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Huawei founder reportedly breaks silence to deny spying, praise Trump

The Chinese company is "only a sesame seed" in the country's trade war with the US, Ren Zhengfei told reporters.

Huawei poster on a column outside an office building

The last time Huawei's founder spoke to foreign reporters was back in 2015.

Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In his first public statements to foreign media since 2015, Huawei's reclusive founder spoke highly of President Donald Trump and denied allegations that his company aided in Chinese spying.

Ren Zhengfei told reporters that his company, the world's second highest-selling phone manufacturer, doesn't have regular contact with the Chinese government and that it would deny requests for sensitive information about its clients, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

"I love my country, I support the Communist Party. But I will not do anything to harm the world," the billionaire said in a roundtable interview at his company's Shenzhen campus. "I don't see a close connection between my personal political beliefs and the businesses of Huawei."

Ren also downplayed the company's role in the trade war between China and the US, saying "Huawei is only a sesame seed" in that conflict, and praised Trump as "a great president" for his pro-business policies.

"He dares to massively cut taxes, which will benefit business," he said. "But you have to treat well the companies and countries so that they are willing to invest in the US and the government will be able to collect enough tax."

Ren's comments come in the wake of his eldest daughter Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's finance chief, being arrested in Canada in December at the request of the US over alleged Iran sanctions violations. She's since been released on bail, and Ren noted that he'd wait to see if Trump would intervene on her behalf, according to Bloomberg.

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Huawei has a troubled relationship with the US, despite its status in the global smartphone market. It can't sell many of its devices in the country, and Washington has issued repeated security warnings about its equipment. Last week, the company pushed a limited selection of laptops and tablets at CES, in an effort to gain notice for its products in the US.

The company also reportedly fired its sales director for public sector clients in Poland, Wang Weijing, after he and a former Polish security agent were arrested last week on espionage charges.

Several countries -- including Britain, Australia and New Zealand -- are avoiding the use of Huawei equipment in their 5G networks following the US warnings, which is a major loss for the company

"I'm a strong supporter of the world building a unified technology standard," Ren told reporters.

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