TORONTO – Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei will relocate its US research and development center to Canada in response to Washington’s sanctions against the company, founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei told a Canadian newspaper.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Ren also said that Huawei wants to establish factories in Europe in a bid “to win more trust” from European governments.
Word of Huawei’s planned expansion in Canada comes despite Ottawa’s decision to detain company CFO Meng Wanzhou at the request of the United States.
Meng, who is Ren’s daughter, was arrested in December 2018 while changing planes at Vancouver international airport en route from Hong Kong to Mexico.
The US accuses Meng and Huawei of seeking to evade Washington’s economic sanctions against Iran.
Meng’s detention hurt relations between Ottawa and Beijing, which accuses Canadian authorities of violating the executive’s human rights.
The Chinese government retaliated by arresting two Canadian citizens on charges of undermining the Asian nation’s security. The pair remain behind bars in China.
Moreover, China has put up obstacles to imports from Canada, costing Canadian firms billions of dollars in lost sales.
“I think Canada should ask Trump to reimburse its losses,” Ren told The Globe and Mail, blaming his daughter’s arrest on “political interference” from Washington.
He said that the relocation of the R&D facility from the US to Canada was dictated by practical considerations.
“According to the US ban, we couldn’t communicate with, call, email or contact our own employees in the United States,” Ren said. “The director in charge of business plans in the United States is actually working in Ottawa.”
Huawei has already added 300 new positions in Canada, bringing to nearly 1,200 the number of people it employs here, while the staff at the Futurewei research center in the US has shrunk from 850 to 250.
Coinciding with Ren’s promise of expanded investment in Canada, former Foreign Minister John Manley suggested in comments to The Globe and Mail that Ottawa should exchange Meng for the two Canadians being held in China.
Bucking pressure from the US, Ottawa has yet to follow Washington in banning Huawei from involvement in rolling out a 5G network a Canada.
The US government accuses Huawei of collaborating with Chinese intelligence agencies to spy on the West.