Okay, haters, you win: Huawei is nixing its growth plans in the US.
For years, officials in the US and elsewhere have accused the tech company of being a proxy for the Chinese government. And while Huawei has long denied the claims, it seems like it’s just too tired to do it any longer.
In a recent interview with French media, Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei said the company will stop looking for new business in the US, where fears over its alleged spying are the highest. “It’s not worth it,” he said, according to a transcript of the interview.
Those fears sound like they’re torn out of a spy thriller: US officials say that Huawei, which makes routers as well as smartphones, could install backdoors into its products, making it easy for the Chinese government to spy on US companies that use them.
While Zhengfei’s comments were a tad vague, a Huawei vice president told Foreign Policy that the company wasn’t pulling out of the US entirely — it’s just shifting its focus to markets like Europe, which “welcomes competition and investment.”
While the shift seems drastic, it’s actually not surprising given that Huawei admitted as recently as this April that it had been effectively shut out of companies in the US. That trouble came largely from a 2012 Congressional report that argued that Huawei and its fellow Chinese smartphone marker ZTE “cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence.”
Huawei denied those allegations (which weren’t built entirely on facts), but as the company’s recent news confirms, the damage has already been already done.