Despite setbacks in the United States, Canada, and Australia over national security issues, Ren Zhengfei, the CEO of Huawei, is adjusting his policy to recruit more Western talent around the world to expand his overseas markets.
Ren made a speech at the recent work report meeting on Sept. 28, focusing on “acquiring the world’s best talents.”
“Attracting talented people from all over the world for our use … Now we need to focus on acquiring ‘high-nose’ [Western] talents and allocate more budget to overseas research institutes,” he said.
“The number of talented [Chinese students] coming back from the United States will gradually decrease due to restrictions on visa applications for postgraduate and doctoral studies in the U.S. We need to find a path to get the best talent. There’re many people from other countries studying and working in Europe and the United States. They can all be attracted and used for our purposes.”
Huawei is looking for 5-star, 4-star, and 3-star talents, as Ren said clearly, “There is no need to recruit those below 3 stars.” In order to attract Western talents, Ren is willing to pay high salaries and has ordered his human resource department to pay great attention to this special group of employees.
“On occasions of academic exchanges, research cooperation, and international competitions, if we find outstanding [Westerners], we should befriend and attract them. We also need to look for them specifically…,” he said.
Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (IHES), a French institute engaged in cutting-edge research in mathematics and theoretical physics, recently announced on its official website that Laurent Lafforgue, a French mathematician, has joined Huawei Technologies France.
IHES has been working with Huawei France for seven years, and Lafforgue started working with Huawei as early as 2017. Now working at Huawei Technologies France, he will continue to work on topological theory and algebraic geometry with his previous research team. Lafforgue won the Fields Medal in 2002, an international prize for top mathematicians under 40.
Using Western Foreign Talents to Achieve Huawei’s Goals
Although Huawei has been banned from 5G networks in the United States and Australia due to national security issues, Guo Ping, the company’s rotating chairman, said at an orientation for new employees in August that the firm would never give up on overseas markets and that “the throne of mobile phones will eventually return.
Huawei is waiting for its chance to make a comeback. This is not an impulsive idea. The company has long set the goal of “leading the world.” Attracting Western talents is just an adjustment in practice for the time being to achieve the goal.
“In five years, Huawei will lead the world, but there is not yet a [world-class] leader group,” Ren said at Huawei’s mid-year marketing conference in 2016.
Five years later, in 2021, Huawei had to shrink its operations in the United States and Australia due to national security concerns, and its goal of “leading the world” in five years could not be realized.
Ren hasn’t given up on that goal, however. In an internal Huawei memo in May, Ren called on employees to “dare to lead the world in the field of software.” The memo said Huawei would struggle to produce advanced hardware in the short term due to external constraints, and should focus on building software ecosystems such as HarmonyOS, Mindspore, a full-scene AI computing framework, and other IT products.
Shen Yang, a professor at Tsinghua University, said in July that the key to industrial competition between China and the United States is who can truly bring global wisdom into play. If China can integrate much of the world’s power, the game will shift to its advantage
By recruiting Western talents, Huawei is boosting its competitiveness.
Huawei Has Long Been Preparing for Its Goal
In as early as 1999, Huawei had established a mathematics research institute in Russia. In the 2000s, Huawei set up camera technology research institutes in Munich, Germany, and Dubai, UAE. In 2016, Huawei set up a mathematics institute in France, its second in the world, paving the way for Lafforgue to join the company this year.
In 2019, IHES established the Huawei Chair in Algebraic Geometry, with Lafforgue serving as the first professor. In 2020, Huawei promised to provide 6 million euros in the next 10 years, of which 1 million euros would be to subsidize the Huawei Chair in Algebraic Geometry and 5 million euros to subsidize the company’s “Young Talents” program. The program funds an average of seven IHES postdoctoral fellowships per year. These young researchers work with professors at the institute on topics of interest to them
Huawei’s heavy investment in France begets support from French operators who participate in 5G, ignoring warnings about national security by Australian think tanks.
Fergus Hanson, head of cyber policy at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), told News Corp Australia that there are many examples of cooperation between the Chinese communist government and Chinese-funded companies. Also, Chinese technology has been found to be risky in various forms of application. Hanson believes that Huawei is not the only Chinese company that needs attention in national security risk assessments.
The Lithuanian Defence Ministry’s National Cyber Security Centre released a report (pdf) on Sept. 21, revealing that tests of 5G phones made by Chinese manufacturers found security flaws in one Huawei phone and built-in censorship tools in one Xiaomi phone.
Xiaomi’s Mi 10T 5G phone was found to contain software that can detect and censor words and phrases such as “Voice of America,” “Tibet Freedom,” and “89 Democratic Movement,” according to the report. For encrypted phones, Xiaomi sends their usage data to a server in Singapore. Currently, a total of 449 Chinese entries can be censored by Xiaomi’s default internet browser and other system applications, and the Chinese entries are constantly being updated.
“Our recommendation is to not buy new Chinese phones, and to get rid of those already purchased as fast as reasonably possible,” Margiris Abukevicius, Lithuania’s deputy defense minister, told reporters when releasing the report.