s network devices could be used to spy on Americans. Huawei has repeatedly denied these claims.

“I would welcome such phone calls, and the message is about common development and mutual success,” Ren said in Chinese comments translated by an official interpreter during a briefing with reporters. “The US wants economic growth and China also wants economic growth.”

We continue to hope that we can purchase both high volume American material components and equipment so that we can all benefit from China’s growth.

“Overcome the Difficulties”

Ren was optimistic, saying that his confidence in “Huawei’s viability” had “increased” over the past year.

It did so despite the difficulties in their smartphone business, as well as in some countries in the past 12 months, such as the UK, which kept Huawei from the 5G market.

“We have more resources to overcome difficulties,” said Ren.

Huawei also posted positive sales and net profit growth for 2020, the CEO said without disclosing any specific numbers.

Revenue for 2019 was 858.8 billion yuan ($ 122.97 billion) while net income was 62.7 billion yuan.

Huawei will “never” sell the smartphone business

Questions about the future of Huawei’s smartphone business have gotten around as the company has been unable to access chips made by TSMC. These cutting edge chips were part of the reason Huawei rose to become one of the largest smartphone players in the world.

In response, Huawei sold its budget smartphone brand Honor in November. This would allow the device in question to survive and re-access components. Reuters reported in January that Huawei is also in talks to sell its premium Mate and P smartphones.

But Ren said Huawei would “never” sell its smartphone business. He also said Huawei wouldn’t invest in chip technology.

– Correction: This article has been updated to accurately reflect that Huawei’s 2019 revenue totaled $ 122.97 billion. An earlier version of this story gave the wrong year.

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