David Thomas is an expert on doing business in China. With a successful history of forging global business relationships, David helps leaders, entrepreneurs and investors solve the China puzzle. As part of that, he’s launched a daily email newsletter ‘China Bites’ which you can read here on Targeting China.


In a wide-ranging interview with The Economist, Mr Ren Zhengfei, chief executive of Huawei, provided some interesting and thought-provoking insights last week into how Huawei is responding to the changing global environment, particularly the backlash against Huawei’s 5G capabilities and concern about China’s growing influence and interference. You can read the full transcript of the interview here or listen (as I did) via the Economist podcast.

Commenting on the current state of globalisation, The Economist made the point that “….you now have big companies that are selling products and services that can only make sense in a world of a great degree of trust. You know, it’s not selling tennis shoes or tennis rackets. It’s selling an autonomous car or a medical device. So this globalisation is now seeing trade in products that requires a lifetime of trust, at the same time as countries like China and America find it very difficult to trust one another”.

Mr Ren gave frank and open responses, including the possibility of Huawei offering to sell its 5G technology to a western buyer. “For a one-time fee, a transaction would give the buyer perpetual access to Huawei’s existing 5G patents, licences, code, technical blueprints and production know-how. The acquirer could modify the source code, meaning that neither Huawei nor the Chinese government would have even hypothetical control of any telecoms infrastructure built using equipment produced by the new company”. That sounds like a game-changer.

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