Huawei founder says US treats 5G like 'military' tech

"5G is not an atomic bomb," says Ren Zhengfei.

Sean Keane Former Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
Expertise Culture, Video Games, Breaking News
Sean Keane
2 min read
Huawei 5G

Huawei's Ren Zhengfei spoke about the company's role in 5G in a Thursday interview.

VCG via Getty Images

Huawei boss Ren Zhengfei is downplaying the idea that there's danger in his company's taking a lead role as 5G networks become a widespread reality.

The founder and president of the Chinese telecom giant was referring to the hard-line stance by the US -- its long-running recommendation that US companies avoid Huawei networking equipment and its warning to its allies not to use the company's technology in their own 5G rollouts. His comments came Thursday in the second part of an interview with CBS This Morning. (Note: CNET and CBS This Morning are both part of CBS.)

"They've been regarding 5G as the technology at the same level of the -- some other military equipment. 5G is not an atomic bomb," he said.

That new generation of wireless networking technology will bring much faster connections and reduced lag time, boding well for advances in areas like self-driving cars and telemedicine. The first 5G smartphones will be arriving in the coming months.

Ren was ready to look beyond 5G to emphasize his point.

"Now we are rolling out 5G, and soon we'll welcome 6G. And in the future, I said there will be new equipment that is suitable for the United States."

Watch this: FBI director slams Huawei and ZTE phones

Huawei is the world's No. 1 telecom equipment supplier and No. 2 smartphone maker, but has struggled in the US due to the government's guidance and allegations that it's involved in Chinese espionage -- something that Ren denied in the previous part of the CBS This Morning interview, which aired Wednesday.

Reports suggest that President Donald Trump will ban Chinese networking equipment with an executive order, while Vice President Mike Pence spoke out against the company at the Munich Security Conference this week.

However, Ren seemed pleased that the Trump administration was promoting 5G and his company.

"First of all, I would like to thank them because they are great figures," he said. "5G was not known by common people. But now, these great figures are all talking about 5G. ... And we're becoming more influential and getting more contracts."

Three cameras and a bonkers charging trick? Meet the Huawei Mate 20 Pro

See all photos

Despite the possibility of his company being banned from doing business in the US, Ren echoed his previous compliments about Trump.

"I think he is a great president because in a very short period of time, he was able to reduce the tax rate," he said, joking that Huawei wasn't very successful in the US anyway.

"Well, we have never had many sales in the United States. But we didn't give up our efforts in this country."