Business Insider Edition

Huawei's CEO says he would ignore Trump if he tries to negotiate a trade deal: 'If he calls me, I may not answer'

Lisa Eadicicco , Business Insider US
 May 29, 2019, 01:35 PM
XI AN, CHINA - DECEMBER 23: Huawei Technologies Co
Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd CEO Ren Zhengfei. (Photo by Mu Jialiang/VCG via Getty Images)
  • Huawei's founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, says he would "ignore" President Donald Trump and may not answer a phone call from him should he try to negotiate, according to Bloomberg.
  • Ren's answer came in response to a question about the idea that Huawei might be involved in a trade deal between the US and China.
  • Huawei has been placed on a trade blacklist requiring US companies to obtain government permission before doing business with the Chinese tech giant.
  • For more, go to Business Insider SA.

Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei has said he would ignore President Donald Trump and may not answer a phone call from him, according to Bloomberg.

The comments come after the Trump administration placed Huawei, the world's second-largest smartphone maker, on a trade blacklist preventing US companies from working with the Chinese tech giant without obtaining government permission.

Trump recently suggested Huawei could be used as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations, even as he called the company "very dangerous". When asked about the role Huawei might have in a trade deal between the US and China, Ren was dismissive during an interview with Bloomberg Television.

"The US has never bought products from us," he said. "Even if the US wants to buy our products in the future, I may not sell to them. There's no need for negotiation. I will ignore Trump, then with whom can he negotiate? If he calls me, I may not answer."

Huawei's placement on the trade blacklist prompted companies such as Google, Qualcomm, and Intel to suspend operations with the company. Losing Google appears to be an especially critical blow to the firm, considering Google's Android software powers 85% of smartphones worldwide.

Analysts have speculated in recent weeks that these new government requirements could spark a backlash in China against Apple, which accounted for 12% of the country's smartphone market share as of the fourth quarter of 2018, according to Counterpoint Research. But during the same interview with Bloomberg Television, Ren said he would be "the first to protest" if this were the case.

"Apple is the world's leading company," he said. "If there was no Apple, there would be no mobile internet. If there was no Apple to help show us the world, we would not see the beauty of this world."

Ren has said he expects the impact on Huawei's business to be minimal, telling Nikkei Asian Review that growth will slow "only slightly." The company has been preparing for a scenario in which it may not be able to work with US tech companies.

Huawei has been building its own mobile operating system to replace Android and has said it will launch it as soon as next month. Huawei is also continuing to produce its own chips to offset the impact of the recent US sanctions.

When speaking with Bloomberg Television, Ren likened the situation to "a hole in the airplane" when asked about how Huawei planned to continue making products without help from firms like Google, Intel, and Qualcomm. He also said half of the chips Huawei used were from US companies.

"We are working to fix the hole," he said. "But the airplane is still able to fly."

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