TOKYO -- An executive at China's Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest telecommunication equipment supplier, has hit back at security concerns about its role in developing 5G networks saying on Tuesday that its ambition to take the lead in next-generation telecommunication technology should not be politicized.
Asked about concerns in some developed countries that Huawei-supplied 5G networks could pose security risks, Ken Hu, Huawei Deputy and Rotating Chairman, said, "I am glad you have brought this question up. Technology issues should not be politicized."
Hu's remarks were made during an interview with Nikkei on the sidelines of the 20th Nikkei Global Management Forum in Tokyo.
At the forum, Hu presented the company's own vision toward 2025, when it foresees there will be 40 billion smart devices and artificial intelligence will be deployed, and 5G technology will play a crucial role.
As for Huawei's outlook, strategy and role in China's Made in 2025 policy, Hu said: "We did not do much research on the Made in China 2025 policy ... We used to have some discussion [about it] in the past few years, but now what we are doing does not have much to do with the 2025 agenda."
Hu said Huawei's ultimate goal is to use the smartphone as a hub to build an intelligent digital environment for every home in the world, providing solutions ranging from smartphones, tablets and personal computers to TV, automobile and smart speakers. To achieve this goal, Huawei would focus on developing the technologies of artificial intelligence, microchips, algorithms and the human-machine interface, he added.
Beijing's "Made in China 2025" strategy, launched in 2015, aims to transform the country into one of world's leading high-tech powerhouses, closing the gap with the West within a decade. The policy calls for a national effort to dominate industries such as robotics, information technology, and electric vehicles, while in the tech sector, the internet of things and fifth-generation, 5G, wireless networks are key battlegrounds.
However, the policy has drawn a sharp reaction from the U.S. which sees an escalating threat from Chinese companies in these fields and has sought to curb China's growing influence. Washington has imposed bans on certain Chinese companies -- the latest just last week -- accusing them of threats to national security and of intellectual property theft, and in September imposed tariffs on $200 billion dollars of Chinese imports.
Huawei is also feeling the heat of Washington's offensive. A private company whose founder served in the People's Liberation Army, Huawei has grown rapidly to become a global leader in telecom infrastructure and it is now the focus of scrutiny not just in the U.S., but in several countries. In April, it was named by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission as a potential security risk. In August it was banned from participating in building Australia's 5G network after a national security review.
But in some other countries, for example, the U.K., Huawei remains involved as a potential 5G equipment supplier. Canada recently said it would not rule out a ban on Huawei providing telecom equipment for its 5G network.
Hu said Huawei had been transformed from a startup company with less than 100 employees in 1987 to more than 180,000 staff around the world. It is not only the world's biggest telecommunication equipment supplier but the world's second largest smartphone maker. Huawei's success relied on its passion to solve consumers' problems with technology and innovation, Hu said.
To maintain Huawei's leading position, Hu said the company works closely with its suppliers partners, such as Sony. In fact, he said Huawei already has three research centers in Japan and is planning to set up another one in Kansai to strengthen its collaboration with Japanese suppliers.
"We rely heavily on cooperation with our partners ... Besides, such collaboration will remove potential competition with partners and create a win-win situation for the both sides," he said.
Regarding the intensifying competition, "in the fast-evolving tech industry where the competitive environment could change overnight, we would rather focus on customers' needs than zeroing in on immediate rivals," he added.
Nikkei staff writer Lauly Li contributed to this story.