- Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei on Wednesday said that he would be happy to meet with President Donald Trump but that Trump would have to come to China.
- “He has private jets and he can come to China anytime, and I do not have private jet,” Ren said. “My airplane is only made of paper — if it rains, it might fall.”
- Ren is estimated to be a billionaire as the CEO and founder of Huawei, which is the world’s second-biggest phone maker behind Samsung and dominant in mobile network equipment.
- Ren has given conflicting statements over whether he’d talk to the president after Trump’s administration placed Huawei on a trade blacklist in May.
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Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei said during a panel discussion on Wednesday that if President Donald Trump wanted to talk, he’d have to come to China.
Ren was asked why he didn’t visit Washington to lobby Trump directly after Huawei was blacklisted by the US in May. Huawei’s new phones are also blocked from running Google’s mobile services thanks to the restrictions.
“I don’t have a channel of communication with Trump — I don’t have his mobile phone number,” Ren replied, though when asked whether he would speak with Trump given the chance he said, “Yes I would, certainly.”
Huawei is the second-biggest smartphone maker in the world and is dominant in mobile network equipment. Forbes places Ren’s net worth at $1.4 billion.
The CEO has a history of confusing statements regarding Trump.
In January, after his daughter Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Huawei, was arrested in Canada at the behest of the US, Ren said Trump was a “great president.”
Following the company’s blacklisting, however, Ren said he would ignore a call from the president if it came in, and a month later he said he might be “too busy” to answer a call from Trump — adding that he didn’t speak English.
Ren’s comments on Wednesday came with the US and China closing in on sealing “phase one” of a trade deal, which may mean US suppliers will be able sell to Huawei once more.
“From the beginning I’ve never paid any attention to the trade war,” Ren said, adding: “We have zero sales in the United States, so the trade war between the two countries bears no impact on Huawei.”
It’s true that Huawei mostly doesn’t sell phones in the US; however, it has been affected by the US lobbying its allies to block the firm from providing equipment for new superfast 5G mobile networks.
And Ren acknowledged the blacklist had affected Huawei in that it was unable to license and preinstall Google’s suite of apps on its new flagship Mate 30 phone. The ability to use Google’s services is key for most Western consumers buying Android phones.
“The impact in the non-China region is bigger than the China region,” Ren said.