Huawei Launches Aggressive Charm Offensive To Reclaim Narratives After CFO’s Arrest

Huawei PR Strategy

Huawei, a global technology and telecommunications market leader from China, has recently opened its doors to foreign media for them to see its state-of-the-art facilities on Wednesday, March 6.

The media tour is part of the normally secretive company’s PR campaign as a counter-offensive against US warnings that the Chinese government uses Huawei and its technology for espionage and economic sabotage.

The aggressive charm offensive has seen Huawei’s reclusive founder, Ren Zhengfei, gave a series of interviews with foreign media and to deny US accusation that the company is a threat and dismiss US warnings as baseless.

The PR campaign went into another gear Wednesday as Huawei welcomed media to its tightly-guarded facilities in southern Guangdong province.

“I don’t think this is any change in their DNA so much as a Beijing communist-style ‘we are going to pound you into submission,'” Christopher Balding, a China expert at Fulbright University in Ho Chi Minh City, told AFP.

Journalists toured Huawei’s facilities with 35 highly automated assembly lines in Dongguan that showed them an array of robotic arms that are automated to put together Huawei P20 efficiently as they make one unit every 28.5 seconds.

The members of the press also had a glimpse of Huawei’s independent cybersecurity laboratory where the head of the department, Wang Jin, rejects the allegations that they are used as a Trojan horse by the Chinese government.

“Our most basic red line is that our products cannot have any backdoors,” Wang said.

The report suggests that Huawei’s welcoming of the journalist to its heavily guarded and private laboratories that employ more than 60,000 employees is part of the company’s effort to get hold of the narrative created against them after their CFO’s arrest.

The United States has accused that Huawei’s equipment could be manipulated by China’s Communist government to spy on other countries and disrupt critical communications.

Trump’s administration has launched a global campaign warning other governments and urging them to ban Huawei’s technology, especially that it has recently unveiled its 5G tech, which experts except that they would lead.

Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou, daughter of founder Ren, will face the court for a hearing on Wednesday in the extradition request of the United States.

As they tour the state-of-the-art facilities of the Chinese company, journalists are served with a cup of coffee with which an image of a lighthouse with the text “Lighting the way home for Meng” was printed. Journalists suggest that this is a subtle PR strategy to reclaim the narrative.

United States Justice Department has accused Huawei and Meng of circumventing its economic sanctions against Iran. Two other associates are also charged for supposedly stealing trade secrets from US leading telecommunication company, T-Mobile.

“They should be able to ride this out,” Balding said.

“It’s not realistic to expect the entire world to shun Huawei and that probably wouldn’t be good anyway.”

In the recent months, after intense lobbying by Ren and his team, reports suggest that Britain and New Zealand may walk back earlier indications that the company would be frozen out if their telecom plans.

At the world’s top mobile industry fair in Spain last week, Huawei bagged 5G commercial contracts or partnership agreements with ten telecom operators — including Switzerland’s Sunrise, Iceland’s Nova, Saudi Arabia’s STC and Turkey’s Turkcell.

Huawei’s Chairman, Guo Ping, announced Tuesday that the company will hold a news conference in Shenzhen headquarters and was followed by speculations that it would be about the real reason why Huawei toured journalists and the timing of the event.

Sources also reveal that it could be about the company’s plan to sue the United States government for barring its federal departments from using technologies from Huawei and other products.

After a ban of telecom technologies from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., a bipartisan group of senators in the US, urged the government to block the company from supplying solar energy generators to the United States.

Eleven lawmakers sent a letter on late February to the Department of Homeland Security and Energy Department to ban Huawei’s attempt to provide solar inverters that convert solar energy to power that can be used on power grids for US energy companies.

In the past, the US has banned Huawei from supplying telecommunication equipment like routers and switches to US service providers after they accuse the company of violating U.S. sanction on Iran and conspiring to steal U. S. technologies. /apr

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