The U.S. decision to allow American firms to continue doing business with Huawei would have little impact on the Chinese tech company, according to a senior executive at Huawei.
Huawei is able to ship its products to customers without relying on U.S. parts, Chairman Liang Hua told CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore at the East Tech West conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China on Monday.
“No matter whether there will be an extension, in terms of its real impact on Huawei, it will be very limited,” Liang said in translated remarks during a panel. “Our products are able to be shipped without the reliance on the U.S. components and chips.”
He said that if U.S. companies are not allowed to sell to Huawei, it would “pose a bigger damage” to them. Huawei has the ability to ensure all of its main products, including 5G base stations, can be manufactured and supplied to its customers without relying on U.S. parts, according to the chairman.
Huawei is the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment maker and one of the leading names in the development of 5G — the next generation of high-speed mobile internet technology that aims to provide faster data speeds and more bandwidth to carry growing levels of web traffic. It’s seen as central to China’s ambitions in becoming a dominant player in 5G.
In May, the U.S. added Huawei and its affiliates to a blacklist, the so-called Entity List, and said the company was a security risk. As a result, U.S. companies cannot sell or transfer technology to Huawei without a government-issued license. Washington later softened its stance and temporarily extended the license for American firms.
Despite pressure from the U.S., Huawei claimed in October that it has signed more than 60 commercial 5G contracts with “leading global carriers.”
No direct contact with US government
Huawei’s chairman said the company has not had direct communication with the U.S. government. “We don’t have a channel to talk to them either,” Liang said.
Asked why he thought officials in the U.S. government were not speaking to Huawei directly, Liang said the U.S. government does not know the tech company well enough. “The lack of communication is because of a lack of knowledge.”
Even amid reports that the U.S. government is working to extend the license for U.S. firms to sell to Huawei, U.S. Attorney General William Barr recent wrote a letter to the Federal Communications Commission Chairman saying the company, along with Chinese rival ZTE, “cannot be trusted.”
Barr wrote in support of the telecom regulator’s draft plans that would prevent Huawei and ZTE from selling goods to entities, such as regional and rural broadband providers, using money from the FCC’s Universal Service Fund. He said the companies’ role in the global 5G equipment market was a reason for caution.
Liang told CNBC that the move would “only damage the broadband network suppliers in those rural areas. It would only cause a bigger digital divide in the U.S.”
Despite the face-off against the U.S. government, Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei said in September the company is willing to exclusively license its 5G technology to an American firm to create a level playing field for competitors.
The license would include Huawei’s proprietary 5G tech including source code, hardware, software, verification, production, and manufacturing know-how.
But on Monday, Liang said that so far, no U.S. company has approached Huawei directly about the licenses.