Huawei Founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei. Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images
Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei praised President Trump’s tax policies Tuesday while speaking in a rare public appearance before international media. But he also hinted the U.S. might be scaring away potential investment through actions like the arrest of his daughter and Huawei’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou.
“For President Trump as a person, I still believe he is a great president in the sense that he was bold to slash taxes,
Ren said. “And I think that’s conducive for the development of industries in the United States.”
Ren continued, saying that actions like “the detention of certain individuals” could have negative effects on U.S.-China relations. Meng was arrested in Canada in December. U.S. authorities allege that Meng and Huawei violated Iran sanctions and may have made illegal transactions with HSBC. Authorities in the U.S. have until the end of January to file an extradition request.
“It’s also important to treat countries with potential investors nicely, so that those investments will come,” Ren said. “If countries or companies are getting frightened… by the detention of certain individuals, and then those potential individuals might be scared away, and that is definitely not in the interest of the United States.”
China is also detaining people, however. Since Meng’s arrest, 13 Canadian citizens have been detained by China, though at least eight have been released, according to Reuters.
Huawei has faced increased scrutiny in the U.S., which has advised consumers against buying Huawei-made phones over concerns they could be used to spy. Also,developed markets such as Australia and New Zealand have banned the use of Huawei products to build new faster 5G networks. Ren denied all allegations that Huawei spies for China and said he would refuse requests from the Chinese government if it asked for Huawei’s user data.
During the briefing, Ren said Huawei “might face challenges and difficulties in international markets,” and said that growth during the next year “would be less than 20 percent.” Another Chinese telecom company, ZTE, faced similar headwinds in 2018, but Ren assured the media that “what has happened to ZTE will not happen to Huawei.”
–CNBC’s Kate Fazzini contributed to this report.