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Huawei founder downplays threat of Chinese retaliation against Apple

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei has rejected calls for China to issue sanctions against Apple in light of American trade restrictions on his company.

The US placed Huawei on a trade blacklist earlier this month leading to a number of American suppliers, including Google and Qualcomm, threatening to stop selling their products to the Chinese tech giant.

Some analysts have predicted that Beijing could respond to the latest escalations in the ongoing trade war by banning the sale of Apple’s products, and reports have suggested Chinese citizens are already boycotting the company.

But Ren, who founded Huawei in 1987 after working as an engineer in the military, downplayed concerns about a retaliation against Apple. “That will not happen, first of all,” he told Bloomberg. “And second of all, if that happens, I’ll be the first to protest.”

“Apple is the world’s leading company. If there was no Apple, there would be no mobile internet,” he added. “If there was no Apple to help show us the world, we would not see the beauty of this world. Apple is my teacher. It’s advancing in front of us. As a student, why should I oppose my teacher? I would never do that.”

It is not the first time Ren has said he looks up to Apple, which Huawei overtook in terms of smartphone sales last year. Facing questions in January about the prospect of the Chinese government enlisting Huawei in intelligence investigations, Ren said he would learn from Apple’s decision to reject the FBI’s efforts to force it to unlock a terrorist’s iPhone.

Donald Trump has said American restrictions on Huawei could be lifted if the US and China strike a trade deal. But if Ren receives a call from the US president, he said he would ignore him. “If he calls me, I may not answer.”