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Huawei's founder is ready to share company's 5G tech with a Western buyer

Ren Zhengfei tells The Economist he wants to satisfy national security concerns.


Huawei boss would like to share 5G tech.

Angela Lang/CNET

Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei is willing to share his company's 5G technology with a Western buyer, creating a rival, he told the Economist. He reckons it'd level the playing field in a climate where many countries are nervous about giving the controversial Chinese company access to their next-generation wireless networks.

Ren's deal would let the buyer access Huawei's existing 5G patents, licences, code, technical blueprints and production knowledge for a one-time fee. The buyer would be able to tweak the source code, so neither Huawei nor the Chinese government could even have hypothetical access to any telecoms infrastructure it was used in. That would also leave Huawei free to develop its technology as it pleases.

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Huawei's role in the global 5G market has been thrown into question since the US Commerce Department blacklisted it in May, following an executive order from President Donald Trump that effectively banned it from the country's communications networks. Huawei has been a target of US lawmakers over concerns about its links with the Chinese government and fears that its equipment could be used to spy on other countries and companies.

Ren, who's been on a charm offensive for much of 2019, denied the spying allegations, but the US actively discouraged its European allies not to use Huawei in their 5G networks.

Huawei didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment.

First published at 4:47 a.m. PT.
Updated at 5:35 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.