The Trump administration has effectively banned Huawei from doing business in the United States, blocking the Chinese smartphone maker from receiving shipments or services from U.S. companies amid a trade conflict between the two nations. In some of his first public comments since the ban took effect, Ren downplayed the possibility that China could retaliate by imposing similar limits on Apple.
“That will not happen, first of all. And second of all, if that happens, I’ll be the first to protest,” Ren told Bloomberg. “Apple is my teacher, it’s in the lead. As a student, why go against my teacher? Never.”
Huawei generated more than $100 billion in revenue in 2018 alone and is the world’s second-largest smartphone maker behind Samsung. U.S. officials have accused the company of enabling Beijing’s espionage efforts by providing the government with backdoor access to its devices.
Several U.S. chipmakers, including Intel and Qualcomm, have suspended shipments to Huawei, while Google has banned Ren’s company from using its Android operating system on future devices. Microsoft has pulled Huawei laptops from its online store.
While Huawei is in the process of developing its own operating system and chips to continue operations despite the ban, Ren declined to say how quickly the company would be able to implement the fixes.
“That depends on how fast our repairmen are able to fix the plane,” Ren said. “No matter what materials they use, be it metal, cloth or paper, the aim is to keep the plane in the sky.”
President Trump has imposed 25 percent tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese goods, in what the administration says is an effort to crack down on intellectual property theft and achieve equitable trading terms with China. Beijing has imposed retaliatory tariffs.
Trump has hinted that the limits on Huawei could be up for negotiation as part of a larger trade deal.
Ren dismissed the notion that the Huawei ban is a negotiating tactic in US-China trade talks. He also had harsh words for Trump.
“I see his tweets and think it’s laughable because they’re self-contradictory,” he said. “How did he become a master of the art of the deal?”