Huawei Founder Says He Would Be Against Chinese Retaliation on Apple

Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei on Sunday told Bloomberg he would oppose any effort by China to bar Apple from doing business in the country, even as his company faces a similar ban in the United States.

When asked during the interview if China should heed calls to retaliate against the iPhone maker, Ren said that he would “protest” against any such step even if it were to be taken by Beijing.

“That (Chinese retaliation against Apple) 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 published on Monday (May 27) by Bloomberg.

“Apple is my teacher. It is advancing in front of us. As a student, why should I oppose my teacher? I would never do that,” he added.

Zhengfei, however, conceded that export curbs from the Trump administration will cut into a two-year lead built by Huawei over its competitors, but added that the company will either ramp up its chip supply or find alternatives to stay ahead in smartphones and 5G.

“We might miss our expected growth target, but we are still growing. Being able to grow in the toughest battle environment, that just reflects how great we are,” Ren said of Huawei’s consumer division of the business that depends on US chips and software.

The US Department of Commerce placed Huawei on a trade blacklist earlier this month, effectively barring it from conducting business with American companies. The ban forced suppliers like Google and ARM to cut off ties with the Chinese company. Top carriers in the UK and Japan are also delaying the launch of Huawei smartphones.

The US restrictions threaten Huawei’s position as the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker and number two smartphone brand.

Asked how long the crisis will last for Huawei, Ren said the question should be directed at Trump instead.

“Blame should be directed at US politicians, not companies,” he said.