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'Apple's my teacher': Huawei CEO says he is against punishing Apple for Trump's 5G purge

'Apple's my teacher': Huawei CEO says he is against punishing Apple for Trump's 5G purge
Huawei's founder has said that US President Donald Trump's crackdown on the Chinese telecom giant is due to it being more advanced than its competitors, adding that he would not welcome a tit-for-tat against Apple.

Ren Zhengfei, founder and CEO of Huawei, told Bloomberg in an interview on Sunday that he would be strongly opposed to targeting Apple in retaliation against Washington's onslaught on his own company, despite Apple being Huawei's main competitor in the smartphone market.

"Apple is my teacher, it advanced in front of us. As a student, why should I oppose my teacher? I would never do it," Ren said, adding that he doubts that Beijing would drag the US company into the ongoing trade row.

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"That will not happen, first of all. And second of all, if that happens, I'll be the first to protest. Apple is the world's leading company. If there wasn't Apple, there would have been no mobile internet," Ren said.

Chinese media have reported that local consumers have been ditching Apple iPhones in favor of domestically built Huawei devices. Social media campaigns in support of Huawei reportedly cite the ongoing trade dispute while urging locals to stock up on Huawei products at Apple's expense.

At the same time, Ren dismissed the notion that Huawei's success is driven by technology theft from the US, arguing that "it's more likely that they steal our technology." Huawei's technological superiority is precisely the reason US President Donald Trump is going to such lengths to bar it from the market, Ren believes.

Huawei is the world's largest telecom equipment-maker and is trailing only Samsung in the smartphone market after overtaking Apple as the second-biggest supplier last year – and its CEO is certain a company this big won't be sunk by American sanctions.

"If some companies do not want to work with us, it's like a hole in an airplane. We are working to fix the hole, but the airplane is still able to fly," Ren said, adding that Huawei would use more of its own chips instead of buying from the US.

In addition to targeting Huawei at home, the US has led a wide-ranging campaign to pressure its allies in Europe and Asia to ditch the Chinese company's 5G equipment citing allegations of spying. While some have fallen in line, most of Europe has been reluctant to cave in without hard proof.

"The US manages its own companies. The US is not the international police. They cannot manage the whole world," Ren said.

While China has not attempted to bring Apple into the trade feud with the US, Trump has repeatedly suggested using Huawei as bargaining chip.

For his part, Ren said he wants nothing to do with Trump and may even refuse to sell Huawei products to the US if it ever expresses a desire to buy.

"The US has never bought any products from us. Even if the US ever wants to buy our products in the future, I may not sell to them. There is no need for negotiation. I will ignore Trump – then, with whom can he negotiate? If he calls me, I may not answer."

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