When a magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck in the Pacific Ocean off the northeastern coast of Japan’s Honshu island on March 11, 2011, the world’s leading nations responded by sending planes to rescue Japanese citizens. Some countries also issued travel advisories warning their citizens not to visit Japan in the wake of the tsunami.
An estimated 20,000 people were dead or missing, and close to 500,000 people were forced to evacuate. In addition, a nuclear power plant meltdown triggered a nuclear emergency, sending shocking waves across the world.
Thousands of miles away, the news of the nuclear emergency in Fukushima was received with great concern at Huawei’s headquarters. After Japan declared a nuclear emergency, Huawei sent teams to affected areas to restore 680 base stations within two weeks.
Japan was experiencing a critical time, and even its friends were reluctant to send rescue teams to teams to affected areas in the need of hour. In these circumstances, top management at Huawei decided to send teams to the affected areas to restore telecommunications equipment, a decision that was hailed by many across the globe. It was an important lifeline for Japan, especially in those difficult times.
Meng Wanzhou, deputy chairwoman of the board and chief financial officer of Huawei, also flew from Hong Kong to Japan to supervise the operations of Huawei’s teams. There were only two passengers on that flight. Her courage greatly impressed the Japanese and the rest of the world, and Japan still acknowledges Huawei’s response.
“Both, people and government of Japan are grateful to Huawei for its response to Japan’s nuclear emergency,” a senior diplomat told a correspondent recently.
The founder of Huawei believes his company is always willing to help.
“Huawei is a company that does not run away in the face of disasters. Instead, we march toward those disaster-stricken areas. The second example is a tsunami that happened in Indonesia. Forty-seven Huawei employees restored 668 base stations in affected areas within 13 hours, supporting the disaster relief efforts,” Huawei owner Ren Zhengfei told journalists recently.
“Another example is the 9.1-magnitude earthquake that happened in Chile. Three Huawei employees were out of touch at the epicentre of the earthquake. The local team sought my opinion when they were about to send a rescue team. I thought there could be subsequent earthquakes and I feared that there would be even greater losses if we were to send the rescue team. We decided to wait patiently. Finally, those three individuals managed to contact their supervisor. That supervisor told them where microwave equipment was broken. And then those three individuals returned to repair the microwave equipment. We then shot a short movie based on their experience. Afterwards, I went to Chile and talked with those employees,” Ren told journalists. “The richest man in Chile gave me a box of very good wine as a gift. I gave it to the three employees,” he added.
Over the past 30 years, Huawei’s products have been used in more than 170 countries and regions, serving more than 3 billion users in total. Sometimes referred to as one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, Ren proudly told journalists that at the time he wanted to found Huawei, he did not have enough money.
“When I got demobilized from the military, my wife and I received a total of CNY3,000 as compensation from the military. At the time, a minimum of CNY20,000 was required as registered capital to start a company in Shenzhen. By pooling funds from different people, I managed to get CNY21,000 to register Huawei,” Ren said.
Today the total number of Huawei shares he personally owns amounts to a 1.14% stake. For comparison, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once owned a 0.58% stake in the iPhone maker.
“That means there is still potential for my stake to be further diluted. I should learn from Steve Jobs,” Ren told journalists.
A news correspondent reported that Huawei’s annual R&D investment has reached US$15 billion to US$20 billion. The company plans to invest more than US$100 billion into R&D.