Huawei Founder Ren Zhengfei Comments on Meng Wangzhou Incident and Canadian Strategy

In a recent wide-ranging conversation with The Globe’s Nathan VanderKlippe, Huawei Founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei commented on his daughter’s arrest and Huawei’s strategy more broadly. It has been just over one year since Huawei’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada and extradited to the US. Ren said that his initial response to the incident was that there was some sort of unfortunate misunderstanding. He said he did not foresee this event as a first ploy by the United States to attack Huawei.

In fact, during the interview, Ren said that the United States was intent on “eliminating Huawei”. Despite the incident involving his daughter, Ren maintains a positive attitude towards Canada. He talked about how given the increasingly restrictive visa situation for scientists in the United States, Canada has a great opportunity to attract talent and augment its AI sector. He cited Canada’s strategic directive to make AI a national priority, and said that the company should take at advantage of the United States’ withdrawal.

Specifically, Ren said that Huawei will move its North American R&D center from the United States to Canada, while fully supporting the development of Canada’s 5G infrastructure. Currently, the number of Huawei employees in Canada has expanded to 1,200, of which two thirds are R&D personnel, and the company will continue to increase investment in the future. Ren asserted that whether Canada chooses Huawei or another provider such as Ericsson for their 5G networks, Huawei’s investment in the country will not be impacted.

As a result of the disruptions on Huawei’s supply chain caused by the US blacklisting, Ren affirmed that by next year, Huawei will be completely independent of US components.

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