Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei has said that the company is quitting the US as a result of repeated official accusations that its networking hardware is used for cyber-surveillance by the Chinese government.
In a rare interview, with French press, Ren said "If Huawei gets in the middle of US-China relations [and causes problems,] it's not worth it," Zhengfei. "Therefore, we have decided to exit the US market."
However, the company's US vice president, who is normally the public face of the company in Europe and the US, denied that the company planned to withdraw from the US market. He said that Ren was simply "making comment on the current market environment", in a subsequent interview with Foreign Policy.
Ren was speaking as the US officially warned South Korea off of using Huawei hardware in the development of the country's 4G telecoms network, where Huawei has been brought in as a sub-contractor.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the US government has been privately warning its close ally against allowing Huawei to develop a high-speed data network in the country.
The US government, which has been embroiled in its own global internet surveillance scandal, is concerned that Huawei's equipment could be used as a Trojan horse for broader surveillance of allies and, by extension, US government communications, too.
Both the Chinese government and Huawei have described US concerns as "unfounded". However, the US warnings coincide with a rise in tensions in the South China Sea, where a number of nations - including China - are claiming territorial rights to the mineral-rich waters.
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A discussion of the "risk perception gap", its implications and how it can be closed