While thousands of Chinese citizens are boycotting Apple and declaring their undying loyalty to Huawei, the company’s founder and CEO has candidly admitted that his own family actually prefer to use Apple’s iPhone to any of Huawei’s smartphones, and in fact actually buy Apple products as gifts for him when they travel abroad.
According to a Beijing News report (via The Epoch Times), Ren Zhengfei, founder and CEO of the beleaguered Chinese smartphone maker told a group of Chinese reporters at a press conference this week that his own family considers Apple’s products to be better than Huawei’s, and that almost all of them use iPhones and MacBooks as their primary devices.
Many of my family members tell me that Apple’s ecosystem is better than ours.Ren Zhengfei, Found & CEO, Huawei
The timing of Ren’s revelations is particularly amusing, coming in the midst of a massive anti-Apple campaign that’s been gaining ground in China as a result of the country’s trade war with the U.S. and the recent international sanctions against Huawei. While everyday Chinese citizens are lining up on the side of the Chinese smartphone maker, to the point where it’s becoming embarrassing for the average Chinese person to be seen with an iPhone, it’s a hilarious and ironic twist to discover that Huawei’s own executives don’t seem to share that sentiment.
Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou, who also happens to be Ren’s daughter, was also found to be carrying several Apple products, including an iPhone 7 Plus and a MacBook Air when she was arrested in Vancouver last year at the behest of U.S. authorities. Meng has been released on bail in Canada, and is currently fighting extradition to the U.S., where she has been indicted on charges of fraud related to the violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order prohibiting U.S. firms from doing business with Huawei, resulting in Huawei losing access to much of the technology needed for its smartphones, including Google’s Android operating system and Qualcomm’s chips. Combined with the increasingly heated trade war between the two countries, the move raised anti-U.S. and anti-Apple sentiment in China to a fever pitch. However, Huawei’s CEO has all but shrugged it off, saying that President Trump’s move was not entirely unexpected, and that Huawei has contingency measures in place.
However, many also feel that President Trump’s rationale for the executive order doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. While the official explanation for the executive order was that Huawei’s hardware puts the U.S. at risk for espionage, which certainly justifies a ban on using Huawei’s equipment in network infrastructure, it doesn’t offer a reasonable explanation for why U.S. companies should be prohibited from selling components to Huawei. It’s more likely that the move by the Trump Administration is simply another play in the larger ongoing trade war.
It will be interesting to see if Ren’s comments, which were made primarily to Chinese media, will have a calming effect on the backlash that Apple is currently experiencing from Chinese citizens, since it seems ludicrous that even Huawei’s most loyal customers can make a case against a company that even the Chinese smartphone maker’s own CEO both admires and supports.