The latest move by China-based Huawei to remediate its image as a security threat to governments and enterprises comes straight from the top. Founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei told reporters at a press conference in New Zealand that Huawei is not connected to cyberespionage, nor does it represent a security threat to customers.
“Huawei has no connection to the cybersecurity issues the U.S. has encountered in the past, current and future,” said Ren, according to Reuters.
While several U.S.- and China-based Huawei officers have made similar assertions in the last six months, Ren’s statement is the strongest and highest-level rejection of accusations that Huawei is more of an instrument of China’s People’s Liberation Army that a free enterprise interested in fair competition with the likes of Cisco Systems Inc., Avaya Inc. and Alcatel-Lucent.
Since October 2012, when a U.S. Congressional report labeled the company a national and economic security threat to the United States, Huawei has been buffered by allegations that it is untrustworthy. The U.S. government and competitors actively tell partners and customers they should not buy Huawei products because they could be used to leak information to China’s military and government.
This tainted image likely caused Huawei last month to withdraw from the U.S. carrier market. While the company is moving toward become a global $100 billion company by expanding channels in North America, Europe and Latin America, executive vice president Eric Xu last month said Huawei is no longer interested in the U.S. market, at least for carriers.
Later, the company clarified that it remains interested and optimistic about its prospects for growing market share in enterprise networking in the U.S.
Earlier this week, Huawei launched ICT Nation, a collaborative community of vendors, solution providers and CIOs to advance understanding and best practices of infrastructure development in the cloud computing era. The announcement coincides with new products that facilitate switching in virtualized and cloud environments.
“It will become very clear to those with open minds our commitment to this community,” said COO Jane Li said, referring to the channel and the U.S. market.
In two weeks, Huawei will host North America partners at its annual channel summit in California. While the agenda is more focused on technology, products and go-to-market strategy, the expectation is that trustworthiness and reputation will factor into the discussions.
A survey by The 2112 Group in October 2012 found more than two-thirds of U.S. partners are apprehensive about working with companies labeled as security threats by the government. However, the same ratio of solution providers say competition from foreign companies is good for the U.S. economy and stimulates innovation among domestic vendors.