Best of 2012: Ken Hu, Huawei interview


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Ken Hu anticipates that most of Huawei’s business will continue to come out of emerging markets

Ken Hu anticipates that most of Huawei’s business will continue to come out of emerging markets

Two years ago, Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei took the highly unusual step of publicly inviting a US government probe over what deputy chairman Ken Hu described at the time as “a number of misperceptions” about the company.

Among some of the more lurid — and unproven — allegations made against Huawei, the world’s second largest telecoms infrastructure provider after Sweden’s Ericsson, were that the company had business dealings with the Taliban, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein.

The US also expressed reservations over the background of Ren Zhengfei, the man who founded Huawei in 1987, as he previously served in China’s People’s Liberation Army, setting off alarm bells over potential — and again unproven — ties to the Chinese military.

Hu’s plea to the US government followed a string of failed attempts by Huawei, a $32bn-a-year giant that specialises in building internet infrastructure, to enter the potentially lucrative North American market.

It was not long before Hu got his wish. In October 2012, the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee released the findings of an eleven-month investigation into Huawei and ZTE, its smaller rival in the Chinese telecoms market.

 The report highlighted alleged instances of the company’s hardware mysteriously sending packets of information back to China, leading to concerns that data critical to US interests could be falling into the hands of the Chinese government.

The report’s conclusion? US companies should avoid doing business with Huawei altogether.

Speaking to Arabian Business on a visit to Dubai in the immediate aftermath of its publication, Hu laments the findings of the investigation, which has effectively severed any remaining chance of Huawei entering the US market in the forseeable future.

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