Last week 69-year-old founder and CEO of China-based Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, told French journalists in a rare interview that due to the strains between China and the United States, and because of the accusations made by U.S. lawmakers that Huawei is somehow tied to China, the company is supposedly exiting the North American market.
"If Huawei gets in the middle of U.S-China relations [and causes problems], it's not worth it," Zhengfei reportedly said. "Therefore, we have decided to exit the U.S. market, and not stay in the middle."
The news isn't surprising. The North American market could be seen as hostile given how federal regulators have tried to block the spread of Huawei's equipment in the United States, and how lawmakers have convinced many U.S. firms to stop doing business with the China-based company. Huawei's desire to possibly throw in the towel due to the strains on the local market isn't really anything new.
The big fear with local lawmakers and regulators is that Huawei's networking products will have secret backdoors built in so that Chinese officials can spy on Americans. Just over a year ago, Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, suggested that U.S.-based businesses find a vendor other than Huawei and ZTE, that the installation of their equipment could be disastrous.
"We have to be certain that Chinese telecommunication companies working in the United States can be trusted with access to our critical infrastructure," Rogers said in a public announcement. "Any bug, beacon, or backdoor put into our critical systems could allow for a catastrophic and devastating domino effect of failures throughout our networks."
So does that mean Huawei giving up on America? No. "Given the U.S. carrier equipment market environment, Huawei is prioritizing its carrier business on markets that are open to competition, innovation and investment," Huawei spokesman William Plummer told AllThingsD in an email interview.
"We remain committed to our customers, employees, investments and operations and more than $1 billion in sales in the U.S., and we stand ready to deliver additional competition and innovative solutions as desired by customers and allowed by authorities," Plummer added.
For the record, Zhengfei didn't say that Huawei was shutting down its offices in the United States or ending a specific line of business. According to Foreign Policy, the company CEO even admitted that its mobile phone business was doing well here in the States.