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Huawei moving US research centre to Canada

04 December 2019

The Huawei founder wants to build new factory capacity in Europe to make fifth-generation (5G) networking equipment there, hoping to assuage fears stemming from USA allegations that its product could be used by China for spying, the Globe and Mail reported.

Company founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei told Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail that Huawei has already increased its Canadian staff while cutting back the headcount at its U.S. R&D subsidiary, and that key personnel, including its director in charge of business plans in the United States, are already operating out of Ottawa, where the company has an engineering unit.

"The research and development centre will move from the United States, and Canada will be the centre", Ren said in a video excerpt of the interview on the Globe and Mail website.

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Internet users and even the state media have called the company hypocritical for having an employee arrested on what turned out to be spurious allegations, while enjoying the backing of the Chinese people and their government and taking up the mantle of national champion.

The company's USA research arm, Futurewei, has already trimmed its staff by 600 to about 250, as US restrictions impeded its ability to work with the parent company.

It has one of the world's biggest corporate research budgets and has said this year's spending will rise 20 per cent to $17 billion US. It said in a recent release that it invested $164 million in research and development initiatives in Canada previous year. A Huawei spokesman said the company had no further comment.

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Relations between Canada and China soured after Ren's daughter and Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested a year ago during a flight stopover in Vancouver on a USA warrant alleging violations of sanctions against Iran. The case riled China-Canada relations, and China has since detained two Canadians.

Unlike Beijing, Ren blames the United States.

Ren said the speed of the research centre move will depend in part on if USA staff will be allowed to move to Canada. "I think Canada should ask Trump to reimburse its losses".

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Huawei moving US research centre to Canada