Roy Gilbert

Huawei founder says US sanctions not his toughest crisis

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SHENZHEN, China — For decades, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei stayed out of sight as his company grew to become the biggest maker of network gear for phone carriers and surpassed Apple as the No. 2 smartphone brand.

Now, Ren is shedding that anonymity as Huawei Technologies Ltd. mobilizes against the latest threat to its success: U.S. sanctions and warnings that it is a security risk.

The billionaire entrepreneur embroiled in the Trump administration’s fight with China over technology is a 75-year-old former army engineer who worked his way out of childhood poverty. He has survived competition that drove Western rivals out of the market, brushes with financial disaster and job stress so severe he contemplated suicide.

He sees American pressure as just the latest in a string of tests that have hardened him and his company.

“For three decades, Huawei has been suffering and no joy,” Ren said in an interview. “The pain of each episode is different.”

There is a personal dimension to the latest episode: Ren’s daughter, Huawei’s chief financial officer, is under arrest in Canada on U.S. charges she helped to violate sanctions against Iran.

Ren and his company already have spent nearly a decade fighting U.S. accusations the company might facilitate Chinese spying. The Trump administration stepped up pressure this year by imposing curbs on sales of U.S. technology to Huawei and urging European and other allies to shun the company as they prepare to roll out next-generation telecom networks.The escalating clash with Washington has transformed Ren from an admired but […]

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