Huawei founder says daughter's arrest was 'politically motivated'

Ren Zhengfei also says his company is "as small as a tomato" in the tension between the US and China.

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Ren Zhengfei, Huawei's founder and president

Ren Zhengfei, Huawei's founder and president, denies allegations that his company's products were being used to spy for China.

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Huawei founder and president Ren Zhengfei says that his daughter's  December arrest was "politically motivated."

The boss of the scandal-scarred Chinese telecom company told CBS This Morning, in an interview that aired Wednesday, that he couldn't elaborate on the contention until "after the court makes its decision," echoing a point he made to the BBC earlier this week. (Note: CNET and CBS This Morning are both part of CBS.)

Ren's daughter, Meng Wanzhou, is Huawei's CFO. She was arrested in Canada at the request of the US over alleged violation of Iran sanctions. A court will decide whether she can be extradited to the United States.

Huawei is a leading provider of networking and telecommunications equipment, as well as the world's second-largest phone manufacturer by volume. It has struggled to make a dent in the US, partly because of allegations by the US government that Huawei may pose an espionage threat. Those worries come at the same time that the US and China are engaged in a standoff over tariffs.

Ren downplayed his company's importance in the trade tensions between China and the US.

"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," Ren said.

"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."

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Ren also dismissed allegations that his company's products were being used to spy for China through built-in backdoors allowing intelligence agents to access data, the main reason for a US ban on Huawei networking equipment.

"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," he said. "And we absolutely never install backdoors. Even if we were required by Chinese law, we would firmly reject that."

When the interview turned to the topic of Tappy, a T-Mobile robot his company was accused of dismembering in order to steal its secrets, Ren was adamant that Huawei would "never reward any employee for improper actions."

"Definitely I punish employees for improper behavior, because if you don't do that, a company of this scale, how can we survive?" he said. "And our company highly respects intellectual property."

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