Ren Zhengfei, the press-shy founder of Chinese electronics giant Huawei, has broken years of silence to tell reporters that he misses his daughter Meng Wanzhou "very much" and to deny any wrongdoing by his company.
Meng is Huawei's chief financial officer, and is currently being detained in Canada at the request of the US. Authorities have accused Huawei of violating US sanctions by doing business with Iran, a charge Meng has denied.
Ren, despite his prominent position, is fairly reclusive. He held a press conference with reporters in Shenzen on Tuesday to deny suggestions that Huawei spied on behalf of the Chinese government. It's the first time he's spoken to international media since 2015.
According to The Financial Times, he said Huawei had "never received any request from any government to provide improper information."
"I still love my country, I support the Communist party, but I will never do anything to harm any country in the world," he said.
According to the Wall Street Journal, he added: "I personally would never harm the interest of my customers and me and my company would not answer to such requests."
He said that justice would prevail in the case of his daughter.
Huawei is best known to consumers as the second-biggest maker of smartphones behind Samsung, but its core business is in providing telecommunications infrastructure to mobile companies around the world.
It is one of the most successful companies in China, but US politicians worry that the telecommunications kit it sells into mobile companies is compromised, allowing the Chinese government to spy on US communications. The company has always denied this.
US president Donald Trump's trade war has escalated general tensions with China, and the arrest of Meng in December 2018 has only compounded the issue.
The case against Meng centres on two companies operating in Iran, currently the subject of US trade sanctions, equipment seller Skycom and shell company Canicula Holdings. Authorities claim that Meng tricked banks into clearing transactions with these two firms by claiming they were independent of Huawei. But Reuters uncovered in documents earlier in January that show Huawei is closely linked to both firms.
And just two days ago, Huawei fired one of its own executives in Poland, who had been charged with spying.
"Huawei is only a sesame seed in the trade conflict between China and the US," Bloomberg reported Ren as saying.
Ren stepped back from day-to-day operations at Huawei in 2011, and the company is now run by executives who change roles every few months. His daughter replaced him as vice chairman in March 2018.
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