Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei urges US-sanctioned tech giant to grow talent base, not coffers, amid tech war

huawei founder ren zhengfei urges us sanctioned tech giant to grow talent base not coffers amid tech war 1
Ren Zhengfei, founder and CEO of Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies, urged the US-sanctioned tech giant to maintain its technological lead in specific areas and focus on developing internal talent, according to his latest speech published on the company’s employee website on Monday.

“Huawei will save talent, not US dollars,” Ren said in the speech, which he delivered on July 28. “We will try hard to lead in some business aspects globally, not all aspects. For our products, the boundary can be relatively narrow, but our research boundary can be wider.”

Ren, 78, is still the Shenzhen-based company’s chief executive and remains a spiritual leader, although he has handed over day-to-day management to the board of directors. His daughter Sabrina Meng Wanzhou is rotating chairman from April to September.

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Huawei, which was first sanctioned by the US in 2019, is treated as a symbol of Chinese technological prowess and a key player in the country’s pursuit of self-sufficiency. During Premier Li Qiang’s visit to the company last week, video from state-run China Central Television (CCTV) shows Ren standing beside Li during the trip.

In his July speech, Ren said the best motivation for talented workers is passion.

“I think the material reward is not that important,” he said. “The first thing is that [the worker] finds a position he has passion for … If he can work on something he is interested in, he will have no regrets.”


Ren added that no one is good at all aspects of a business from day one and that it takes time for people to grow their talents beyond a single specialised field. “[In time], you will see who becomes a leader. It’s a natural process,” he said.

Huawei published the transcript after last week’s release of its premium Mate 60 series smartphones, which comes three years after it last released a handset equipped with 5G, a more difficult endeavour after the US escalated trade restrictions.
The company has remained silent on the details of its new Kirin chip that powers the smartphone and whether it has 5G, although independent tests from Chinese media and Bloomberg News have verified that wireless speeds are equivalent to other 5G devices. The phone’s processor – which a TechInsights teardown commissioned by Bloomberg concluded uses a 7-nanometre process from Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp – has fuelled speculation and national pride, as some considered it a win over US sanctions.

Ren did not mention US sanctions or specific business plans in his speech.

Talent recruitment has long been important for Huawei. Ren initiated a programme known as “Top Minds” in 2019, just months after the company was blacklisted by the US government. That recruitment drive, later dubbed the “Genius Youth” programme, gave priority to candidates whose research had produced “tangible and impactful” results and winners of top research honours, according to an advertisement posted by Huawei on Weibo at the time.


Huawei has 207,000 employees globally, according to its website, and 55.6 per cent are research and development personnel. This is up from the end of 2021, when the company said it employed 195,000 people, with 54.8 per cent of them in R&D.


South China Morning Post

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