5G, US Sanctions and More: An Exclusive Interview with Huawei’s Guo Fulin

ProPakistani was recently invited to China as part of a delegation to discuss the Pakistan and China relationship and how to foster collaboration between the two countries across various industries.

As part of the visit, we got a chance to talk to Mr. Guo Fulin, the Head of International Media Affairs at Huawei, who flew in specially from Europe for the interview. The topics of the surprisingly frank conversation flowed from Pakistan and its ability to leverage new technologies like 5G to the US sanctions on Huawei and much more.

A special shout out to Teddy Lee from Huawei Pakistan for making the trip happen!

Q: How do you see Pakistan as a 5G market? Are the operators capable to run this new technology? How can the end consumer benefit from 5G in Pakistan?

With 200 million people, Pakistan has great potential for 5G. However, what the country needs to do right now is to figure out how it’s going to develop its technology and infrastructure to take full advantage of 5G. It’s critically important that Pakistan develops local talent which understands and can leverage the next generation of technologies like 5G, AI, Machine Learning and others.

Huawei has over 60 commercial 5G contracts and our experience of deploying 5G tech in China and other countries can benefit Pakistan.

The most important factors which will determine the future of 5G in Pakistan are the guidelines set by the government and the existence of local talent who can manage these technologies. For lawmakers and policy experts it’s important to address questions like what should be the spectrum policy? What should be the auction prices for carriers? Is the taxation system conducive enough to encourage investment in 5G? These high-level decisions need to be made very carefully by the government.

Managing the technology itself is not difficult – it matters more what you do with it and the development of the local tailor-made solution is something only the Pakistani people can do.

At the end of the day, I am sure that with the introduction of 5G, Pakistan will benefit immensely from projects like safe cities,  smart agriculture, smart mining, smart ports, smart energy, and others. These technologies will greatly impact Pakistan and will contribute towards making the quality of life better as well as rapid economic development.

Q: Tell us a bit about the Safe City Projects in Pakistan. 

Huawei has helped build two safe city projects in the country. These have helped decrease the crime rate by 40% and reduced traffic violations by 50%. Not only that, the police response time has been brought down to 5 minutes which we believe is a great achievement. This kind of security is only going to help make Pakistan more attractive to foreign tourists as well as make it safer for its 200 million-strong population.  

Huawei is eager to introduce these technologies to other cities in Pakistan.

Q: The US has sanctioned many companies including Huawei. How do you see this development? How much of an impact do you see?

We are completely against the sanctions since they were put in place without any valid evidence. In its own country, the US presume innocence without guilt but that those standards seemingly don’t apply to Huawei. We encourage the US to remove these sanctions which are against the rule of law, which is supposed to be a hallmark of developed countries.

As for the effects of these sanctions, I’d go as far as to say that the effects have been more positive than negative. Any publicity is good publicity and Huawei has been kept in the eye of the public by the US media and lawmakers. Our brand name is now stronger than ever and we’re enjoying the free advertisement.

Secondly, the transparent and sincere manner in which our founder and top management have operated has earned us the loyalty and confidence of our customers. They now trust us more because we’ve opened up and invited scrutiny even though we are not a listed company. Our strong product and services portfolio and regular quarterly reports on financial performance have instilled trust in our consumers.

Q. Talk to us about security. The US accuses China yet their own private companies have provided backdoor access to security services. What’s Huawei’s take on consumer data safety and security?

Network security is of utmost importance to Huawei. We’ve invested a lot of time, effort and money to make sure Huawei has the most secure and fastest networks. This concern and care for security flows from the top to the bottom and is a part of every business process and standard operating procedures whether it’s the supply chain or sales department.

For instance, GDPR is very new but we’ve already integrated compliance into our processes across the globe. Steps like these give confidence to consumers that Huawei takes security seriously. It’s a side effect of US propaganda that we have to go above and invite scrutiny where none exists for other companies but we take it as a sign that we are doing things right. In fact, focusing on excellence and security has become a selling point for us now because of these very things and that’s a great milestone for us.

Lastly, I’d like to mention that since the sanctions originate from the US, our top management are now carefully reviewing our short and long term strategies of how and where we’ll be investing our money and resources.

Q:  Do you think 5G is the reason for sanctions on Huawei?

I don’t know if 5G is the main reason but if it wasn’t 5G, it’d be something else because the ban is political.

5G technology is just that – a technology. Its impact depends on the people using it and that is completely separate from the tech itself. It is our view that 5G should not be politicalized.

The US is exerting so much pressure but despite that, just look at global trends. Only two countries have followed suit and said they won’t be using 5G technology from Huawei and that is it. Most recently, Germany announced that there aren’t any restrictions on any vendors for 5G technology. That is the correct approach. You cannot criticize security or any other aspect for new technologies when there are no standards in place yet. They’ll get all the relevant players in ICT like hardware, software and chipset providers and they’ll work together make the end to end network secure.

5G isn’t just a China thing – the entire world is going to benefit from it and it’ll involve companies from China, Europe, the Middle East and also the US. It’s a collective effort and removing Huawei out of the equation isn’t going to magically change anything and make the network secure. 

Q: How do you see the ban of Android on Huawei devices? Do you think Huawei can compete without the most used operating system in the world?

The ban is ironic because Huawei is actually the largest contributor to the Android ecosystem – even more than Google!

The company has an excellent relationship with Google and we’re constantly in dialogue with them. The understanding is that the current ban isn’t beneficial for any industry player or the industry itself. Our first priority is to cooperate with Google and use Android in our handsets.

We’ve done what we can by investing resources to achieve excellence, invited scrutiny and become as transparent as possible but what else can we do? Unfortunately, political motivations cannot be overcome by private companies. As such, if the US government continues its current stance, we have the full capacity to build those systems for ourselves and will do so.

For the last 30 years, Huawei has never committed to doing something and failed.