Huawei president Ren Zhengfei: We won't spy on US even if Chinese law requires us to, what backdoors?

Ren Zhengfei, founder and CEO of Shenzhen-based Huawei, with China President Xi Jinping [REUTERS, archive]

In his first U.S. TV interview, Ren Zhengfei describes Huawei as “a tomato” crushed between two superpowers.

In his first American television interview, Huawei Technologies president and founder Ren Zhengfei says that even if the Chinese government mandates it by law, the company would not help China spy on the U.S.

In the image above, Zhengfei (right) is seen with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the company's London office. There is a close relationship between Huawei and the state, as required by law.

In recent months, intelligence officials in the United States have raised concerns over Huawei's capacity to backdoor its devices to help China spy on Americans.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is Zhengfei's daughter, was recently arrested in Canada, and the U.S. is trying to extradite her for charges that include wire fraud.

"Absolutely not possible. And also, we never participate in espionage and we do not allow any of our employees to do any act like that. And we absolutely never install backdoors. Even if we were required by Chinese law, we would firmly reject that," Ren told "CBS This Morning" co-host Bianna Golodryga in Beijing.

From CBS News

U.S. officials point to a 2017 Chinese law requiring its companies to assist in national intelligence gathering.

In January, the Department of Justice hit Huawei with 23 criminal charges, alleging bank and wire fraud, violating sanctions on Iran, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

"Huawei and its senior executives repeatedly refused to respect U.S. law and standard international business practices," FBI Director Christopher Wray said.

Huawei's CFO, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada where she's currently under house arrest.

"I think detaining, arresting Miss Meng Wanzhou is politically motivated," Ren said. Meng is also Ren's daughter.

"She's facing extradition to the United States. These are serious charges leveled against her," Golodryga said. "Why do you call these charges politically motivated?"

"I can only answer your question after the court makes its decision," Ren said.

Asked whether he has a statement as to whether or not Huawei violated international sanctions, Ren said, "We still have to wait till the court makes the decision."

"Do you feel that you, your company and your daughter are used as a tool?" Golodryga asked.

"I think both China and the United States are of large scale. And while those powers clash, our company is as small as a tomato. We are not that — we do not carry that big weight, and neither does Miss Meng Wanzhou. And I don't think Meng Wanzhou has anything to do with the clashes between the two powers."

CBS: Huawei founder says he would defy Chinese law on intelligence gathering

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