Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday accused Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei of lying about his company’s ties to the Chinese government and Chinese Communist Party, which controls it.
Ren and other representatives of Huawei have repeatedly insisted the company does not work with Chinese intelligence services and would not compromise its technology, or the privacy of its customers, if ordered to do so by the Chinese government.
Ren himself has stated Huawei has never been asked to share such information with the Chinese government and would “definitely say no to such a request.”
Critics find these reassurances unconvincing for a number of reasons, including Ren’s long history with the Communist Party, the extreme measures Beijing has taken to protect his daughter and possible successor Meng Wanzhou from prosecution by the United States for fraud and violating sanctions against Iran, and the extremely inconvenient fact that Chinese law requires Huawei and every other company to comply with the sort of demand Ren claims he would refuse.
In an interview with CNBC on Thursday, Pompeo bluntly challenged Ren’s honesty while defending the U.S. government’s recent ban on doing business with Huawei.
“That’s just false. For them to say they don’t work with the Chinese government is a false statement. He is required by Chinese law to do that,” Pompeo said when asked about Ren’s assurances.
“The Huawei CEO on that, at least, isn’t telling the American people the truth, nor the world,” Pompeo charged.
“The company is deeply tied not only to China but to the Chinese Communist Party. And that connectivity, the existence of those connections puts American information that crosses those networks at risk,” he said.
Pompeo stressed the importance of maintaining a single global Internet that has “Western values embedded in it,” including “rule of law, property rights protections, transparency,” and “openness.”
“It can’t be a system that is based on the principles of an authoritarian Communist regime,” he declared.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang responded angrily to Pompeo’s remarks on Friday, repeating a common Chinese accusation that the Trump administration is fabricating its security concerns to “smear” Chinese companies and depress their business.
“Recently, some U.S. politicians have continually fabricated rumors about Huawei but have never produced the clear evidence that countries have requested,” Lu said, referring to Pompeo’s CNBC interview.
“Domestically in the United States there are more and more doubts about the trade war the U.S. side has provoked with China, the market turmoil caused by the technology war and blocked industrial cooperation,” he said.