The founder of Chinese tech giant Huawei said on Tuesday that his company would refuse to disclose secrets about its customers and their communication networks, trying to lay to rest concerns the company might spy for Beijing.
Ren Zhengfei spoke in a rare meeting with foreign reporters as Huawei Technologies Ltd tries to protect its access to global telecom carriers that are investing heavily in next-generation technology.
Ren’s comments were the most direct public response to accusations that his company is controlled by the ruling Communist Party or is required to facilitate Chinese spying.
Huawei, the biggest global supplier of network equipment used by phone and internet companies, is China’s first global tech brand. The United States, Australia, Japan and some other governments have imposed curbs on the use of its technology over concerns raised by the accusations against the company.
“We would definitely say no to such a request,” Ren said when asked how the company would respond to a government demand for confidential information about a foreign buyer of its telecom technology.
Huawei is facing heightened scrutiny as phone carriers prepare to roll out fifth-generation technology in which Huawei is a leading competitor. 5G is designed to support a vast expansion of networks to serve medical devices, self-driving cars and other technology.
That increases the cost of potential security failures and has prompted governments increasingly to treat telecoms communications networks as strategic assets.
The company’s image suffered a new blow last week when Polish authorities announced one of the company’s Chinese employees had been arrested on spying charges. Huawei announced that it had fired the employee and said the allegations had nothing to do with the company.
Meng Wanzhou’s arrest
Ren is the father of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested on December 1 in Canada on US charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions on Iran.
Ren said he couldn’t discuss the pending case but did say that Huawei obeys the law, including export restrictions, in every country where it operates.
Ren expressed gratitude to Canadian justice officials for their treatment of Meng, who was released on bail and is staying in a house in Vancouver. He also expressed appreciation to her fellow jail inmates prior to her release “for treating her kindly”.
“After all the evidence is made public, we will rely on the justice system,” he said. “We are sure there will be a just conclusion to this matter.”
Two Canadians were arrested by Chinese authorities on national security charges, prompting suggestions abroad they might be hostages to secure Meng’s release. On Monday, a Chinese court sentenced a Canadian to death in a drug case after a sudden retrial was ordered in his case.
Asked whether he felt that Huawei was linked to accusations Beijing took hostages, Ren said he saw no connection between the Canadians and Meng’s case.
Decisions based on customer’s needs
Huawei is counting on 5G to expand its business operations throughout the world [Andy Wong/AP Photo]
Ren said he became a Communist Party member in the early 1980s after the state press published reports about his development of a measuring tool for an engineering project.
Ren founded Huawei in 1987 to sell imported telecom switching gear to Chinese phone companies after the People’s Liberation Army disbanded his engineering unit, according to the company.
Ren said that despite his party membership, Huawei makes decisions based on its customers’ needs.
“I don’t see a close connection between my personal political beliefs and our commercial decisions,” he said.
Although the company has been blocked from operating in the US since 2012 when legislators said the company could pose an intelligence threat, it is a lucrative company. Huawei says it expects last year’s revenue to exceed $100bn for the first time. Ren said this year’s target is $125 bn.
Huawei says it is employee-owned. Ren said no government entity or any other investor who isn’t a current or former employee owns “once cent of Huawei shares”.
Ren said Huawei has no research cooperation with the ruling party’s military wing, the PLA. He said the company has no dedicated unit for military sales and he knew of no purchases of civilian technology by the PLA.
Ren cited comments by Chinese government spokespeople who rejected suggestions, including by a vice president of the European Union, that Chinese vendors might be required to install secret “backdoors” to facilitate eavesdropping under a law enacted last year that requires them to cooperate with intelligence agencies.
Ren said Huawei doesn’t want Beijing to retaliate for foreign restrictions by hampering market access for Apple Inc and other rivals.
“In spite of setbacks in some countries, we are still supportive of China becoming a more open country,” he said.
Saudi Arabia, UAE summon Lebanon envoys over Yemen war criticism
Gulf states angered by Lebanese information minister’s remarks about the Saudi-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen.Saudi Arabia and the UAE have summoned Lebanon’s ambassadors to protest against Information Minister George Kordahi’s criticism of the Riyadh-led military coalition fighting rebels in Yemen. Kordahi said during an interview aired on Monday that the Iran-backed Houthi rebels…
Gulf states angered by Lebanese information minister’s remarks about the Saudi-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen.Saudi Arabia and the UAE have summoned Lebanon’s ambassadors to protest against Information Minister George Kordahi’s criticism of the Riyadh-led military coalition fighting rebels in Yemen.
Kordahi said during an interview aired on Monday that the Iran-backed Houthi rebels are “defending themselves … against an external aggression”, adding that “homes, villages, funerals and weddings were being bombed” by the coalition.
He also called the seven-year war in Yemen “futile” and said it was “time for it to end”.
Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when the Houthis gained control of the capital Sanaa, prompting Saudi-led forces to intervene to prop up the government the following year.
Tens of thousands of people – most of them civilians – have died and millions have been displaced, in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that it handed the ambassador a memorandum protesting against Kordahi’s “offensive” remarks.
It also expressed its regret about the “insulting” statements, saying they were “clearly biased towards the terrorist Houthi militia that threatens the security and stability of the region”.
Shortly after, the United Arab Emirates – a member of the coalition – condemned Kordahi’s statements and said it had also called in the Lebanese ambassador.
Kordahi’s “disgraceful and biased” comments “offended the member countries of the coalition,” it said in a statement carried by the official WAM news agency.
The Gulf Cooperation Council’s secretary general earlier said Kordahi’s comments reflected little understanding and was a superficial reading of events.
GCC member Kuwait also summoned Lebanon’s charge d’affaires in protest.
On Tuesday, the Lebanese government said that Kordahi’s statements were “rejected and did not reflect the position of the government”, adding that the interview in question took place before Kordahi was appointed to the cabinet in September.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati has been hoping to improve ties with Gulf Arab states which have been strained for years because of the influence wielded in Beirut by the Iran-backed Shia group Hezbollah.
Lebanon, he added, was eager for the best relations with Arab states.
Kordahi, a well-known television presenter, told local reporters on Wednesday that the interview in question took place on August 5, before he became a minister and was his “personal opinion”.
“I did not wrong anyone. I did not attack anyone. Why should I apologise?” he said. “I stated my position with love as a human who feels Arab suffering.”
He said he was committed to government policy and would not resign.
“I am against Arab-Arab wars … accusing me of hostility to Saudi Arabia is rejected.”
When asked during the show about drone attacks, which the Houthis have launched repeatedly into Saudi Arabia along with missiles, he answered, “Yes, but see also the damage that is being done to them as a nation … they are being bombed by planes.”
Beirut has adopted a policy of staying out of regional conflicts even as Hezbollah has deployed fighters to Syria. The Saudi-led coalition has said Hezbollah also sent fighters to Yemen.
Rights groups have strongly criticised the coalition for civilian casualties in its aerial bombardment.
The Saudi-led coalition says it does not intentionally target civilians in Yemen, where air raids have killed civilians at hospitals, schools and markets during the war.
Putin signals additional natural gas may be bound for Europe
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered state-controlled energy giant Gazprom to start rebuilding European gas inventories next month.By Dina Khrennikova and Ilya Arkhipov and Elena MaznevaBloombergPublished On 27 Oct 2021President Vladimir Putin told Gazprom PJSC to turn to refilling European gas-storage facilities next month, signaling that long-awaited additional Russian supplies could be on the way. The move will “create a…
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered state-controlled energy giant Gazprom to start rebuilding European gas inventories next month.By Dina Khrennikova and Ilya Arkhipov and Elena MaznevaBloombergPublished On 27 Oct 2021President Vladimir Putin told Gazprom PJSC to turn to refilling European gas-storage facilities next month, signaling that long-awaited additional Russian supplies could be on the way.
The move will “create a more favorable situation on the European energy market,” Putin said at a meeting broadcast on state television Wednesday.
He ordered the state-controlled energy giant to focus on filling underground storage in Germany and Austria starting Nov. 8, once it’s completed the process at home. Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexey Miller, speaking to the president via video link, said the domestic re-injection campaign would be extended a week longer than the original Nov. 1 conclusion.
Gazprom so far has pumped very small amounts of gas into its European storage facilities, Miller said.
Russia’s focus on rebuilding domestic gas inventories, combined with low storage rates at Gazprom sites in the European Union, has become a major concern for the continent’s market, which is struggling with an energy squeeze and sky-high prices.
European inventories on the whole are at the lowest seasonal level in almost a decade.
Putin’s first verbal intervention into the market earlier this month eased the gas rally but prices have recovered slightly since. Transit capacities that Gazprom has booked for November don’t yet promise any significant boost in deliveries to Europe. The company has said it’s meeting all contractual obligations, while some EU officials have accused the company of withholding fuel to accelerate approval of its controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
All gas-storage sites in Europe’s biggest market, Germany, where Gazprom has several facilities, are about 71% full now, according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe.
The situation with facilities owned and co-owned by the Russian exporter varies – from 83% at Jemgum to 9.5% at Rehden. Gazprom has used some volumes it stored in the EU in August to compensate for reduced shipments after a fire at a Siberian processing plant.
In Russia, Gazprom plans to stockpile a record 72.6 billion cubic meters for the upcoming winter. The plan was to complete this task by Nov. 1, but the gas producer will continue rebuilding its Russian inventories through Nov. 7 as planned virus lockdowns will dampen fuel consumption, Miller said.
(Updates with details on Gazprom storage sites staring in seventh paragraph)
Saudi Arabia issues calming statement as Lebanese tensions rise over port explosion case
BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Lebanon Waleed Bukhari told Lebanese religious figures on Tuesday that the Kingdom “cares for Lebanon’s security, stability, institutions and co-existence between Christians and Muslims.” The Saudi embassy’s media office said: “There is no legitimacy for the discourse of strife, nor for one that goes against Lebanon’s Arab identity.” This was…
BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Lebanon Waleed Bukhari told Lebanese religious figures on Tuesday that the Kingdom “cares for Lebanon’s security, stability, institutions and co-existence between Christians and Muslims.”
The Saudi embassy’s media office said: “There is no legitimacy for the discourse of strife, nor for one that goes against Lebanon’s Arab identity.”
This was the first Saudi statement since the bloody clashes in Tayouneh on Oct. 14.
At least seven people were killed in the violence in Beirut amid a protest organized by Hezbollah and its allies against the lead judge probing last year’s blast at the city’s port.
The protestors, gathered by Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, demanded the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar from the investigation.
According to the embassy’s statement, Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian “expressed his appreciation for the Kingdom, led by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for never abandoning Lebanon and its people, despite the unfair stances against the Kingdom by some Lebanese parties that only represent themselves.”
Sheikh Derian added that “the Saudi-Lebanese relations have always been and will remain solid regardless of any offensive speeches because our relations are above these speeches and Saudi Arabia will always see Lebanon as an Arab brotherly country.”
The statement comes after the Intelligence Directorate summoned the head of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, to the Defense Ministry on Wednesday as part of the investigation into the bloodshed in Tayouneh.
The summoning was the motivation for Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi’s spontaneous visits on Tuesday to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and President Michel Aoun.
Al-Rahi denounced “the summoning of Geagea only by the Intelligence Directorate to testify.”
Charles Jabbour from the Lebanese Forces party told Arab News that “Geagea will not appear at the Defense Ministry on Wednesday.
“They should start with summoning Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah. All parties should give testimonies, beginning with the party that called for the demonstration. Only when a judge dares to summon Nasrallah, will we be able to talk about a state and a judiciary in Lebanon.”
The move to summon Geagea was condemned by several political figures.
Former Premier Saad Hariri refused “to engage in an absurd conflict and the frontlines of a civil war and sectarian divisions.”
He added: “Announcing that Dr. Geagea was informed to appear before the Intelligence Directorate via a plastered notification is absurd and leads the country into further division along with using state machinery for revenge politics.”
Former Premier Fouad Siniora also denounced “the bias of the judicial authorities in the military court over the deplorable Tayouneh events and the continuing violations of the constitutions by those who were entrusted with the task of preserving and protecting it.”
Siniora rejected “the practices seeking to use the judiciary for reprisals against political opponents, and not for its main mission: To seek the truth and achieve justice.”
Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat criticized the “selectivity instead of a transparent and just investigation for a comprehensive justice.”
He said: “All those who fired shots in the Tayouneh events should be arrested, without discrimination, and this destructive and futile political dispute must be ended.”
Samy Gemayel, head of the Lebanese Kataeb Party, announced his rejection to “all the means Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have resorted to in hampering the investigation into the Beirut port blast.”
Hezbollah accused Geagea of firing the first shot on Oct. 14 at the demonstrators who penetrated the anti-Hezbollah and Christian-majority Ain Remaneh area.
Former Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who is also a defendant in the Beirut port explosion investigation, visited Sheikh Derian on Tuesday, reiterating his demand “to either lift immunity from everyone without exception, or adopt the legal and constitutional mechanisms in force in the Supreme Council for the Trial of Presidents and Ministers.”
So far, all the politicians who have been accused of being involved in the Beirut port blast have declined to appear before Judge Bitar.
Amal Movement and Hezbollah ministers have refused to attend Cabinet sessions unless Judge Bitar is removed and the investigations into Tayouneh are halted, causing a governmental paralysis at a time when Lebanon is in desperate need of reforms to unblock the international aid that would lessen its dire economic situation.
Prime Minister Mikati hoped on Tuesday that “Cabinet meetings will resume as soon as possible to make the decisions required to activate the work of commissions and committees and do what is needed from the government.”
Mikati added that he hoped his government would supervise “the parliamentary elections with full integrity, to enable these elections to renew the political life in Lebanon.”
The joint parliamentary committees held a session on Tuesday and voted to keep the electoral law as it was, thus rejecting Aoun’s proposal to make amendments.
Aoun had objected to holding the elections on March 27 and to the proposals to change the expatriate voting formula by canceling the six seats allocated for Lebanese voters who live abroad.