Chinese telecom giant Huawei gave Overseas media a peek to its state-of-the-art facilities Wednesday since the normally secretive company steps a counter-offensive against US warnings that it could be used by Beijing for espionage and sabotage.
Huawei has kicked off the year with an aggressive PR campaign that has seen reclusive founder Ren Zhengfeiabruptly provide a string of interviews with foreign media to deny the firm was a threat, while executives have dismissed the US warnings as baseless.
The charm offensive reached another gear Wednesday as Huawei welcomed media to its tightly-guarded centers in southern Guangdong province, starting with a tour of a smartphone production line in Dongguan.
“I don’t believe this is any change in their DNA as much as a Beijing communist-style’we are going to pound you into submission’,” Christopher Balding, a China specialist at Fulbright University at Ho Chi Minh City, told AFP.
Australian journalist visits are barely routine at a headquarters where high-tech labs and manufacturing facilities employ 60,000 people, but these are rare instances for the business.
The United States states Huawei equipment can be manipulated by China’s Communist authorities to spy on other countries and interrupt critical communications.
Washington is urging authorities to ditch the business just as the world readies for the advent of ultra-fast 5G telecommunications, an improvement that Huawei was expected to direct and which will allow broad adoption of next-generation technology such as artificial intelligence.
Two Canadians have been detained in China in suspected retaliation within her arrest.
Two affiliates also have been charged with stealing trade secrets from telecommunications team T-Mobile.
“They should be able to ride this out,” Balding said.
“It is not realistic to expect the entire world to shun Huawei and that probably wouldn’t be good anyhow,” he explained.
Founded by Ren at 1987, Huawei has espoused a constant”wolf” ethos that executives say fuelled its rise to become the world leader in telecom network hardware.
It remains to be seen how the new charm offensive will play out, however, the wolf may already smell blood.
After intense recent lobbying from Huawei, reports have suggested Britain and New Zealand could walk back before indications that the corporation will be suspended out of their telecom programs.
At the planet’s top mobile industry fair in Spain last week, Huawei bagged 5G commercial contracts or partnership arrangements with 10 telecom operators such as Switzerland’s Sunrise, Iceland’s Nova, Saudi Arabia’s STC and Turkey’s Turkcell.
On Thursday, Huawei Chairman Guo Ping will hold a news conference at the Shenzhen headquarters that could possibly be the actual reason behind the media tour’s time.
The New York Times on Monday cited anonymous sources stating Huawei this week will announce plans to sue the US government for barring American national agencies from utilizing the organization’s products.
This issue of the news conference has not yet been revealed, but a big statement would enable Huawei to seize back the narrative from Meng’s extradition hearing.
Huawei declined to comment publicly about the Times report.
Opening its own sprawling grounds also is an opportunity for Huawei to demonstrate that it is a global player to not be trifled with.
Approximately 60,000 workers operate at its own Shenzhen headquarters – near Dongguan – which has cutting-edge labs, hotels, swimming pools and fitness centres, a dozen cafeterias, and a Huawei University where it trains employees in addition to overseas clients and partners.
Huawei strenuously denies any connections to China’s government.
Sceptics, however, say it’s exceedingly improbable that Ren, a former Chinese military scientist, could have led his company to these heights in such a tactical industry with no aid of Beijing, which has clearly stated its objective of becoming the world’s high tech pioneer.
Apart from its network dominance, Huawei is the planet’s second-largest smartphone supplier after Samsung and Apple.